Out, Damned Spot, Out!
Each of these excerpts below are from other blogs talking about the topic of outing a rapist. I did all this research weeks ago and set this blog post up to publish about two weeks ago. Since then, my rapist outed himself, believe it or not, in a public forum by trying to protest his innocence.
It’s been interesting to say the least, and I just hear bits and pieces. I’m so not engaged. I’m free. See my post yesterday “The R Word” for more info on that.
So, yes, some good points here. Largely, why is the reputation of a possible rapist more important than survivors’ safety? Because if their behavior is close enough to sexual assault to even be called into question, then that’s a huge red flag of a very dangerous person.
Thanks to a widespread culture of victim-blaming and rape apologism, attackers usually have it pretty cushy. Victims are still not likely to report the assault and when they do they’re very likely to be blamed for it—an awful reality that re-traumatizes the victim and paves the way for future rapes.
So making the world more uncomfortable for rapists—letting them know that there will be consequences that include public shaming—is something I’m entirely at ease with. Especially considering how often women are silenced around issues of sexual assault. Sometimes that silence is enforced through a culture that makes women afraid to come forward, but sometimes that silencing is explicit.
In 2007, for example, a Nebraska woman and her attorneys were banned from using the words “rape,” “victim,” “sexual assault”—even “sexual assault kit” in a rape trial lest they prejudice the jury. From Dahlia Lithwick:
The result is that the defense and the prosecution are both left to use the same word—sex—to describe either forcible sexual assault, or benign consensual intercourse. As for the jurors, they’ll just have to read the witnesses’ eyebrows to sort out the difference.
Something tells me mugging victims have never been ordered not use the word “rob” when recounting the crime committed against them—but when it comes to sexual assault, logic and human decency always seem to go out the window.
We live in a country where a videotaped gang rape can result in a hung jury, where jokes about raping a woman are still considered hilarious and where the seriousness of sexual assault is so minimized that writing a research paper on rape is actually considered a reasonable punishment for attackers.
Rape survivors know that there’s a world of shame and stigma that awaits them should they speak up. In this kind of environment talking about sexual assault—let alone reporting it—is not just difficult, it’s straight up heroic.
Preventing victims from naming their attackers—or in this case, even acknowledging the assault—sends the message that rapists’ reputations are more important than a victim’s right to speak up. Savannah Dietrich refused to be silenced. Supporting victims’ voices should be a no-brainer—whether they’re on Twitter, in a courtroom or scrawled across a bathroom wall.
Why is publicly outing someone who has perpetrated rape so often seen as hurting their reputation or stigmatising them?
My understanding of publicly outing someone as a rapist is so that everyone they come into contact with can know their history and choose their level of engagement with that person based on the reality of what they’ve done. Don’t people deserve to know if someone has perpetrated rape? Raping someone is an action that can never be undone, so why is it so wrong for the truth of that action to be public for the rest of the perpetrator’s life? It seems to me as if people think that once a perpetrator has been “held accountable” through some process for their actions, they should be able to earn a clean slate, their name should be cleared and their history erased as if they had never raped in the first place. But why would we want to actively and purposefully cover up the action of rape? What is the incentive in keeping these things quiet, or in providing a future to look forward to where the rape is no longer talked about or known? Shouldn’t it be the right of the community and of everyone who will meet the rapist in the future to be able to make their own fully-informed decisions about that person based on their current behaviour/actions AS WELL AS their past history? Shouldn’t it be the perpetrator’s responsibility to prove that they’ve changed through their current actions and behaviours ALONGSIDE the truth of their past, rather than simply trying to cover up their actions? Wouldn’t publicly outing them provide an actual incentive for them to change their actions, knowing that everyone will be holding them to what they’ve done and far less likely to let them get away with repeat behaviours? Are we choosing to gloss over the fact that most rape is not a stand-alone action but is actually a repeat action based on a series of beliefs and behaviours? Most cases, this one included, are not singular actions of rape. They are repeat actions based on repeat patterns. Shouldn’t it be a matter of public safety for a person who has raped to forever have to hold the public awareness of that action? It’s not like they didn’t do it. It’s not like once they’ve said sorry or taken some classes or done a few things to make up for it that their history is suddenly wiped clean of what they’ve done. Rape is real. It is serious. It is an action that can never be taken back, and an action that leaves a permanent and life-long impact on the person who was raped. Are these things that we’re choosing to overlook because we want for things to go back to “normal” once they’ve left the public sphere?
Here’s how it works: As soon as a rape accusation makes it into the news cycle (most often because the accused is famous), it’s instantly held up against our collective subconscious idea about what Real Rape (or, as Whoopi Goldberg odiously called it, “rape-rape”) looks like. Here’s a quick primer on that ideal: The rapist is a scary stranger, with a weapon, even better if he’s a poor man of color. The victim is a young, white, conventionally pretty, sober, innocent virgin. Also, there are witnesses and/or incontrovertible physical evidence, and the victim goes running to the authorities as soon as the assault is over.
