Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogathon Closeout

For those of you who stuck it out with me for the entire 24 hours in this blogathon, congratulations. Thanks to those who left comments. I haven't had time to read them yet but I will after I get some much needed sleep.


If you haven't made a pledge to help Stop It Now! please do so. If you read this after the pledge period is over, please make a donation directly to Stop It Now! and help prevent childhood sexual abuse.

For those not familiar with my blog, I want to let you know about the twice monthly Carnival Against Sexual Violence. The next nomination deadline is tonight at 11 pm. Click here to nominate a post to the next edition which comes out on Aug. 1.

I'm hopeful about the fight against sexual violence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:00 AM   3 comments links to this post

The Power of Hope In The Face Of Harsh Reality

Hope is easy when everything is going great and nothing is going wrong around you. But real hope is seeing the worst people can do to others and still having hope.


Not pie in the sky hope, but really gritty hope that doesn't ignore a single ugly reality.


This type of hope isn't easy and it isn't without risk or pain. People attack it from a variety of angles and for a variety of reasons. If they are that small then that is their problem.


Sometimes realistic hope means shaking people off or exposing what they are doing which harms others. Sometimes it means finding some way, any way, to endure the roughest patches.


Sometimes realistic hope means temporarily blocking the danger from your vision so you can keep moving slowly and carefully until you are on more solid ground.


Realistic hope means finding reasons to laugh with pure joy. Realistic hope means celebrating the small steps which when combined with many other small steps makes a great journey.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Strong, Effective Laws And Law Enforcement Benefits All Who Are Innocent

So many times it can seem like those who truly want to protect defendant's legal rights and those who truly want to protect rape victims by seeing rapists prosecuted want mutually exclusive items.


I don't believe this is true or that it has to be true.


Effective investigations are better for crime victims and they are better for those falsely accused and they are better for those who fear being falsely accused. Effective evidence collection and storage benefits both victims and innocent defendants.


Effective investigations provide people with more confidence in the criminal justice system and helps make our communities safer.


Effective prevention efforts help reduce the number of interactions where one person thinks what they did was acceptable while the other person was harmed.


There are wonderful possibilities for positive change. We just have to keep those possibilities in sight when people seem intent on doing everything they can to keep the worst of the status quo going strong no matter who it hurts.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Injustice On The Cheap

The quickest and least expensive way to have injustice isn't to convict and then incarcerate innocent men. That's expensive in direct costs and in restitution.


No, the cheapest and most common way to see injustice done is to let reports of serious crime like rape and sexual abuse languish. Better yet mark them as cases that don't require any further investigation.


Rape victims who are failed by the system will never be allocated payments as long as they aren't charged with a crime and aren't able to produce the DNA of their rapist. The lack of visibility doesn't mean this failure isn't happening repeatedly.


I wish this were something that didn't happen, but it is a frequent injustice which is often labeled by some as "our justice system simply protecting defendant rights."


This isn't how our system is supposed to work and we don't have to put up with it when it does happen.




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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:28 AM   0 comments links to this post

Cry No Rape

Whenever I hear anyone talk about girls and women who cry rape, I always wonder why those who are guilty yet claim they are not guilty aren't called men who cry no rape.


Instead, lying about not being a rapist is seen as no big deal. They don't even get mentioned when their claims that the DNA will exonerate them turn out to be false and the DNA evidence instead reinforces the previous judgment of their guilt. Rarely do the people who say women lie about rape mention men who make claims of being raped that turn out to be false.


Maybe these cases don't fit the desired narrative? And if it don't fit, you must omit.


Then there is the possibility that DNA evidence will be seen as proving innocence when the person convicted is guilty as charged. I've heard people actually claim that people give off enough DNA evidence that just being close enough to touch will leave detectable evidence of your DNA.


This simply isn't true, at least with the technology we have now.


In the cases where the victim survived the crime and in certain murders, there can be enough information to know what DNA could be present but which doesn't match a criminal in that case. In other cases, this information is unknown.


Blindly assuming that any DNA found among the evidence collected must belong to the real criminal is a mistake that could put a very dangerous criminal back on the street and which could send an innocent person to prison.

DNA evidence is important, but its presence or absence needs to be understood fully.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Coercion Part 2: Putting The Squeeze On Alleged Victims

With the recent exonerations of men convicted of murder and/or rape and the frequent discussions about false confessions of guilt, it's surprising that many people still assume that all retractions by alleged victims are accurate.


