This difference between apparent consent and real, legal consent is what so many people can't seem to undertand.
A 16-year-old girl whose parents thought she had run away from home returned with a much different story: She had been repeatedly beaten and raped by a man for four years, one of which she spent captive in his basement. John Paule France Gonzales, 22, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 142 counts, including lewd and lascivious acts on a child, sodomy and penetration with a foreign object.
Gonzales, a pharmacy technician, began molesting the girl when she was 12, while he was dating her aunt, authorities said. He initially molested her at her home, and after breaking up with the aunt, he abused the girl in cars and hotel rooms before forcing her to live with him, they said.
"In the beginning, she felt sorry for him and was trying to prevent him from killing himself," she said. "While there is an element of apparent consent, she was so psychologically abused by this guy. Our allegation is that essentially none of it was consensual. I mean, she was 12, for God's sake."
Part of the difficulty is that many people feel that when they want something from someone else, apparent consent is all they need. It's very convenient for those who exploit others to say that the person who appeared to consent should be the only one held responsible.
Most of those who shout the loudest for personal responsibility are trying to dodge personal responsibility or trying to help someone else dodge personal responsibility for their decisions and their actions.
Another difficulty is people's inability to understand why a victim doesn't immediately tell once they are physically separated from the person who violated them. They assume the problem belongs to the victim when in fact that perpetrator started the psychological abuse long before any physical or sexual abuse begins.
Many sexual exploiters pervert attributes which are needed to be a healthy human being. Attributes such as compassion and empathy. The perpetrator uses language ("you keep me going") so the victim is the only one responsible for what the perpetrator does. Unfortunately, this shifting of responsibility to the victim is made easier by the number of people who blame the victim directly or indirectly.
The calls directed at girls and women to stop playing the victim allow people who victimize others through manipulation and coercion to dodge responsibility for their actions. They also turn what is a unilateral effort into a mutual relationship. Victims in effect get characterized as rapist enablers.
If anyone is a rapist enabler it is the person who blames the victim or who tells victims it was their responsibility to stop themselves from being raped or sexually exploited.
This goes back to many people's rationalizations when they exploit people they know in areas other than sex or physical violence. People often say, "If someone is so stupid that they _____, they deserve it when ____."
So rather than sexual exploiters being in direct conflict with our society, they are a reflection of something that is very much a part of our society. A part most of us would rather deny.
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