Archive for the ‘Rape Apologists’ Tag
There are many good reasons to oppose U.S. drug policy and the abysmal failure that is our so-called war on drugs. As is often pointed out, the war on drugs isn’t really a war on drugs at all. It’s a war on people. People who use certain drugs, most of which were made illegal for political, not medical, reasons. But this post isn’t about the relative risks and dangers of illegal versus legal drugs or the history of the drug war. What I want to discuss is how our drug laws not only turn countless rape victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse into criminals, but dramatically increase the likelihood that they will be raped again.
Sexual assault is one of the most violating experiences a person can endure. The trauma is exacerbated by a culture that routinely blames, shames, and disbelieves rape victims, and a justice system that denies all but a very small minority of rape survivors the opportunity to hold their attacker accountable. Studies show that at least 80% of rape victims suffer from chronic psychological and/or physical conditions as a result of being attacked. It’s not unusual for rape trauma, especially when compounded by a hostile or dismissive community reaction, to trigger suicidal ideation, resulting in a drastically increased suicide risk for rape survivors: 1300% higher than individuals not victimized by crime and 600% higher than victims of crimes other than rape.
Consequently it shouldn’t come as a surprise that drugs and alcohol are commonly used as a coping aid post rape. A study examining a random sample of sexual assault victims found that 44% took prescription drugs (mostly sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants) to cope with the attack. How many self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs? We don’t know. We do know that close to 90% of women who are habitual heroin or cocaine users are also sexual assault survivors. Many have been raped more than once. And nearly two-thirds were children when they were first sexually assaulted.
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Last week the glorious US justice system brought us the acquittal of two NYC cops accused of raping an intoxicated woman they had escorted back to her apartment–this despite the fact that one of the cops admitted to climbing into bed with the nearly naked woman while his partner stood guard. This week we have a Pennsylvania jury failing to reach a verdict in the rape case of 31-year-old Jacquay Hall–this despite the fact that there’s a 911 recording of the assault in which the victim can be heard begging her attacker not to rape her while he tells her to “shut the fuck up” and threatens to “bust [her] up.” The same jury acquitted Hall of kidnapping, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful restraint and resisting arrest, but found him guilty of making terroristic threats and carrying a gun without a license.
According to the 18-year-old victim, Hall followed her down the street, pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her if she didn’t come with him. Unbeknownst to him, she had a cell phone in her pocket and managed to dial 911. For the next 24 minutes, she kept her phone turned on while he grabbed her by the arm and led her to an abandoned parking garage, where he raped her. On the 911 tape, the victim can be heard trying to talk herself out of being raped:
“I’ll give you my phone number and we can hang out or something… I wish you would let me go.”
She also offers to give him her bank card and asks him, again and again, to leave her alone:
“Please don’t do anything to me, please. Please leave me alone. Please. No. Please don’t do anything to me.”
Hall is heard repeatedly telling the victim to “shut the fuck up” and threatening to “bust her up.”
At one point, she tells him:
“Please don’t do this. I don’t want to have sex.”
To which he responds:
“Too late. Shut the fuck up.”
Eventually she says:
“I’ll do anything you want. Please don’t hurt me, please.”
911 dispatchers were able to determine the victim’s general location based on the closest cell phone tower, but Hall had already raped her by the time police arrived. When Hall and the victim heard the sirens, she told him she had no idea why police were in the area, reminding him that she hadn’t screamed. She then told him she urgently needed to use the bathroom and when he allowed her to go, she ran toward the approaching cop cars.
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Last week I was leaving a comment at Corrente, referencing my own rapes and PTSD in response to a rape-minimizing, victim-discrediting post. As soon as I typed the word “rapes,” I was seriously tempted to hit the backspace key and erase the “s.” Because while virtually all victims who speak out about their rape have, at times, been greeted with that special combo platter of disbelief, blame, othering, and trivialization, an additional stigma frequently attaches to those who’ve been raped on more than one occasion.
It’s been my experience that even individuals who respond sympathetically to discovering that a woman was raped once, often have the following reactions upon hearing someone was raped on two or more separate occasions:
Response #1: “She is probably one of ‘those’ feminists; you know, the type that thinks of nearly all heterosexual intercourse as rape. I bet if I heard the details of those supposed rapes, they wouldn’t sound like rapes at all.”
Response #2: “I wonder what she’s doing to bring on these attacks; after all, most women are never raped, so someone raped multiple times is probably being extremely reckless/stupid/provocative/victim-blaming-adjective-of-choice” (note that response #1 frequently turns into response #2 once the individual is satisfied that the victim’s experiences don’t sound like consensual sex after all).
In the US, one in four women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape at least once in her lifetime. That’s an estimate based on victimization surveys, and it means that 75% of all US women will go through their entire life without anyone trying to rape them. So how is it that some women are raped not just once, but multiple times?
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Another powerful man has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman, and while it may be tempting to say that the media coverage has been shockingly bad, the truth is that there’s nothing shocking or even surprising about it. This is the type of coverage we’ve come to expect every time a woman has the tremendous courage needed to report a rape, particularly when the man who raped her is rich and powerful and she isn’t.
Unless you’ve spent the past week under a rock, you’ve heard about the arrest of International Monetary Fund chief (now resigned) Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges. DSK, who also happened to be the likely presidential candidate of the French Socialist Party and a very real threat to Sarkozy, stands accused of anally and orally assaulting a hotel employee and attempting to rape her vaginally. The victim, a poor African immigrant employed as a chambermaid, reported the attack to hotel management who eventually called the police. When the cops arrived, DSK had already left the hotel and was headed to JFK to grab the afternoon flight back to France. Police caught up with him at the airport ten minutes before take-off and took him into custody.
It’s not so much the actual case I want to discuss as the puke-worthy media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s as if feminism never happened! Feminists have tried to get across the message that rape isn’t sex and isn’t even about sex for, oh I don’t know, several decades now. Rape can be about power, control, entitlement, anger, rage, domination, and hate. Sexual contact/penetration is just the weapon. FBI profilers divide rapists into four categories–Power Reassurance, Power Assertive, Anger Retaliatory, and Anger Excitation–based on their motivation and modus operandi. Nowhere to be found in this typology is the “nice guy” who is so overcome with sexual desire by the sight of an attractive woman that he “just can’t help himself.” That’s because that guy doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately this message has clearly been falling on deaf ears. Not only does the mainstream media believe that rape is about sex, but they’re actually repeating the refrain of rape apologists everywhere that rape is just sex. News report after news report refers to the allegations against DSK as “sex charges,” a “sex scandal,” and a “hotel-sex case.” And I’ve lost track of the number of articles equating an act of torture (yes, rape is recognized as a form of torture) with extramarital affairs or eccentric but consensual sexual practices, while the author ponders the “cultural divide” between France and the US. The LA Times, for example, informs us that “(i)n sexual matters, the French consider themselves open-minded and liberal and dismiss Americans in particular — and Anglo-Saxons in general — as puritanical and uptight. It follows, therefore, that a French politician’s sexual peccadilloes, extramarital affairs and indiscretions are nobody’s business but his own.” Oh yeah, totally. Some dude tearing off your clothes and ramming his dick into every orifice as you’re desperately trying to fight him off, hey, that’s just a minor indiscretion on his part. Nobody’s business but his own and certainly nothing to make a big deal about. After all, you wouldn’t want to be “puritanical and uptight.”
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