The pressure to press charges against those who report rape but who don't have whatever the local police consider to be credible evidence is increasing. Some people have even suggested that alleged rape victims who are viewed as deliberate liars should receive the same punishment as their alleged rapist would get if convicted.

Those who fight rape are being pressured to go along to prove that they don't support false reports of rape.


This has nothing to do with a desire for true justice. This is about scaring most victims away from reporting. Those who deny this can do their little song and dance, but the intention is reflected in the outcome of this desired change.




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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Cry Rape: The Mythology

If we believed all those who rant on about women who lie about rape and who cry rape all the time, we'd have to assume most women are evil. Certainly we'd have to assume that women are on the whole more evil than men.


It's interesting how we are supposed to accept this negative opinion about women yet we are not supposed to assume that those who want us to think this way hate women.


Such an interesting paradox. Especially when compared to what these people say about those who support the right of alleged victims to be treated with respect and to be called liars only when there is credible evidence that their claim is in fact a deliberate lie.


Ah, yes, that selective demand for credible evidence and the frequent statement that if there is no credible evidence then the person is innocent.

If it's good enough for men accused of rape, it's good enough for alleged rape victims.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

The Motherlode For Survivor Shame

The keys to making rape survivors feel ashamed are isolation, an over emphasis on virginal purity and pushing self-blame onto victims.

The backlash against those who disclose reinforces the isolation victims feel. So many times in so many ways rape survivors are told to shut up and sit down. I for one am done with that.


When purity is exalted yet "good" boys and men are excused for trying take that purity away and their lack of virginal purity doesn't taint them, something is seriously wrong.


Since rape is a choice, modesty is not a form of rape prevention. At best when used as rape prevention it's like wearing a T-shirt that says "rape her, she's asking for it."


That's rape diversion and it raises the white flag to rape and to rapists.

Because the victim's choices are not the root cause of rape the shame associated with rape should cling to rapists not to their victims.

Whenever people attempt to push the shame onto victims or survivors, we need to push it right back. We don't own it, we should stop being sent the bill.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

The Motherlode For Self-Blame

For many years I had heard that self-blame was a survivor's method of keeping some semblance of control, but I no longer think that is where most self-blame comes from.


When I went back and examined my memories of the events which led up to my first rape, I saw the places where my boyfriend planted the seeds that would later turn into my self-blame.


Many of these seeds seemed like wonderful gifts at the time. I was too beautiful to resist was just one of the statements he made which set himself up as someone with no power around me.

How very convenient for him.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Rapist In Powerful Man's Clothing

This idea that rapists are powerful is something I've seen frequently, but I don't see rapists as truly powerful people.


Destruction is easy. Hurting others is easy. Any dumb fool can find a way to hurt others.


Some rapists are clever, but cleverness isn't the same thing as truly being powerful.


The truly powerful don't need to use sex to hurt others. The truly powerful don't want to use sex to hurt others. The truly powerful don't use sex to hurt others.


The truly powerful don't blame the victims or deny the truth of what they experienced.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

The 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' lie

When some people say an alleged rapist is innocent until proven guilty they aren't simply talking about the legal presumption of guilt. They are using this phrase in a way that refers to actual guilt.

Rapists become guilty of rape when they rape, not when they are convicted of rape.

I shouldn't have to repeat this, but I do.

If a rapist takes a plea deal for a lesser crime that person is still a rapist.

I shouldn't have to repeat this, but I do.

If someone is truly innocent a conviction doesn't make that person a rapist.

Not so surprisingly those who perpetuate the "innocent until proven guilty" lie have no trouble understanding this even though it violates their mantra.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Rapists The Next Generation -- Daddy's Little Girl

I've been focusing on the most common type of rape which is committed by a boy or a man against a girl or a woman, but since rape isn't biological, committing rape/sexual assault isn't something only men do.


When it comes to teaching children to respect other people's physical and sexual boundaries we definitely need to include girls. Respect isn't gender specific and neither is disrespect.


Victim blaming doesn't just come from men and boys, it comes from girls and women. To stop this enablement of rape we need to have everyone understand what true personal responsibility means.


If girls are faced with a dangerous situation either as witnesses or as potential accomplices or if they are tempted to prove they are powerful by abusing someone else sexually, they need to have some help knowing what options there are that reduce the risk to themselves and to others.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:27 AM   0 comments links to this post

Rapists The Next Generation -- Boys

There is a real opportunity to change what boys learn to reduce the number of them who make the decision to rape.


