Personal and Professional Stories of A Working Human
The horror stories I have heard from women who have had to speak with the police about being raped are enough to make anyone see why it’s hard to report rapes. But even with that you think, well it’s worth it if one more rapist is taken off the streets. Ah. That’s where the second and most damning part of the whole process lies. In most parts of this country (the U.S.) and I’m guessing from what I’ve read that this is true in the U.K. as well, there is such a high number of people who either are never convicted, or spend such a short time in prison that it makes it hardly worth the pain and suffering of even going to the police. Of course we want justice and of course we want these rapists to never be allowed or able to rape again, but the law treats rape victims like they are guilty and rapists as if they were victims. Our society treats women like commodities and men like morons, and therefore when a rape happens, it’s because the man was unable to stop himself from being trapped into raping someone.
Of course this is a generalization, but I want to say that there are very few women who I’ve spoken with who would ever report a rape again after dealing with the justice system in this country, even if they did get a conviction. I worked with women who were victims of rape, and partner abuse, and the thing I remember the most about their ordeals was that the way they were treated by the police and/or the public (if their case was public) was almost as bad as the rape itself, or some people even said it was worse because it made them relive the rape over and over and it also meant they lost friends and were ostracized by their community.
I read a piece a while ago, I could find it otherwise I’d be able to link to it, that was about a woman in the U.K. who was raped, and then put in prison. The basic reason she was put in prison was that they couldn’t find any evidence and she was put in prison for wasting police time. The article said that there was massive mishandling of the case by the police and there was in fact evidence but the police somehow messed it up. I’m vague on that because I don’t remember the exact details. (I know I’m not doing justice to this story but I looked quite hard to find it and couldn’t get any results. Please let me know if you have a link to this article)
So how hard is it to prosecute rape? Well of course it depends on the laws where you are, but even more than that it depends on the people in your society. One of the reasons for this is that rape can be very hard to prove. Unless you have evidence like in the Steubenville case where they videotaped themselves raping Jane Doe, it usually comes down who is most trusted by the jury or judge. Even in the case of Jane Doe, she was ostracized from her community and so many people have shown their sympathy for the perpetrators rather than for the victim. When you have no video evidence, you may have a “rape kit” which basically is a dna sample from the victims genitals and the area around the genitals, and there may be a physical exam which will show if there is bruising or tearing or any other “damage” to the area. I think if you watch TV you hear a lot of defendants (rapists) say “she liked it rough” or “she asked me to do it rough” and I haven’t actually heard anyone make this case in real life but I’m sure it’s been made. So it still comes down to whose word is more trustworthy, or who do you sympathize with the most.
I would like to go back to the rape kit issue. I would love to do a whole post on this but it’s all sort of traumatic to talk about so I’ll just briefly talk about it here. Having a rape kit done is VERY invasive. If you have just been raped and you go to a doctor and they stick their fingers into and/or around your genitals, it is not nice. I don’t know how exactly to explain how awful it is other than I had a panic attack, and I do not get panic attacks. Then if you go to court and they decide this isn’t real evidence and you must have just had sex with the person, is that really worth it?
I thought for a long time that it was important to push women to do this because if there was a slight chance of conviction than it was worth it. I do still believe that if there are convictions and people see that there are consequences for rape, that they will think twice, but they will probably still do it. Especially when the jail time can be as short as no time at all or 24 hours. Or even if they get a year in jail, it still seems short when you are the victim of a brutal assault and you wake up six months later or earlier to find out they have gotten out on parole. Or in my case they get no jail time and no parole, they are simply free to rape again. So is it worth it? I think it is worth it if you can do it without further damage to yourself. Sometimes, it is the only thing someone can do to get over their rape. I think that Jane Doe in Steubenville is extremely brave and I am so glad that she stood up for herself and stood up to the pressure to drop this whole case. She is a hero. She really is. The unfortunate truth is that people hate her for it, and that the town is more ready to let football player rape with impunity than they are to allow football players be prosecuted in any way for any crime.
I would go to the police if I were raped again, most likely, but I do not expect much to happen. I would do it in hopes that something would, but with the reality that it will probably do more damage to my life than to the rapists if that person is a certain type of person (celebrity, business person, etc) or if that person decided to come after me or attack me for what I do.
My point is that in order to stop rapists from raping, we must stop rape from being ok. Jail time, or no jail time, is not going to stop rapists after the fact. When men have little to no respect for women, and women have little or no respect for women, we will always have rape. We need harsher sentencing, but that doesn’t even touch the actual issue here which is that men like these boys in Steubenville, don’t even realize how fucking horrible they are. They cried, as if somehow they were the victims in this case. People have been fighting saying that their lives are ruined from this. That is people who aren’t involved in this case who don’t even know these people, who think that it’s more important to protect the football players reputation, than protect females from being raped. Because they don’t see rape as a big deal. Because they don’t know what rape is. I’m not even kidding when I say that there are rapists out there every single day who don’t realize they are rapists because what they do is so accepted. It’s not to excuse behavior, because even if you don’t think it’s rape, you know fucking an unconscious person isn’t actually a good thing. Even if you don’t think that’s rape, you know it’s wrong. But women are not respected enough to care about in those circumstances. Any sane, rational person can look at that and say that’s rape. And yet so many people don’t see it. That is why rape happens, that is why rape is hard to prosecute. If we don’t teach people respect, how are they going to change? Not everyone finds respect themselves. Not everyone can make that step towards ending rape culture on their own.
And there were other girls who were raped in Steubenville but the rapists were not prosecuted. So what about those girls?
Sorry that ended up being about Seubenville. I wasn’t intending it to be that way. There is media over-saturation on this whole case, but I’m glad that it’s out there. The conversation may suck because the major media pundits do not know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to respect for women, but at least it’s a conversation that’s been started. Now us loud mouthed people with the good ideas and such have to butt in and steer this the right direction.
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