Mental Health Month #Day 7 “Rape”

Rape isn’t a subject people talk about very often. Sadly it’s a subject people joke about quite a bit.

The first time I heard a rape-joke I didn’t get it. It was too disgusting to ‘get’ and I am glad I didn’t. Everyone else did though and they all laughed. At the time I didn’t think how someone sitting there who had been raped would feel, but statistics tell us, that likelihood is quite high considering that 80 percent of rape goes unreported and even the reported numbers are staggering.

How a rape joke could hope to be funny, baffles me, but it maybe is more telling of our society as a whole, that we can laugh at true misfortune and tragedy. That’s not gallows humor, that’s just sick.

Rape is never funny. Rape is never something that doesn’t matter. Perhaps if we acted like it mattered more, those who were rape survivors would not be more subject to a plethora of mental illness.

That’s why rape is a subject this Mental Health Month. Because the link between rape and mental illness exists. Rape can among other things, be a cause or contributing cause or exacerbation of; PTSD, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Depression, Phobias, Suicidality and Suicide, Cutting/Self-Harm and many other conditions.

We’ve talked in earlier posts about how that doesn’t diminish the very real and medical ‘illness’ of mental disorders, and just because an act pushes someone toward feeling a certain way, does not decrease the legitimacy of the illness part of any mental disease. Illness can and is caused by trauma, and there are few things more traumatic to a girl or woman (or boy or man) than rape.

Perhaps though there is one thing worse and that is not being believed, or the act of rape being diminished or ignored.

I hope most of you have watched The Hunting Ground, a documentary on Campus rapes here in America, but if you have not yet, and you have children, know college age kids, or people who work on campuses, it is compulsory viewing not to be missed.

Ultimately the numbers of rapes committed in any situation are underreported, under prosecuted, and not punished. Some judges do not believe a rapist should go to jail. It is often said ‘but he’s such a good boy and he has his entire life ahead of him’ and this stands as a perfectly reasonable explanation for not giving a rapist a harsher sentence.

The other big let-down as far as rape in the legal system goes, is that rape has a statute of limitations and thus, if five years pass and you do not report your rape you are not protected under the law anymore and cannot prosecute your rapist. This is not true for many other crimes including murder, and financial embezzlement. In other words, you can prosecute someone for stealing from you years later, but you cannot prosecute someone for raping you after a certain time period. Great message you’re giving the survivor!

In the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out this exists because the likelihood of having proof after five years is diminished and it is to protect those falsely accused many years later. But that relies upon a significant swath of false accusations and assumes that proof must exist to punish a rape rather than taking the word of the survivor. Therein lies the rub. It is a difficult subject to prosecute when it’s one person’s word against another and historically women have not been believed over men who were upstanding and respected in the community. So if you’re a prostitute and you are raped by a politician, don’t expect anyone to believe you.

Maybe we cannot do enough about this to change it entirely, but speeding up the rate of prosecution cases, ensuring all rape kits are tested (when so many lie untested due to lack of funding) ensuring the survivors are not ‘blamed’ during their legal ordeal, and educating everyone about the low figures of false reporting, may make some difference.

As with anything we can find examples of those who cried wolf, but that is literally true of anything human. It is singular to rape survivors that they are accused of ‘making it up’ as if everyone involved knows of 1000 x cases of liars who pretended they were raped for whatever gain. We should as we do with ‘innocent until proven guilty’ assume someone is likely to be telling the truth when they pluck up the courage and report being raped. If nothing else, something is wrong.

No more so than on campuses across America today, where so many young people are raped and do not report it knowing it will not go anywhere, or do report it and find those who raped them are not penalized sufficiently because they are a star football player. This inequality of punishment needs to be eliminated because what you are effectively saying is, you are not worth as much as the rapist or we do not believe your rape mattered enough to punish this person.

Sometimes I have heard people say ‘she’s too ugly to be raped she must be lying’ and awful things like that. I had one person told by a police officer that because she admitted she was gay, she had obviously chosen to ‘try the other side’ for the night when she was dragged along the street at night and raped by a stranger in an abandoned warehouse. Sure. She wanted it.