Rape is not biological. Rape is a learned behavior. One way to help prevent new rapists is to teach boys who aren't at risk how and when to intercede safely. Another way is to teach boys what to do if they are pressured to do whatever it takes to score or to participate in a potential gang rape.


We need to be sure that rapists are not seen as people who are successful when it comes to sex.


Peer pressure is often seen as a negative, but peer pressure can be positive when it supports respectful treatment of others and when it opposes disrespectful treatment of others.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Inexcusable Excuses For Rape

Her miniskirt made him rape her is the all time classic although people don't phrase it this plainly.


The raw truth is that all excuses for rape are inexcusable. Some are just more elaborately crafted to make them seem like they aren't designed to let rapists get away with rape while rape victims just happen to take the blame.


Excusing rape is not only a terrible thing to do, it taints who you are as a person. You may tell people you are a moral person, but if you excuse certain rapes you are showing people that you are only selectively moral at best.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:30 AM   1 comments links to this post

Stopping Pro-Rapist Spin

Sometimes it seems like the more advances those who want to prevent sexual violence make, the more strident the opposing voices are. Of course those who are against the anti-rape people don't call themselves pro-rapist.


That doesn't sell, not even to rapists who mostly don't like that label.


Calling themselves opponents of false accusations, radicals and liberal elites is much more popular since they allow these people to position themselves as completely reasonable people who only want the world to be fair for everyone including men who are getting a bum rap.


One way to detect these people is to look at what cases they focus on and what cases they ignore. If they claim to be for defendant rights do they ignore defendants in cases where everyone recognizes that the alleged victim is a real victim? Do they ignore defendants who few people sympathize with even without the rape accusation?

Once you see behind the spin you can better evaluate the details of what they are trying to market or what they oppose.




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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Forgive and Enable

When it comes to rape victims and sexual abuse victims, too many people push survivors to forgive and let go. Even when this call for forgiveness has nothing to do with helping a rapist or abuser escape justice, it can enable the criminal by making it seem like the ongoing trauma survivors experience is self-inflicted.


Forgiveness is often marketed as a magical cure-all.


Can't sleep? Take a dose of forgiveness.


Can't go out alone? Take a dose of forgiveness.

Got PTSD? Take a double dose of forgiveness.


This view of forgiveness is blind to so many important issues which sometimes aren't as pretty as forgiveness seems to be but which are important elements in the survivor's recovery.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Pity The Repentant Rapist

It's interesting how often people who have no patience for those who have been hurt by rapists they know will demand that rape and abuse victims quickly forgive rapists and abusers when those people respond to exposure by quickly finding repentance.


If you do not truly understand the scope of the violation another person has experienced, you have no business urging victims to have pity on their victimizers by either forgiving them or not filing criminal charges or dropping charges that have been made.


Repentance isn't true repentance when there is a self-serving payoff involved. True repentance means being willing to shoulder the full consequences of the wrong or wrongs that have been committed without the hope that someone, such as the person hurt, will ride to the rescue. True repentance is seeing the wrong in all it's ugliness and making the commitment to do whatever it takes to never commit that wrong again and to do what you can to atone for past wrongs.


Those who are impatient with so-called unforgiving victims need to seek repentance for their own attitudes and behaviors which protect rapists and which contribute to the harm done to rape victims.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Can't You Take A Joke?

I've lost count of the number of times I've been told I have no sense of humor when I don't laugh at jokes which mock rape victims.

How many rapists does it take to change a light bulb?
One, unless the light bulb wants to be screwed. Then it can't be done.

How many rape apologists does it take to change a light bulb?
Unknown. When called into the room all the rape apologists disappeared.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:30 PM   2 comments links to this post

The Ethical Treatment of Rape Survivors And Alleged Victims

That I even have to post advocating for the ethical treatment of rape survivors and alleged victims should tell us how often these people are treated unethically. There will be those who deny this, but these people are often the very people who treat survivors unethically and/or support this sort of behavior in others.


So often you can recognize these people when they begin with something like, "Of course real rape is horrific, but ..." or "I don't mean to diminish the pain real rape victims feel, but ..."


This unethical treatment is a key contributor to rapists feeling they are no different from the general public. Some rapists aren't nearly as verbally abusive as those who later attack their victims.


From what I've seen posted on the Internet about rape survivors and alleged rape victims, I bet many rapists consider themselves to be much nicer than the general public.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Personal Interests vs. Legal Rights of Alleged Victims

The corrosive attitudes many people have really come to the foreground when the subject of victims' rights comes up.


