miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Some people will find this entire entry triggery. I apologise for that in advance, but I think what I am putting here needs saying. I've put the worst bits behind a cut.

Sometimes a person fails through lack of empathy; this is not their fault, necessarily, although it can be if they do it wilfully. But mostly, it's just that they haven't really thought about what it would be like to be another person. There has been a lot of vilification of Ken Clarke today for comments he has made about rape, and I find the revulsion that he has triggered in many people entirely understandable. But then, I have been raped. I suspect Ken Clarke hasn't. And I further suspect that most of the people who think the way that he seems to on the matter of rape have not been raped either. It seems to me that most of the people who think that way have only considered the physical ramifications of a rape: if you are forced to have sex against your will by someone you have never met, there is much more likely to be the use of a weapon and much more likely to be serious physical injury, therefore that is worse than so-called "date rape".

This takes no consideration of the psychological effects of rape whatsoever.

I'd like to put forward four scenarios for your consideration, dear reader, and then there will be a poll. I'd like you to answer for yourself in the poll because obviously, none of us can know how another person will react. As always, if you don't have a Dreamwidth account you can log in with openID (any google, blogger, yahoo, myspace, wordpress, flickr, or lots of other accounts can function as an openID) here.

Scenario 1 You are on your third date with someone you have known for a while. At the end of the evening, which has been a pleasant one, you are tired and just want to go home. Your date wants to have sex. Despite your unwillingness, your date presses the matter, and forces you to have sex against your will. You know that nobody will believe that you didn't do this willingly, because your date is seen as a good person by your social group - otherwise you wouldn't be dating them in the first place.

Scenario 2 You are sitting in your living room watching TV. Suddenly, the door flies open, and a masked person with a weapon bursts in. This person threatens you with the weapon and forces you to have sex with them against your will. You have no idea who they are, and they leave immediately afterwards.

Scenario 3 You are walking home from work. You get dragged into a secluded area by someone you have never met before and forced to have sex against your will.

Scenario 4 You are in an abusive relationship. Your spouse regularly forces you to have sex against your will, and today is no different. You have lost count of the number of times your spouse has raped you.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 26


Which scenario do you think would have the worst PHYSICAL effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
1 (3.8%)

2
17 (65.4%)

3
15 (57.7%)

4
15 (57.7%)

Which scenario do you think would have the worst PSYCHOLOGICAL effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
11 (42.3%)

2
9 (34.6%)

3
3 (11.5%)

4
22 (84.6%)

Which scenario do you think would have the MOST LONG-LASTING effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
5 (19.2%)

2
5 (19.2%)

3
1 (3.8%)

4
25 (96.2%)

Which scenario do you think would have the worst OVERALL effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
2 (7.7%)

2
3 (11.5%)

3
2 (7.7%)

4
26 (100.0%)


For me, scenario 4 is the worst by far. Each individual occurrence is at least as bad as scenario 1, and it keeps happening, and you have no way of knowing when or if it will end. If you tell anyone what is happening, it is extremely likely they will say to you why don't you just leave? ignoring the fact that countless statistics say that leaving an abusive relationship is the most risky thing you can do, in terms of your survival. You can't rely on anyone for support, and the situation is ongoing.

Scenarios 1 and 2 are both equally bad to me. In both you are having your world shaken. In 1, your judgement is called into question. You trusted this person enough to go on several dates with them, and they have shown they cannot be trusted. How many other people you trust can't be trusted? How many people whom you think you know and love will not believe you when you tell them your date has raped you, because your date would never do a thing like that, and it's not rape-rape if you didn't fight back hard, and anyway, it was the third date, shouldn't you have been giving up by then anyway?

At least in 2 people will believe you have been raped, but the sanctity of your home has been breached. Your safe place no longer feels safe. Is ANYWHERE safe?