Seeing why people who survive rape, are at high risk for some kind of short-term mental illness or at high risk for exacerbating a pre-existing one, is obvious when you look at the details of what someone really goes through. The aftermath of rape is nearly always the worst part. We need to bring our ability to empathize and our compassion to the table and treat all rape cries seriously.

I have worked in two Rape Crisis Centers and the second one I worked in, only prosecuted a handful of cases via the authorities, due to the enormous back-log of DNA testing (rape kits) and the desire of the authorities to plea deal rather than prosecute. Let us not forget a plea deal is often a free pass for a rapist and his offense is often knocked down to a smaller crime that will not indicate to someone looking at his record, that he is a serial rapist. Typically those who rape do so again and again, so if we do not incarcerate them, reeducate them and rehabilitate them if possible they will go out and do it again.

Likewise those who are beyond our help are still let out onto the streets along with paedophiles whom they know will re-offend it’s just a matter of time. How does this happen? How can we justify this?

For those survivors who tell others that they were raped, it is on our shoulders to be as supportive and gentle as possible with someone who confides in us. So often rape is a subject of humor and fun making and there is literally, nothing funny about rape.SAAMP2017 (SM)7

https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/

https://www.rainn.org/

National Sexual Abuse Hotline: 800-656-HOPE

How to respond to a survivor: https://www.rainn.org/articles/how-respond-survivor

 

https://mirrorwithoutglass.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/mental-health-month-day-7-rape/

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73 thoughts on “Mental Health Month #Day 7 “Rape”

      1. Busy can be good but I hope you find time to write because you are VERY GOOD AT IT and should not neglect that creative outlet and talent (okay I’m selfish I want to read your stuff!!! ha ha!) lots of love beautiful soul xo

        Liked by 1 person

  1. And let us not forget all of us date raped. How
    Can we come forward when “he’s our boyfriend, and she said yes before but no this time?”, or when we find out that the consensual sex we had was really a “game” for the boy and we feel used and dirty after? None of these situations are easy to come forward about, to talk about, and leave lasting scars. This is the first time I’ve mentioned these two incidents in over 2 decades. But they live with me daily

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely correct and a very good addition and point to be made. My apologies for not including this specifically as it should have been. I was reading in the Encyclopedia of Rape (which is a superb book) about this and how until quite recently this was not even protected in any way by the law but even though it now is, it is notoriously harder to prove and thus, so many who experience date-rape see their rapist go free. You are so right. Thank you for mentioning this and having the courage to speak up, it makes a difference, if one person reads your words it makes a difference. I applaud you for your courage and most of all I support you. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just thinking about this today in another way. Possible the precursor to rape in some instances. While riding the bus I very often witness young women getting on the bus, sitting down and listening to music and reading. A man might start the act of attempting to make unwanted advances on her. I will often watch closely when I see this occurring. I can see the unease within the young woman who has politely turned off her music in order to listen to this man. He will not let her be. She tries to show disinterest but this seems to cause him to persist even more. There have been times when I go and sit in the vicinity and even try to break the focus of the man on the woman, possibly by asking him a simply question to let him know that others are aware of him. The power of his focus has often resulted in his becoming angry with me for interrupting. I just want him to know that others are aware of him to pull him out of his bubble of control.

    When we speak of mental health issues, the man is also mentally ill. Jail for the offence of rape is a way to ensure that they don’t hurt another woman. Yet it is such a silent thing that is occurring in the man. I am not defending the men who do this, only saying that the issue is that of power and control. One that is often acceptable within the society. Power being very much accepted in the society. It is a societal issue. With most societal issues of this sort, it is also a very individual issue. Meaning that the problem is within the man. Within his mental health. Within who he is, or perceives he is. Maybe, in an idealistic world where mental health is taken seriously, these men could find help before they attempt to violate and deeply hurt a woman. Hurt her more than physically but often times for the rest of her life.