Those who scream "Innocent until proven guilty" when talking about alleged rapists can quickly turn to issuing screams for the alleged victims to be punished. Sometimes people scream both of these at the same time without a flicker of awareness that these two contradict each other.

With these attitudes we need to look for the areas where crime victims need more explicit rights and provide the funding to support these rights.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:30 PM   0 comments links to this post

Personal interests vs. legal rights of those accused

When it comes to rape and the law many people say justice has nothing to do with the crime victim because that person is really nothing more than a witness or a piece of evidence.


Many times the rape victim and where they are available, the victim's advocates, end up trying to monitor the workings of the sometimes unreliable criminal justice system. When this happens we often get people who insist this violates the legal rights of the suspects and the defendants. This argument is very convenient considering the people who flat out say that to protect the defendant's rights the alleged victim should be put on trial and only when that alleged victim is found innocent should a jury even begin to consider finding the defendant guilty.


This desired structure perverts our justice system so that all alleged rape victims are guilty until proven innocent. This structure unfortunately is the reality in too many courtrooms and in too many police stations. This structure is also reflected in the way many people talk about rape and rape cases.


When people advocate for certain actions to ensure justice for the alleged victims in cases they aren't involved in they can be attacked with the absurd claim that they are hoping the alleged victim was raped while those who think the victim is a cold-blooded liar hope the alleged victim wasn't raped.


This sort of rationalization throws everything else these people say into question. Rather than just looking out for the legal rights of alleged rapists, they seem to looking out for the self-interests of select groups of rapists and if they help a few innocent men in the process that's okay too.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Personal Power vs. Collective Power

This is a concept that in other areas people understand. Credit unions give people collective power and through that collective power there are personal benefits such as lower interest rates on loans or higher interest rates on investments.



When it comes to sexual violence, we as individuals do have power. We can choose to be non-violent. We can choose not to associate with those who hold beliefs we think are dangerous. We can also choose to misuse our personal power.


The same is true for collective power. This power can make a positive difference or it can allow harmful behavior to proceed unchecked.


As individuals we can influence many areas of collective power. We can support organizations which do what we can't on an individual level but wish we could. We can withdraw our support from organizations which do or support what we would never do or support as individuals.


Those who harm others or support the harming of others aren't afraid to act. We need to be as proactive and as vocal as those people and those groups.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:30 PM   0 comments links to this post

Kicking Them When They Are Down

Some people do become rape victims at a rate higher than chance. Some observers blame these victims for this because they are engaged in what must be risky behavior.


Besides blaming the victim when the perpetrator should be blamed this misses a key element in how some rapists and sexual abusers operate. Many of them depend on the vulnerability that comes after abuse and rape.


Some of these people will quickly become violent but others will make themselves seem like an oasis. The first image this brings to mind will likely be a man who offers a runaway a safe place and some free booze, but this isn't the only image that should come to mind.


Rapists and sexual abusers can be clergy and they can be therapists or counselors who misuse their position of trust to exploit someone who may have few or no defenses. Some of these exploiters know where the proper boundaries are and deliberately knock them down, but others have held onto dangerous beliefs such as "it isn't wrong unless there is a threat of physical violence" which allow them to rationalize actions which are harmful.


When we individually and as a society fail those who have been raped and abused we leave them vulnerable. We need to support comprehensive education on personal boundaries so those who have been victimized before will recognize when someone is crossing a boundary and so those who cross boundaries will not be able to plead ignorance.




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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Don't Be Human Fool's Gold

So often the harm done by sexual abusers and rapists is compounded when those who are supposed to be there to protect victims instead are hostile to victims or when people who claim to be safe are anything but safe.


There are times when this happens because the victim doesn't fit that person's expectations for what a rape victim looks like or acts like. There are other times where the person who is supposed to help simply doesn't want to. It might be an investigator who decides that this is a rape that can never result in charges so why waste the time and budget of the police on a lost cause.


Or it could be someone who makes a sloppy mistake regarding evidence or the investigation which dooms the criminal case.


It would be easy to limit this to individuals who interact with rape survivors, but many times the problem is in funding and funding is driven by what citizens communicate as a high priority.


A rape kit with nowhere to be stored is likely to get lost or damaged. An investigator may do everything wrong because of a lack of proper training and not because that person is a lousy human being who shouldn't be an investigator.

Because so much of these needed actions take money, prevention is even more important. If someone isn't victimized the first time they can't be revictimized.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:30 PM   1 comments links to this post

Rapist As The Real Victim

When I first started blogging I assumed that all those who tried to transform a rapist into the real victim would deny the rape. I was wrong.


