Tuesday, 4 December 2012

How Society Protects Rapists

So here we are to share some truth. It may be a long one so grab some gin and vermouth. I'll try to throw in some controversy because I know you have a sweet tooth. Now that I have your attention I want to talk with you about a serious subject. Our society protects rapists with a blanket of its own ignorance. You see the dynamics of sexual assault have changed over the last 30 years or so. The majority of the public and even some police officers and district attorneys and especially potential jurors have no idea what a "real rape" even looks like in the 21st century. Because of this it affects behaviour, arrests, and convictions. It affects every facet of the legal system. We can't fix a problem we don't understand. Before I continue I want you to read this:

“Where a vigorous woman alleges ravishment it is to be expected that signs of violence such as wounds, bruises and scratches will be present and their absence should induce a moderate degree of scepticism unless the girl avers that she fainted from fear, became panic stricken or was otherwise rendered incapable of physical resistance. The acts and demeanour of the female immediately after the alleged commission should be subjected to very critical investigation in these cases.”
                                                         -Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation 1970

“Generally, the actions and the appearance of a legitimate rape victim leave little doubt that a crime has been committed. Under such circumstances, the victim is highly agitated, emotionally distraught, often in a state of hysteria and may have sustained injuries, cuts, bruises or wounds. The victim’s clothing is often ripped or torn off as evidence that it was forcibly removed and if the rape occurred outdoors, the victim is generally thrown to the ground and her outer garments stained or soiled. Questions may reasonably be raised concerning the validity of rape charges in which none or only a few of the above manifestations exist.”

                                                      -International Association for Chiefs of Police 1995

Notice in 25 years almost nothing changed if anything at all. Most today will still read those statements and think that it looks about right. Today this is the common stereotypical view of rape and sexual assault. Unfortunately in the above statements there is almost no ounce of truth to any of it. Those two statements above are completely false and I can prove it. I will take this article and use statistical fact to absolutely DESTROY the above statements. As I said before almost nothing in those statements are true in any way, shape, or form. Now for the proof:

To summarize here is what we are going to show you:

Most rapes are done by strangers - False
A weapon is normally used - False
There's a lot of physical force and violence - False
Victim reports rape immediately - False
Victim is hysterical - False
Victims remember everything correctly and never fabricate - False
Takes place on bad side of town or dim area - False
Committed by minorities - False

That's right almost none of those things happen the majority of the time. Now that isn't saying those things don't happen sometimes because they do. What we are saying is those cases are the minority as compared to all cases. This misconception is so bad that often even rape crisis centers give out misguided advice like always walk in well lit areas or take a self defense course. Now those things will help some but will be useless to most. It won't hurt anything to walk in a well lit area or take a self defense course. I even teach women's self defense courses from time to time. It goes back to the old axiom it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. I think it's great to take a great self defense course my point is don't let it give you a false sense of security or that it is going to fix everything because it definitely won't.

In reality, most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim, without a weapon, physical violence, or signs of physical injury. Very few victims report the sexual assault to the police, but if they do, it is often after a delay of days, weeks, months, or even years. Many victims have a number of factors that limit their perceived credibility: they are often young, homeless, runaways, or transients, have a mental or physical impairment, are belligerent, and/or abusing alcohol or controlled substances. Victims often omit, exaggerate or fabricate parts of their account, and they may even recant altogether. They are not typically hysterical when interviewed by medical professionals, law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, or others.

So why do people believe this crap?

Because the sexual assaults that were reported to law enforcement in the past (e.g., 1970’s) tended to look a lot more like this stereotype than they do now; because the media tends to portray sexual assaults that fit the stereotype; because we prefer to keep the issues simple and not re-examine our assumptions and because we want to feel safe from threat of sexual assault.

