Blinders Off

As it turns out, I’ve been walking around with these on most of my life. You probably have too. Not a good look.

As I continue to prep for the early October Interpersonal Violence Think Tank I will be attending, I couldn’t help but be struck by some of the great eye-openers I have come across on the subjects of false reporting, the pathos of rapists and prosecution of sexual assault cases. I am posting them here – with some of my everyday language – because once you read them, you will want to tell others. You will want everyone to be as aware and informed as you are because you care about this issue (if I have ever reached you in any way through the almost two years I have been blogging).

Sexual Predators (from Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence, David Lisak, University of Massachusetts, Boston)

  • Rapists simply are. Most men are not rapists. Those who do rape, tend to rape multiple times. Since so few rapes are reported or prosecuted, most rapists will rape scores of times in their lifetime, undetected and never held accountable.
  • The “accidental” or “nice guy” rapist who raped by accident because he was “confused” about consent and/or it seemed the victim wanted sex is largely a myth. If a woman is raped by an acquaintance, it’s likely he selected her in advance, looked for an opportunity to commit the crime, and then rapes her (or attempts to do so).

Think about that for a moment. I would have much rather been taught this in school than “No means No.” If women were taught this from early on, think about the thousands and thousands of women who would know – without a doubt – that they were indeed raped, that it happened because they were targeted by a predator and not because they somehow failed “to be clear” or have a spotty memory of what actually took place. In this way, “No means No” puts the responsibility on the victim when in fact the rapist doesn’t care about consent because he seeks to rape.

  • Prevention efforts geared toward persuading men not to rape are very unlikely to be effective. It is extremely difficult to change the behavior of a serial predator even when you incarcerate him and subject him to an intensive, multi-year program. I cannot say this enough. Rapists have broken brains. They are defective. This article, in particular, suggests that the slew of undetected (non-incarcerated) rapists don’t consider themselves rapists.

False Reports (from False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault; Dr. Kimberly Lonsway, Sgt. Joanee Archambault, Dr. David Lisak)

  • The percentage of false reports – reports that are proven to be of a sexual assault that did not take place – are in the 2-8% range of all reported cases. And that 8% tends to be high due to some inconsistencies in police classifications of false reports (reports that were investigated and proven false vs reports that were never investigated because the police deemed them likely false).
  • False reports tend to (not all) mimic stranger rape descriptions the general public widely considers “real rape”: stranger comes out of nowhere, violently attacks victim possibly with a weapon, threatens to kill victim, rapes victim and then takes off. Even victims sometimes embellish details of their rape because  the above description is what they know friends and family will accept instead of a rape with no signs of injury, weapons or overt violence.

Prosecution (from Why Rapists Run Free by M. Claire Howard, J.D., and David Lisak, Ph.D)

Prosecutors cannot, or rather, should not choose to avoid prosecution solely because the case is not winnable. There is value in the investigation of acquaintance rape – the most prevalent form of rape – because research shows that such investigations can and do lead to the discovery of other victims. Remember, most rapists rape multiple times. So, even if a victim says she was drunk and raped by a friend who drove her home from a party – even if that case seems hard to prove based on the lack of physical evidence of a crime – the investigation of the alleged rapist can lead to the discovery of additional rapes/victims. I find that a provocative notion and wonder what would happen if more prosecutors understood this or were not so slammed with case work that they could do this.

I continue to glean these very powerful facts for use in some of my upcoming speeches at college campuses and in my general interactions with friends, family and acquaintances. Every interaction is an opportunity to change a perspective, to instill curiosity about the crime and to challenge widely held beliefs of which no one can pinpoint the origins save for the Bible, patriarchal precepts and centuries of recycled myths.

I still consider myself an outsider to the anti-sexual violence community because even though I have been at this for four years now, I am still learning, still absorbing concepts and realizations, and still unraveling my own ignorance that years of damaging media depictions, religious doctrine and inadequate education fostered. As you may recall from my post on victim blaming, seemingly educated and informed people cling blindly to ideas that have no basis in reality, all the time. Worse yet, they’ll defend to the hilt their right to be ignorant and part of the problem. I am going to pray that description never applies to any of you reading this because I think you’ll agree that  on this subject, once you are made aware of the truth – once the blinders are off – you simply cannot ‘un-see’ what is so apparent.

What do you think? Did any of this enlighten you?

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