Sometimes this "rapist as victim" happens when a woman reportedly changed her mind and the man didn't let that stop him.


Sometimes it happens when a woman flirts like a red cape in front of a bull.


However it happens this rapist victimhood turns the rapist into nothing more sophisticated than a mechanical toy that has been wound up. This approach is used to demand acquittals or light sentences, but if rapists are truly unable to control themselves that supports those who believe rapists should never be paroled under any circumstances.


For those who support the red cape and bull theory, remember what happens to animals that attack humans.


Bye-bye animal.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:00 PM   1 comments links to this post

The Abuse In Wrongfully Denying Victimhood

I don't know why different people are so quick to deny real rape and sexual abuse victims the label of real victim, but I do know that this denial is abusive.

Of course those who do this will deny it since they don't consider real victims to actually be real victims.

Sometimes this denial comes in a superior tone or manner where someone claims to be objective. Other times it comes in a caring tone where someone claims to be sympathetic. Other times it comes in an academic tone where someone claims to be more knowledgable. Other times it comes from a painful tone where someone claims to have been helped by letting go of victimhood.

No matter the tone or the claim, what the victim believes and what the victim experienced are less important than what the person doing the denying believes and what they experienced.

In many ways this mirrors what rapists and sexual abusers do. What their victim believed and wanted was less important than what the rapist or sexual abuser wanted. Because of this people who deny victims will often get called rape apologists or potential rapists.

Many who get this backlash use that backlash as an excuse to further undermine those they deny.

I've even seen someone decide that a self-identified rape survivor must be a liar because of that survivor's politics. That's not only abusive, it makes the person who made that statement look like a total jerk and a not very smart one at that.

If those who get a backlash after denying someone the label of victim would set their ego aside, they might realize that what they are doing is presumptious and wrong.

Then they might learn from their mistakes to everyone's benefit.

But denial is easier.


Hey, I'm almost to the halfway mark. Send money to Stop It Now! if you haven't already made a pledge and keep me going for the rest of the 24 hours. If you wish I'd shut up about this topic, remember that the more sex crimes which are prevented means that I'll have less to write about.

Help put childhood sexual abuse on the endangered species list.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:30 PM   1 comments links to this post

The Power of Rightfully Claiming Victimhood

So many people too quickly say, "Don't be a victim" because they don't want to deal with the issues that arise if the person they are saying this to is acknowledged as a real crime victim.


One of the issues I dealt with for years when I didn't accept being a real victim was a sense that I was crazy. Accepting the full truth about what happened to me, including actions I wish I hadn't taken, put some of the missing pieces of the puzzle where I could see them. What had seemed like a hopelessly jumbled mess began to make sense.


My irrationality was quite rational. I had just buried many of the puzzle pieces. Once I had those first missing pieces within reach I could more easily find other missing pieces or make sense of the ones I'd always been able to see.

Denying my victimhood was denying an important truth and it [accepting that truth] has made me stronger rather than weaker. Before people's harsh words could easily hurt me. Now I recognize people who are in denial or who perpetuate dangerous beliefs that demand denial even if I don't know their reasons.

Most importantly, rightfully claiming victimhood has allowed me to break this secret which protects the wrongdoing of others. Breaking this secret might also help others break their secrets even if it is only safe for them to reveal the truth to themselves.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Denial: She's Contractually Obligated

This rape denial is interesting in that it lumps wives in with prostitutes. For many people there is a belief that she can never say no and if she does say no and gets raped, she is asking for it.


It's also interesting that when wives and prostitutes (whether they take on this role willingly or not) are raped and murdered by a husband or a John respectively, many people shrug or don't even notice unless the wife is pregnant and nearly full term. Then it seems like everyone in the nation is suddenly horrified.

Where or where did this kind of violence come from? they ask.

Then they get another shock when they learn that murder is either the leading cause of death during pregnancy or one of the leading causes.


I can't remember hearing about any murders where the victim is described as a prostitute and where it's been revealed that the girl or woman was pregnant. I don't know if it's never happened or if pregnancy doesn't have the same meaning when the victim is viewed in this manner.


I don't care what legal agreements have been signed or whether money has changed hands, rape is still wrong. We cannot afford to have it be otherwise.

If anyone you know says who cares if a prostitute is murdered. Be very careful of your safety because that is someone who views some individuals as expendable and you may not know who else is on their list until it is too late.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:30 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Denial: He Said, She Said

This myth is a popular one that magically disappears when it is convenient such as in the case of the Liberian immigrant who had sex abuse charges dropped because the court couldn't find an acceptable translater in a timely manner.


