Saturday, February 10, 2007

Improvements Being Made in Investigation of All Sex Crimes

This entire story is worth reading about the progress that's been made by many law enforcement agencies to better understand the full scope of sexual violence and in turn to better fight sexual violence.

"It used to be that if a prostitute got raped, it was just part of doing business," said Buffalo Police Detective Lissa M. Redmond. [...] "Now we've come to realize that when you're looking at a serial rapist, a lot of times prostitutes are the first ones they target," she said. "Their cases are as serious as anyone else's. It may be that they're drug users or prostitutes. They live lifestyles that make them vulnerable to be victims. It doesn't mean they deserve it." (emphasis added)

There's a reason beyond physical vulnerability that would-be stranger rapists begin their pattern with prostitutes.

Whenever someone talks dismissively about a report of rape by someone who is prostituted or in any form of sex work, either because they reject the claim of rape or because the reject that any sexual acts against that person are hurtful, they are contributing to the type of violence they dismiss. Rapists feed off more than their victims, they feed off other people's callousness and ignorance.

When people say, "She's just a ****" what present and future rapists hear is, "Go ahead and rape her, nobody will care and some people would give you a high five for it." They might even replay other people's statements verbatim as they are building up to rape and as they convince themselves after rape that they are no different from all those other men.

If a rapist is going to replay my words in his head, I want my words to be telling him why he must stop.

That serial rapists can convince themselves that they aren't much different from the rest of the men in our society should be a wake-up call to men who get defensive when talking about rape and who get antagonistic toward those who support alleged rape victims.

Men who work in law enforcement need to be doubly careful about the way they talk about alleged rape victims. When cops bash women as a bunch of liars, rapists cheer because their world view is being validated by a real authority. In several comment threads men who believe half of all rape reports are lies have suggested going to the local courthouse and start asking cops waiting to testify about whether women cry rape. They said it won't take much work to find a cop who will dish the dirt against women.

Dishing the dirt often has more to do with personal experiences, resentment and fears than informed opinion about the overall reality of sex crimes and the reporting of sex crimes.

Certain types of rapes may seem more traumatic to untrained cops simply because certain crime scenes are more traumatic and looking at certain crime victims has a visceral impact on the cop. That can lead to the fallacy that if the cop can't see it or feel it, nothing traumatic happened.

The contrast in impact may even result in anger at the rape victim who looks unhurt. Her appearance alone may seem to be proof that she's lying about having been raped. Then if she talks of being coerced rather than forced at knifepoint or gunpoint, the contrast may result in personal anger at this "rape" victim.

Those who talk about being against "real" rape when explaining why they dismiss certain alleged victims need to understand that they are fostering the build up to "real" rape.

Capt. A. Daniel Shea, a 33-year police veteran who is chief of detectives for the Town of Hamburg, recalled his early days as a young patrolman when sex crimes, particularly those against prostitutes, weren't considered very seriously.

"A prostitute may not have been given as much attention as [her case] should have been," Shea said. "You'd think: "That's what she was doing out there: making money for committing lewd acts. How could she be raped? You can't rape the willing.' "

I wish all police officers would work to educate themselves so they aren't accidentally helping rapists by treating real rape victims as if they are liars or delusional.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:19 AM   1 comments links to this post


At February 12, 2007 11:35 AM, Anonymous Vera Venom said...

I happen to live in Buffalo, NY and can tell you all of this new found enlightenment is coming out because after a 20 raping/killing spree a man has been arrested and charged with being the "Bike Path Rapist".

He had also been picked up several times for solicting prostitutes.

Finally, they made the connection.


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