    If a man feels powerless in a society that lives for power and control then he might seek power by imposing himself on a woman in order to feel some temporary feeling of power. Of course, once he experiences this power and then it is lost afterward, the man might continue to seek this power again, becoming a serial rapist.

    There are no easy answers to this problem. It is true that we need to take this very seriously. No woman should ever have to feel vulnerable and helpless in the world. Women should be able to feel that the society is on their side and, even if the society has not protected her from the rape, they should protect her afterward with compassion, gentleness and love while, at the same time, enforcing justice upon the rapist. Women should be able to travel and live in relative safety. I have spoken with women who ride the bus or commuter trains and they tell me story after story of men making unwanted advances on them. Just these unwanted advances can be traumatic for them. They ride the bus because they have to but they never feel truly safe. Sometimes they feel very afraid. This is not the way for a woman to have to feel in a supposed “civilized” society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent post ! Thank you. I completely agree. As you rightly point out, a precursor is a good predictor of future behavior and occurs regularly, that does not mean those men or women will go on to rape someone but it shows a profound lack of respect for boundaries which sometimes is caused by a lack of understanding of boundaries that is legitimate but for the most part is caused by a lack of respect for another person which is one thing any rapist will possess in order to be capable of committing the crime of rape. This is also true online, when I started on Facebook it happened to me and most of the young women I knew and some who were not typically targets going all the way up to a woman in her eighties, getting pictures of penises sent in text messages and FB chat, for no reason, totally unsolicitied. I feel sorry for anyone who experiences this. It is another way of violating someone’s boundaries and right to be unmolested. Your points are superb and I so appreciate the care and effort in your answer. I feel very strongly that women and men should be able to live unmolested and yet, as you say, I feel scared often when alone that I could be attacked and I think I would whether I had personally experienced it or not, because it’s about the reality of our society, too many damaged and sociopathic souls willing to take by force what is not theirs.

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  3. Rape is such a painful awful subject. Joking about it or making false accusations — or even insinuations — are NEVER acceptable. We need to protect, help and help heal all the victims of heinous violent crimes. Rape is so utterly violent — psychically, physically and spiritually — and it is vital that we as men and women of conscience not only stand with victims and stand against perpetrators, but also reach out and lift up the victims and their loved ones.

    We need to remember that jokes about rape distract and diminish and potentially hurt in non-obvious ways. It’s not just about making a victim uncomfortable, or even having them deal with emotions again (all of which are terrible enough), but even more so, we risk encouraging more rapes AND potentially let rapists off the hook for their crimes.

    Having lived in a family where rape was accused but then found (admitted) to have not happened AND a rape was unreported for years that DID happen, I’ve see the devastation first hand. It’s soul-crushing.

    And I’m glad you brought up the subject with the links. Thank you. You really are doing something important.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Everything you have said is true. I’m glad you shared the story of your own experience within your family and how it can go both ways and how hard that can be to unravel and work out. Sometimes when you see it first hand you can understand best of all – other times people need to read about it to realize the nuance of sexual assault and how many ways it can impact us. Thank you my friend (my VERY BELOVED friend) for your support.

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  4. An excellent post and so many wise observations. But please don’t let us forget the boys and men who are raped – I have a male friend who was raped when he was a naive drunk 17 yr old.. The effects on a male victim of rape are also devastating and we must take care not to let these voices go unheard, there have stigmas too. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very well said and important. I post about this also but you are absolutely right to bring it up, many males get raped and it can be much harder for them in terms of resources and reactions. Thank you for saying this. So true. Stigma cuts both ways. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, when I wrote my comment I hadn’t considered that you must be very dedicated about this issue too.. and I admire your empathy and commitment to this. But yes, we must speak about the male victims as much as we can too. Well done TheFeatheredSleep and warmest wishes dear friend xo.

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    1. Dearest Rain, thank you for reading and re-reading, that means a lot because I feel so strongly about this, having just read a book about rape in US campuses I’m all up in arms, and of course the inevitable link with mental health. Thank you for being someone who cares and makes a difference.