Scenario 3 is still bloody awful, but for me it's the least awful. The physical damage to my person is likely to be more, but in my mind, I can depersonalise the attacker and rationalise it. I don't have to look my attacker in the face every day and pretend everything is normal. Nobody is going to disbelieve me (unless I was wearing revealing clothing, or had had a drink), and the police will investigate the matter thoroughly. There is the prospect of closure, of seeing my attacker punished, which is just not there in scenarios 1 and (to an extent) 4.

I can understand what people are saying when they say that you can't classify rapes; that each rape must be considered on a case by case basis, and that ranking types of rape is wrong. I can understand it, but I don't fully share that view. I do rank types of rape. I classify them and I rank them. The problem is that I give far more importance to the psychological damage caused by rape, and therefore my rankings are radically different from the rankings of those who only consider the physical damage caused by rape.

For me, I can conceive of cases of date rape that would be less awful than some forms of stranger rape, for example if if a stranger rape happens in a place where you previously felt safe, like your home. But if all other elements of the crime are equal (level of force applied, etc.) date rape is a lot worse than stranger rape. Where I do agree with those who say you can't categorise rape is that each case should be considered on its own facts, and no case of rape should automatically fall into one sentencing bracket or another.

But then, I think that about ALL crimes.
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Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
innerbrat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
I did not know that at all! Thank you.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 11:12 am (UTC)
innerbrat: (opinion)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
Jennie's clarification aside, one of the other biggest mistakes Clarke ade was not calling the interviewer out when she talked about rapists being re-released 'on the victim's street'. He should know that the sex offender's register does not leave the offender alone after release, but monitors his movements beyond the original sentence, and that the VLS keeps the victim informed of major location changes over those years.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 11:29 am (UTC)
ginasketch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
This.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 11:30 am (UTC)
purplecthulhu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecthulhu
Very well said...

I think there are a lot of parallels between how some view rape and how many of the same people view child abuse (of all forms but especially sexual). They don't want to admit that most child abuse is perpetrated by someone known to the victim. In the case of child abuse that's usually a family member, a relative or close friend of the family. Rather than admit this, we as a culture focus on the abuser as the outside threat, the stranger danger, and try to ignore or explain away the larger number of times when the perpetrator is closer to home. This also explains why the reaction to strangers who are a danger is so strong - we're over-compensating. I assume that this is also the case with our reaction as a culture to rape.

Once again we should look to real numbers rather than trusting to instincts. I think that this does happen with child abuse, but rather less so with rape where victim blaming is so much easier.

The other thing that this discussion has once again re-emphasised for me is just how many of the women I know have sexually assaulted in some way - something I find truly horrifying.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
This a good time to mention that you make me proud to be with you?

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: John Byers Disapproves (Disapproving Byers)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
All of those scenarios sound terribly traumatizing.

1 & 4 constitute a massive breach of trust, 2 & 3 would possibly leave the victim in a state of heightened stress & fear in "normal" places for quite a long time afterward (if not forever, I mean, shit, I felt freaked out after my apartment was broken into *when I wasn't even home* for a good couple of weeks).

All of them have high potential for physical injury, possibly of the permanent variety.

Really, I don't think one can just put these acts in some kind of "least bad to most bad" categories because all of them can ruin a person's life. If one must, I suppose 4 would edge out the others in terms of sheer horror due to the long-term, spirit-destroying nature of an abusive relationship.

But, as you said, people react differently to similar situations. And I don't think lawmakers and judges should be trying to determine what the "correct" emotional reaction of a victim of a crime is, and altering their punishment of the perpetrator according to that. It doesn't make any sense.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
With child abuse, rather than victim blaming, you get the idea that the abused will one day become abusers themselves.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:10 pm (UTC)
pmoodie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pmoodie
I agree completely with this. It's easy for me to sit and muse hypothetically about how I might be affected by sexual abuse, but such musings have little bearing on the reality. Each case has to be looked at individually, with the effect on the victim as the deciding factor.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
purplecthulhu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecthulhu
I think - but have no citation for this - that abused becoming abuser is an observed effect. Of course it's not universal by any means.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
purplecthulhu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecthulhu
Quite... I guess there's some level of 'denial' in those cases as well as levels of 'self blame' - that if they had done something different they'd not be in the current dire circumstances themselves.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: John Byers Disapproves (Disapproving Byers)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
Truthfully, even if the victim just shrugs it off and goes on without blinking (unlikely, but we're speaking hypothetically here), I don't think the criminal should have a lesser punishment.

