Kristin Cooper, a college sophomore, lay dead in her family's living room. At her side was a spiral notebook that kept her fatal secret.
She was home from Baker College, a small school in Kansas, for the winter break. Earlier that
night _ New Year's Eve, 1995 _ Kristin had told her parents she was going out with friends and that she was the designated driver. Instead, her mother says, Kristin shot herself in the head.
Kristin's nearby journal chronicled her first 1 1/2 years of college life, including the five pages of red ink that told about the night she was raped by a man she thought was her friend and the
subsequent "blackness" and grief she felt.
So many people, especially those who oppose taking all rape allegations seriously, either don't know rape can be this devastating or they don't want to acknowledge this reality. Most likely Kristen's rapist seemed like a nice man and she thought if she reported it that the niceness which fooled her would fool many other people too.
I understand the darkness that comes from a rape you're afraid to reveal. The anger I had toward my rapist/boyfriend and anyone else who tried to control me kept me from internalizing my pain to point of considering suicide, but the way I coped exposed me to other potentially deadly forces.
The amount of victim blaming that goes on and the amount of responsibility put on girls and women to prevent their own rapes can take a heavy toll.
We need to reach out to victims in pain, but we all need to reach out to those who feel they have the right to trample other people's sexual boundaries and get them to change their ways before they hurt someone.
Just as we don't focus on defensive driving to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents, we shouldn't focus on defensiveness to reduce the number of rapes. We understand that one sober person's ability to slam on the brakes in time to avoid a crash doesn't reduce the danger from that drunk driver, but many of us don't understand this concept when it comes to rape.
The drunk driver is a menace and the danger is eliminated only when that person stops getting behind the wheel under the influence or that person is locked up.
We understand that not all drunk drivers are monsters so we try to educate them before they put themselves and others in danger. Why is it so hard for people to understand this same strategy should be taken when it comes to rape?
Prevention must include a strong focus on those with habits which are dangerous to others.
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