Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Debunking the Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding rape and sexual assault perpetuated by the enablers, apologists and the attackers themselves to justify the culture that dictates blame where it doesn't belong. Myths are very damaging to survivors and they need to be not only addressed but debunked continuously until they stop. Without further a-do, I will list some of them now and debunk them with the facts.

Myth: Rape only happens to young, 'attractive' women
Fact: People are raped regardless of age, gender identity, class, sexuality, race etc. Sexual violence has very little to do with attractiveness because it's an act of violence.

Myth: They didn't get hurt or fight back. It couldn't have been rape.
Fact: Rapists often use threat of further violence or weaponry to intimidate their targets. Fear is incredibly powerful, powerful enough to limit the ability to fight back. Personally, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear when I came to that morning. I couldn't move out of fear and horror. It was rape through and through. I was pretty convinced I was going to die and in the face of that, I was scared beyond words. The fact I didn't feel able to fight back doesn't make it right. Rape is never justified.

Myth: Men of certain races/backgrounds are more likely to be sexually violent.
Fact: There is no typical shadowy figure who is likely to rape. The perpetuation that certain races rape more than others is nothing more than racist propaganda. There is no correlation between the incidence of rape and race, social economic class etc.

Myth: "I was under stress/drunk/depressed/on drugs/not myself."
Fact: There is no justification for rape ever no matter how much the rapist wishes to justify themselves. Rape is never justified.

Myth: "She was so intoxicated/unconscious."
Fact: If someone is unconscious or if their judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs, they are legally unable to consent to sex. Having non-consensual sex with someone who is intoxicated or unconscious is rape. Rape is never justified.

Myth: "She was wearing 'slutty' clothes. She was asking for it."
Fact: Wrong. Men are able to wear whatever they wish, why is there a double-standard that means women can't do the same? Generally when the media reports on women being raped, the survivors are always described in the 'roles' they have e.g. mother, politician's daughter, teacher's wife etc. There's always a discussion about what she was wearing, whether she had been out alone, whether she was drinking, her general behaviour as if to shift responsibility away from the rapist to the survivor herself. Some publications have gone as far as to portray rapists as victims of malicious allegations, stupidity, carelessness - anything! Ever heard of the victim of a robbery be blamed for being provocative? Didn't think so. Rape is never justified.

Myth: Men who rape or sexually assault are mentally ill.
Fact: Studies show that as few as 5% of rapists are under psychotic episodes at the time of their crimes. Few convicted rapists are referred for psychiatric treatment. Again, this is used as another way to shift the blame away from the rapist. Rape is never justified.

Myth: Rapists are sexually frustrated/don't have the opportunity to have sex with a willing partner.
Fact: Rapists are just as likely as anyone else to be in a significant romantic relationship. One in five women are raped by their partners. As a crude side note - has nobody heard of masturbating/sex toys? They're readily available at not even majorly unreasonable prices (your hand is free of charge). I have a few friends that aren't in relationships, are sexually frustrated but would never rape a woman because they are decent human beings. This myth is not only a sick jusification attempt but it's also a means to make women mere sex objects. We're not. We're human beings.

Myth: "They shouldn't be wondering around at night alone. That's when the strangers in the alleyways leap and attack."
Fact: 90% of rapes are committed by known men whether they are family relatives, friends, partners, ex partners etc. By process of elimination, only 10% of rapes are committed by strangers.

Myth: Women often make up stories or lie about being raped.
Fact: There is a majorly disproportionate focus by the Media on the very small number of cases each year that involve supposed false allegations of rape/sexual assault. In March 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service published a survey confirming that false rape reports are very rare and they suggest they make up less than 1% of all reports. Do the media report on this? Nope! This is incredibly damaging and the statistics back it up. It is estimated that only 15% of the 85,000 women who are raped and the 400,000 women who are sexually assaulted actually report the incident. One major reason for this is because there is a major fear among survivors that they will not be believed.

There are more myths out there, I could spend forever debunking them. This is only the start but the one message resonates; rape is never justified no matter what. This is the truth and it has to get out there far and wide.

Lots of love and solidarity <3 XXX

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