Monday, November 05, 2007

Assumptions About Reports Of Rape When Alleged Victim Agreed To Meet Alleged Rapist

From The Morning Call:

[Defendant Brent] Forschner and the girl were found together in a camper at the retreat site Saturday and ordered back to their cabins. When the girl got back to her cabin, she told her chaperone she had been raped. The girl told police she and Forschner had sneaked out for a romantic rendezvous in the camper. She said she repeatedly told Forschner she would not have intercourse with him but he removed her pants and proceeded despite her repeatedly telling him '''no,''' the news release

First, the chaparone from Calvary Baptist Church of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is to be commended for not trying to suppress the report of rape. I wish all chaparones would do the same, but some of them would not.

For some people the undisputed details in this case will cause them to suspect that the 14-year-old girl lied to save her reputation. She was at a church retreat after all and agreed to be alone with this 18-year-old man.

In reality this makes her no more suspect than the woman who reports rape committed by a stranger as she walked home from church. It also makes her no more suspect than the boy or man who reports rape. We as a society are simply more biased against girls and women who are raped by someone they knew and trusted. Those who rape girls or women they know and who trusted them want to keep it that way. Same goes for those who have the "she was asking for it" attitude that sanctions many rapes.

The problem with the false report theory is 2-fold. One, agreeing to be alone and romantic doesn't equal agreeing to sex. Two, he must be at least equally suspect for targetting a 14-year-old girl for sex. A detail that is undeniable unless there is a claim that there was no sex -- consensual or otherwise.

We need more rape prevention messages that tell boys that failing to respect someone else's sexual boundaries makes them more than a jerk, it makes them a criminal. We need to tell them that there are no viable excuses for not stopping. We also need to drop the lie that there are two types of girls -- those who will do nothing and those who will do everything. There is no such thing as consent by type.

As someone raped by a boyfriend who I knew so many years that I can't remember meeting him for the first time, I understand assuming that I had good reason to believe someone was trustworthy in a situation where I normally wouldn't be so trusting. I also understand the assumptions that I was at fault for being vulnerable when the person at fault for my rape was my rapist, not me.

If there had been no discovery that these 2 were alone in a camper, there likely wouldn't have been any disclosure. To some that would be evidence that the disclosure is a lie, but those people clearly have no understanding of what it's like to be raped by someone you trusted.

The victim blaming and rape denial that rape victims hear before the rape have a major impact on disclosure. If other victims were blamed and shamed then that's what this rape victim can and will expect. Many verbal attacks against rape victims are as cruel and mean-spirited as the rape itself.

Then there are the slurs against girls who are seen as sexually active. Girls who are rape victims risk being labeled as dishonest and immoral when they are neither. If the rapist is popular they may also face verbal and physical harassment from so-called good people.

What person in trauma is going to volunteer to have all that directed at them if they don't believe they will have support which outweighs the attacks? In this case the chaparone would be the counterweight to expected attacks.

The ugly truth is that the very same suspicions about the honesty of girls and women who report being raped is used to justify rape.

"Sure she said no to protect her reputation, but girls aren't honest about sex. She's here so I know what she really wants me to do."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:38 AM   1 comments links to this post


At November 20, 2007 8:00 AM, Blogger Atypical Girl said...

I believe you will discover that I have a full analysis of the situation and don't just consider that the victim may have been lying. And, sadly, woman who get raped do lie sometimes. The point of my post is that the truth is hard to find and it's really sad that EVEN if she did meet him to have sex that she may have lied because the church can't accept the truth.


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