From 1972 to 1976 71% of all sexual assaults reported to the San Diego Police Department were by strangers. But from 1992 to 1996 76% of all sexual assaults reported were committed by someone the victim knew. That number has stayed around 75% give or take a few points every year since then. Did you know that 32 % of all women who are sexually assaulted maintain a relationship with the rapist afterwards? It's true. Did you know that 25% of all women who are raped will have consensual sex with the rapist at a later time? That's jacked up isn't it? You see the reason making sure your walking in a well lit area doesn't help most of the time is because you will know the attacker and let them get close they don't have to sneak up on you. The numbers in Tucson are a little lower but still comparable in 1999 the number was 66% and has stayed pretty much the same since then. You see most of the advice given today about rape prevention is still geared more towards stranger danger which is very outdated and as the statistics show isn't very accurate. This is why we need to get the word out. We have to change this misconception. When studies these things I read about a woman who was raped and murdered by a co-worker. This happened at the University of Illinois. The primary response from the college was to install better lighting. This does absolutely no good at all since this woman was attacked by someone known to her. Once again it can save some because yes women do still get raped by strangers but it doesn't address the overall problem.

Even the news media can be a problem with the misconception not on purpose of course but it happens. Here is the problem with that. There are so many rapes that take place in large cities in a given day that they can't report them all in a 30 minute newscast; so the only ones that tend to make the cut are the particularly violent ones that fit the stereotype thereby passing the misconception onto the public without realizing it.

People believe what they want to believe. They want to believe people they trust aren't capable of this stuff. They want to believe this only happens to other people or people that engage in certain behaviors. None of this is true it can happen to anyone anywhere even in your home by people you trust. The truth is 1 out of every 6 women will be raped in their lifetime. For that matter 1 out of every 33 men will be raped. Statistics can be higher in certain populations. Now this is very shocking but here are the actual statistics:

36% of all women in the US Navy are raped
34% of all Native American women are raped
27% of all girls in college are raped

That's pretty jacked up and some of you are probably saying where is he getting all this info and how do I know its real numbers. The numbers are real I'll cover the source at the end of the article. For now let's get back on track.

Let's look at the next issue. How often is a weapon used in rape cases? How often is physical violence used?
That can differ a little based on if it's a stranger or not. Get ready for the bullet points.

Percent of Weapon Use:    Non Stranger 3% Stranger 16%
Choking and Beating:         Non Stranger 7% Stranger 16%
Hitting or Slapping:           Non Stranger 13% Stranger 28%
Twisting and Holding:         Non Stranger 68% Stranger 72%
Threatening:                       Non Stranger 33% Stranger 54%

As you can see actual violence during a rape is very low percentage. The reason I point this out is because of the 2 statements at the beginning of the article. Just to refresh your memory I'll post the first one

Where a vigorous woman alleges ravishment it is to be expected that signs of violence such as wounds, bruises and scratches will be present and their absence should induce a moderate degree of scepticism unless the girl avers that she fainted from fear, became panic stricken or was otherwise rendered incapable of physical resistance. The acts and demeanor of the female immediately after the alleged commission should be subjected to very critical investigation in these cases.

The second one is even worse scroll up and read that one. So you see most of the time weapons aren't used. Choking, beating, hitting, and slapping is in the minority as well. Threatening doesn't leave marks. Twisting and holding may or may not leave a bruise. The 2 statements law enforcement uses to judge rape are false. Society also shares this same view and we've shown you several reasons why. Do beatings happen? Of course they do. Are weapons used? Yeah sometimes they are used. Our point is the absence of these things shouldn't cause scepticism when a woman says she's raped because that absence is actually the norm. Our view of rape needs to change in this society. For God sakes at Fort Collins Police Department in Colorado in 1998 100% of all rapes reported when the attacker was known to the victim a weapon was NEVER used. That's right for an entire calendar in reported cases it didn't happen. That is very important info. So why don't these women fight back? Well here are some reasons
The rape is committed by someone the victim knows (rather than a stranger)
The perpetrator does not use physical force or violence to commit the rape
The victim is concerned about preserving the relationship with the offender
The victim is concerned about the offender’s judgment/opinions
The victim has been sexually assaulted in the past

How do they resist when they do resist?

11.2% Run
11.2% Scream
45.7% Cry
69.6% Struggle
76.6% Turn Cold
83.3% Reason and Plead

You see the picture start to take shape and only 1 of those could possibly leave signs of injury thereby ripping the original statements apart which is the point of the article. I also want to add that 1/3 to 2/3 of all rape involve alcohol or some other drug. There is a huge double standard with that in our society. When guys drink society expects them to be out of control but if women do it they are considered slutty. That just ain't right. Our entire culture is geared the wrong way. When it comes to sex men are seen as the aggressors and the women the gatekeepers. These men believe women are supposed to say no at first but not because they mean it. They just say it because it's expected and they are supposed to push to "see how far they can get."