Rape is a serious crime that impacts whole families and communities, it's not just the person who was raped that is the victim. Spouses, children, siblings, friends, neighbors, the people reading the headlines in the news... it's a problem for the whole of society, and not just a "women's issue" and I really can't stand it when people act like it doesn't matter.

We do live in an honest-to-God rape culture, and as long as people are getting away with it or just getting a slap on the wrist, or the blame is shifted onto the victim, we're all living under its shadow, and I think it makes everybody's life just that more dim. :\

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: My cat Rose's eye. (Default)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
I think statistically, child abusers are somewhat more likely to have been abused as a child themselves, but I would be wary of drawing any forgone conclusions based on that. I've known people who had perfectly happy childhoods end up abusive, and others who were abused as children that have turned out to be very loving, nuturing parents.

I think in some cases there isn't really ANY explanation for it, other than piss-poor character & bad judgement.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
purplecthulhu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecthulhu
You may well have a better handle on the statistics than me. And you're absolutely right - just because there *may* be a tendency, it doesn't mean that it applies to every single case (I *so* wish that an understanding of statistics was a requirement for politicians so that they didn't make this mistake all the time).

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
I can't link to anything giving these figures as I'm typing this on my phone, but as I remember, something like 10 per cent of abused people go on to abuse others. Or to put it another way, 90% don't. So it's an increase over the general population, but still very much in the minority.

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
purplecthulhu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecthulhu
Thanks! You definitely have a better handle on the statistics than me!

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
No problem.

Another scenario

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have neither an openID nor a Dreamwidth account but try never to comment anon - Douglas McLellan - www.douglasmclellan.net


Anyway, there is another scenario, or perhaps a variation on the first one, where both people drink enough alcohol to make asking for and granting consent is hard. This make behaviour hard to judge (from the mans perspective) and control (from the womans perspective) so the sex act can be well under way before consent is withdrawn and a rape allegation follows. Your 4 sceaniros are rape, without a doubt. When high levels of alcohol come into play on both sides the lines become less clear.

Re: Another scenario

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: John Byers Disapproves (Disapproving Byers)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
FWIW I've always been of the opinion that drunk-sex is about as stupid and ill-advised as drunk-driving.

Not that my opinion means much of anything...

another aspect to this

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neohippie.livejournal.com
Ok, I've never been raped and don't know much about it, but another thing I keep thinking of is how likely in these various situations is murder to accompany the rape?

I tend to hear about a lot of cases of the 2 or 3 type where the attacker rapes and then murders (or attempts to murder) the victim. In those scenarios I'd not only be sexually violated, but I'd also be fearing for my life.

But I suppose it's possible that the rapists in 1 and 4 are just as likely to end up murdering their victims. It just seems less likely to me for some reason (maybe because when a woman ends up dead, her husband or boyfriend is assumed to be the prime suspect).

So I think I would view 1 and 4 as a great violation of trust, but 2 and 3 would be an "I almost died" situation on top of a rape, like being robbed at gunpoint or being in a serious car accident.

(On the other hand, I HAVE almost died before, but I haven't been raped before, so maybe that's why my mind is fixating on that.)

Re: Another scenario

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
from Douglas McLellan/www.douglasmclellan.net

But what is consent? Is consent drunkenly given actually consent? There is a gap between someone being drunk and having all the inhibitions dropped and not remembering much the next morning and someone being so drunk that they are unconscious. Obviously having sex with a woman in that latter state is rape (I would argue) but the former is an epic grey area.

I really dont mean the predators mentioned above though. I mean the men whose drinking has been on a par with the woman and have had similar drops in inhibitions.
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