But let’s face it, actual rapes almost never match up to this ideal. Most rape victims know their attacker (estimates range from 75 percent to 89 percent), most rapists use alcohol or drugs to facilitate the assault (More than 80 percent, according to researcher David Lisak), not weapons, and most of the famous men whose accusers receive media attention aren’t poor men of color. But once the accusation hits the news cycle, whatever pundit gets there first uses the non-ideal details of the alleged assault to argue that surely, we shouldn’t take this seriously, and other pundits nod their head in agreement.
Piling on the accuser with victim-blaming language, or questioning why this account doesn’t match what we think sexual assault should look like, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Millions of people are watching and listening as these rape myths are repeated ad nauseam. A 2008 study by Renee Franiuk, published in the journal Violence Against Women, revealed that these narratives make victims less likely to take their own experiences seriously and more afraid of reporting what’s been done to them. Advocates echo these findings: “Media attention around cases such as Kobe [Bryant] and Duke [University], where victim blaming is intense and daily, makes our work even more challenging,” says Stacy Malone, executive director of the Victim Rights Law Center. “It can cause victims to question themselves and silence them into not telling their experiences and not seeking services.”
Just more than half the 33 students interviewed by the Center said their alleged assailants were found responsible for sexual assault in school-run proceedings. But only four of those student victims said the findings led to expulsion of their alleged attackers — two of them after repeat sexual offenses. The rest of those victims said discipline amounted to lesser sanctions, ranging from suspension for a year to social probation and academic penalties, leaving them feeling doubly assaulted. An examination of Title IX complaints filed against institutions with the Education Department revealed similar patterns: Eight students whose complaints stem from reported acts of “sexual assault,” “rape,” and “sexual misconduct” objected to the school’s punishment of their alleged perpetrators. All but one of these eight complaints involved lesser sanctions than expulsion and three ended in no punishment after responsible students appealed. Survey respondents reinforced the belief that schools fail to hold abusive students accountable. One respondent summed up the sentiment this way:
Judicial hearings almost NEVER result in suspension, let alone expulsion. … Alleged perpetrators still remain on campus, in fraternities, and on sports teams.
By contrast, some students, including Margaux, reported dropping out because of what they considered lenient discipline for their alleged perpetrators, whom they feared seeing on campus. Others said their alleged attackers violated school-imposed sanctions, often with little repercussion.
Alisa was just 16 on July 5, 2002, when she was sexually assaulted while unconscious in the Corona del Mar home of then-Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl. The details of what happened to her that night — she was videotaped while being assaulted on a pool table and penetrated with a lighted cigarette and pool cue — were played out in the courtroom and in the media and later sent her over the edge.
“That one night turned my whole life and existence upside down,” Alisa said. “I lost myself, my hopes and dreams — and there was even a point when all I wanted to do was die.”
But Alisa decided to go head-on and testify against her attackers, Haidl’s 17-year-old son, Greg, and his two buddies Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann. Her decision to speak out resulted in torment and humiliation on the witness stand, bouts of depression and drug and alcohol abuse.
This is what happens in societies and communities that are light on rapists. They are giving rapists the green light to do it again. And again. And again. They are saying their reputation is more important than the trauma caused to the victim. And subsequent victims. They are saying they’d rather doubt the victim than doubt the rapist.
Brutally raped three times, but no, they’re not “dangerous.” Insufficient evidence.
Do you know that one of my rape survivor therapists told me that in the US a judge *has* to tell the jury that if the man thought it was consensual, even with overwhelming evidence of violence an DNA, etc., they *can not* convict him.
So. It comes down to the word of the rapist. I’m amazed that even 3% see jail time. It’s no wonder my case didn’t have enough for a criminal case. Only 14% of reported cases ever make it to trial.
And 97% of rapists walk free because so many people won’t believe that one of their “friends” might be a rapist. One in 16 men are rapists, and I’m guessing that’s very conservative with drunken sex and coercion on college campuses. Know 16 men?
Do the math.
Sexual Assault Survivors Speak
~ by omgrey on August 8, 2012.
Posted in Romance & Relationships, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: austin poly rapist, author, bdsm, broken heart, fear, grief, healing, heartbroken, honesty, infidelity, intimacy, love, misogyny, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic personality disorder, non-monogamy, o.m. grey, open, open marriage, passion, polyamory, psychopath, psychopathy, rape, rape culture, rape survivor, rapist, relationship advice, relationships, sex, sexual assault, shattered, sociopath