They get to see it as a game of cat and mouse. This is also seriously messed up. This doesn't mean all men are rapists of course but it gives way to a culture that perceives aggressive men as normal which compounds the problem.

Do victims usually report the rape immediately?

Since we talked about sources earlier the 2 main sources for this article were the National Violence Against Women Survey and the National Women's Survey. Within a few points they all converge on these statistics and this next one is no different. Only 16 to 19% of women who are raped reported it at all. Out of that percentage less that 25% of that number reported it immediately. That means less than 5% of all women who are raped report it immediately. Remember that number because I'm building to something. There is also a misconception that the rapist will be a minority and I want you to know that most rapes are intra-racial. That means they rape within their own ethnic groups. If you’re a white girl you’re more likely to be raped by a white guy just so you know. Getting back to why women don't report rape let's look at it:

22% cited fear of the perpetrator as the reason for not reporting
18% stated that they were too ashamed or embarrassed
18% felt that the incident was minor, and not a crime or a police matter
13% believed that the law enforcement agency could not do anything
12% were concerned that officers would not believe or blame them

That really sucks because the fact is that men who rape and get away with it are more likely to do it again. Dr. Davis Lisak and Dr. Paul Miller surveyed 1,882 men with an average age of 28 who attended college part time (the college wasn't named). Of these 1,882 men 120 of them had committed 483 sexual assaults of women they knew. None of those assaults were ever reported.

There is a real disconnect between what society believes is "legitimate" rape and the truth. If the policy we showed you at the very beginning of the article continues to be believed then many more women will be raped and many more rapists will continue raping with impunity. When crap like that is believed then rape victims do not get believed when they come forward and arrests are not made and rapes continue when they could have been stopped. That untrue statement is very damaging in many ways. I want to give you a scenario.

A woman has been raped by a neighbor she's friends with and has known awhile. Police come to the scene and interview her and they follow through and arrest the neighbor. Then they start to collect evidence.

They collect fingerprints, hair samples, fiber samples, semen, saliva, footprints, maybe tire marks and other things of the like. They can absolutely prove he was there and that a sexual act took place and they go to trial with it. So what happens? Well it's an easy not guilty verdict and the victim gets victimized again. The rapist walks free. Why?

Well you see since it's a given they knew each other already the identification of the suspect should not have been the primary issue. You see a good defense attorney will use the consent defense. It will be her word against his and she doesn't have any bruises, cuts or marks on her body, no clothes torn. She probably didn't call the police right after either. Remember those misconceptions that are prevalent? They will be prevalent in a jury too. So let's back up and try that again.

A woman has been raped by a neighbor she's friends with and has known awhile. Police come to the scene and interview her and they follow through and arrest the neighbor. Then they start to collect evidence.

They collect all the identification evidence mentioned in the previous scenario but this time they also:

Photographs of any genital and non genital injuries
Documented complaints of pain
Evidence of prior similar acts
Suspect statements made in a monitored phone call to victim
Any crime scene evidence that could support a struggle
Records of communication with dispatch
Interview with first person victim told of assault
 Detailed information from the victim, describing thoughts and feelings during the sexual assault, as well as any sensory and peripheral details that can be recalled
Detailed information from others, to describe the victim’s behavior after the sexual assault, and contrast it with the victim’s typical behavior before the sexual assault

Any number of these can help beat a consent defense. On top of that a prosecutor having statistics like these to change jury perception of what is normal and what is abnormal their case will be stronger.

In closing this ignorance helps rapists and hopefully we've helped in some small way to help you understand just how much damage has been done to our society and even our justice system due to lack of understanding of the real issues. If you found this article informative I can tell you that it's just the tip of the iceberg. This info came from a course I took called What Does Rape Really Look Like that is offered by End The Violence Against Women International. There is much more info there than I can put in this article. You can look into those online courses at www.evawintl.org. We've got to work together to change this perception and make real help available. Thank you

To find out more about Stonewall Tactical Defense Systems visit http://www.stonewalltactical.com/index.html


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