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      1. You are very welcome, and I’m so glad to have discovered your impassioned and true voice. Another aspect which may sometimes be neglected, is that people with learning and/ or developmental difficulties are incredibly vulnerable to sexual violence (as well as institutional, physical, chemical, coercive abuse). We tend to think of “evil” perpetrators, but you are right to look at systems of power and how important it is to make a stand. x0

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      2. Thank you my friend. Agreed, more vulnerable populations are at even higher risk of rape, rape in nursing homes is rife and usually people say ‘but why would someone want to rape an ugly old person?’ showing the hideous foolishness of those who do not understand rape is about power and not sex or even, attraction, but the desire to dominate. Very true. I definitely think a rapist can be evil but isn’t always, and the system is the true evil because it perpetuates the rape-culture and lack of prosecution xo

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  5. Thank you for this important post, and for the shout out for my book. I’m glad you’ve found it valuable, even though some of it might be a bit dated now. It is unfortunate that there is still a need for such books.

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    1. Interesting I had NEVER heard of that. I will definitely watch it. Thank you very much I really did want to see any other films similar to Hunting Ground – really appreciate the recommendation and that you read this. Thank you so much!

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  6. There is nothing funny about it and I shut it down, hard. Whenever anyone tries that shit around me. Nothing, nothing makes me as angry, as rageful, as rape. I don’t tolerate jokes, don’t tolerate snide remarks, or any hint that someone thinks it or any variation of non-consent is acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t get some people who can just openly joke about such a heinous act… The only joke I would want to hear about that subject is if the guy’s penis was cut off and put down a garbage disposal ….

    In a recent study at the University of North Dakota in 2015 researchers found a response to one question very telling about:

    “According to the survey, which analyzed responses from 73 men in college, 31.7 percent of participants said they would act on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they were confident they could get away with it. When asked whether they would act on “intentions to rape a woman” with the same assurances they wouldn’t face consequences, just 13.6 percent of participants agreed.”

    Full Article is here: https://thinkprogress.org/1-in-3-college-men-in-survey-say-they-would-rape-a-woman-if-they-could-get-away-with-it-ffa7406b9778

    I was amazed at BOTH statistics in the sense that even 13.6 Percent ( and I imagine this is higher yet due to the likelihood of some participants lying to the question) is even way to high in an admittance of intention for such an act.

    That’s crazy! What the fuck.

    Sorry I get emotional about shit like this. What is wrong with some men….we are supposed to protect women (not Chauvinistic when I say that) they should feel safe around us.

    It’s just fucking sad some men haven’t gotten past their Cave man mentality.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom on this C… much love sister xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. P I agree with you and it doesn’t surprise me but it should! I get emotional about it too I totally agree. I do believe a lot of men (NOT all men) would if they could (get away with it) also I think it’s more likely at certain ages and scenarios (no excuse) and alcohol/drugs make it more likely (no excuse) but when you really look at the numbers then you imagine 80 percent more! (only 20 percent of raped people report it) then it’s MIND BLOWING then add the numbers who are sexually abused or raped by relatives, in childhood, and it’s a fucking epidemic! Yet nothing is done. I think and this will sound sexist, until more men are affected nothing will change, and unfortunately when a man is raped he is usually raped by another man so he feels that’s a ‘gay issue’ (which it isn’t) and not enough is said about women raping men but even if it were, it’s not enough to change anything but until men EXPERIENCE it they may never seek to equalize the law, for example make it a crime no matter how long ago it happened. AND PROSECUTE IT! the other problem is the proof factor, even with DNA we don’t seem to be doing a better job, doesn’t help when DNA gets contaminated or lost or just isn’t tested. The Trump administration is cutting more mental health stuff including funding to rape crisis centers, that part scares me, because without resources, people kill themselves. Thank you for being the man I know you are, a good man, a man worthy of anyone.

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      1. I try to step up when I am able C 🙂 . I wanted to reblog this but my WordPress has being doing something glitchy with me reblogging…not sure if its a setting or my browser or what…. I will figure it out! Laters Keep on keeping the fight….. and thanks for your comment dear 🙂 xo

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    1. Thank you so much for reading. I feel that if we all considering this more it would help and so many this month are writing on these subjects I applaud them for their efforts and felt I ought to join in – thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am most sad I can not reblog your work. You have such a great & magnificent talent. Not to be notified when you post new work is also a great problem to me, but you know whats best for you. I admire, love & respect you and your wealth of talent & skill. Ciao Bella Mon Amie.

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  9. Hi I am an Indian and we have like daily more than 15 rape case in our daily news papers. I am a boy but I am hunted with this I always wait outside whenever my sister goes out for any party. Its just not right thing I am not so good in pshycology but I know there is nothing that can be attained by ruining someone’s life like that.

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    1. Dear manpoetryblog it is good you do that for your sister, your care of her is something we should all be doing, and I admire you for being one of the good people who protects others. I wish more people were like you. Thank you for sharing your experiences I have heard other countries can have higher rape incidences that go unpunished, it’s a epidemic and must be fought. Thank you

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  10. Hello. Thank you. The school system teaches are girls to make sure a condom is used. But they don’t teach them that they have a right to say no or change their minds or defend themselves. Something wrong with that? Why are they not being taught all of their rights???

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    1. Exactly. It is misguided. Maybe it’s not ideal to hand out condoms to kids, but if we know they are having sex, better that than ignoring it. As far as sexual assault there is still the shame put on the girl as if she did something to deserve it.

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  11. I started my blog as a way to find my voice. From a mothers perspective as my daughter was sexually assualted 2x in a 13 month time span. Please if you get a chance read it. It gets into the thinking and emotional process of a parents guilt and shame of rape. And how it does impact the whole family. I just started a month ago. It’s been 3 years and I’m at a point where I age. So much anger.

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    1. It is good you did this for your daughter, as many parents do more harm than good to their children when they find out they were raped, it shows you are trying and care, the anger is understandable, I find it strange if people were not angry.

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    1. This is the kind of response I would write. So I feel you. And I give you an across the web hug. I feel more should be said about this obviously. There is a great book about it called Encylopedia of Rape it’s pretty expensive but you can get a cheaper copy second-hand on Amazon it was written by someone here on WP and is very good explaining so much of why our society is so awful about this subject and also the history of it. I think after reading that I felt it was so tied to mental health I had to write about it. On the one hand I am glad you read it and got something from it but on the other I would never wish anyone having to know these things. I wish you only good things going forward and a big hug and appreciation for your words

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    1. Just read your account T. The courage of your truth and survival is both inspirational and testimony to the woman you are. That some peiple can treat others as chattel to get their needs met at any cost, the degregation of their inhuman behavior will always horrify me, i never want to stop being horrified. Ever. You wonder how boys that she can possess the evil for those acts? I am thankful for your survival, your courage and your voice. You are a beautiful spirit rebalancing the bad in this world.

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  12. Thank you so much! I had horrible mental health problems instigated by the trauma I experienced. People do not understand that rape leaves you changed even on a fundamental brain chemistry level. It’s so hard to heal from alone and without treatment. Society must absolutely open up to us so we can get the treatment we need. Thank you for highlighting this connection. I look forward to exploring this issue myself on my own blog. 🙏🏾🙏🏽🙏🏼

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    1. I’m so very sorry when anyone experiences anything on this spectrum of abuse. The fact that it is common place is horrifying to me, I will never stop being horrified and we must all of us, survivors and witnesses, speak out to stop this from becoming normalized and okay. Even today there are things that are neglected because some people do not believe this is an area worthy of funding and support. That staggers me. Everyone, all men, have some female in their family but so many just don’t care or believe women ask for it. LIkewise, those men who are abused, cannot find anyone to talk to about it and are shamed when they do. I totally agree with you about brain-changes and am glad you brought that up and that you are going to do that on your own blog. Bravo. I for one support you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, thank you because you CARE and you will make a difference and that will help so many others, so I totally respect you. If you ever want to collaborate on something let me know, I really believe in this subject matter above most others, because of the neglect it suffers xo

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