Based on very little information, many people just know he's guilty and they know it could be proven in court if the judge had any sense at all.


I wonder how many of those people would stop knowing this if he were a star professional athlete facing the exact same charges with the exact same evidence. How many would again believe in "He said, she said"?



This rape denial myth comes and goes so easily that it gives me whiplash.

Respected businessman -- "He said, she said."

Homeless man -- "Guilty!"

And so it goes far too often.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Get Over It Already

These are words that are very familiar to rape survivors who have disclosed their rapes and which are likely nearly as familiar to rape survivors who haven't disclosed.


I could spend hours explaining why this is so damaging and why this is so wrong when directed at victims of sexual violence. But today I don't have hours to put my thoughts together on this one area.


I do have time for this:


These are words I want to send right back to everyone who makes excuses for rape or who says some rape victims were asking for it or who says that some rape victims aren't real victims or who says that some rapists aren't real rapists.

Get over it already.

If you won't be part of the solution, get out of the way.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:30 PM   0 comments links to this post

Anti-Rape Equal Anti-Man?

Those who say that my being anti-rape makes me anti-man are the one's who are attempting to turn all men into the same as rapists.

Rapists love to do this because most of them want to convince themselves and others that they are no worse than the average man. This hurts the men who have never and will never rape anyone and who don't approve of rape in any way. It hurts them by making people suspicious of them and it hurts them because the rapists want to instill paranoia in the non-rapist men.

"I was falsely accused and it could just as easily happen to you if you don't help me fight these nasty anti-rape activists."

This equating my opposition to rape into an opposition to men is a way to try to deny the truth of what I've experienced and the truth of what I've seen and heard during the 9 years I answered my local rape crisis line. This included going to the local hospital as survivors endured the long process of getting a rape kit done and going with people to law enforcement as they reported.

For some people who have labeled me a lesbian man hater (I'm 100% straight) they seem to do so to explain why I found what I call rape traumatic. To them if I was truly straight I would have been moaning in delight. This is the ultimate in rape denial. It makes me wonder how many male rapists try to con themselves into believing that any woman who didn't enjoy being raped by him has to be a lesbian.

To the men who insult me and say I deserve to be raped again, my opinion of you isn't based on your gender, it is based what you reveal about your character through your words.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:01 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Denial: Bad Girls Can't Be Raped

This myth is one that I bumped into before I was raped. But it was worded differently. Basically there were the nice girls the boys couldn't have sex with before marriage and then their were the easy girls who didn't care who they had sex with. The nice boys were allowed to try to do their best to turn nice girls into easy girls.

This was such a crock.

Being a nice girl didn't protect me and then being one of those "easy" girls (not a virgin) made it even harder for me to enforce my "No" since it was given even less weight than it had before.

During my third rape and third penetration, this time while completely drunk, I remember my shock that I wasn't in painful agony. Until just now I never labeled that interaction as rape even though I didn't want to have sex and he took it anyway. It didn't hurt this time, neither did it feel good, so it couldn't have been the same type of violation.

But that interaction is the moment where I felt like I was a lost cause and had officially become easy. I needed the booze even more after that. And since girls who drink booze are bad, I was fair game.

None of those who carelessly exploited me likely see themselves as rapists.

By the time fall came around and I entered high school I was a different girl. I wasn't just a bad girl, I was a tough one. Other girls might want to date boys with the hot cars, I decided to skip the boys and get myself the car I wanted. It turned out to be a semi-reliable 1968 Camaro 327.

The chip on my shoulder must have been larger than both boots combined.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:30 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Denial: Nice Boys Don't Rape

Until I was raped the first time I believed most of the stereotypes about rapists. The one notable exception is that I didn't know anything about the stereotype that all or most real rapists were black. This exception was probably due to the fact that in the closest unsolved serial rapist case to where I lived the suspect was white. I also owe this to the attitudes within my family.

Until I was raped I had never heard anyone talk about the possibility that boyfriends can rape their girlfriends and I didn't hear it for years as anything other than a radical claim by those nasty feminists. There were plenty of people who refuted those feminists' claims and who said that nice boys don't rape they just give bad sex. Because the subject was so painful I tried to avoid the subject whenever I could. And I continued to feel completely alone.

I knew force was used by my boyfriend, but I'm not sure I immediately labeled him as a rapist. I certainly didn't label him as someone who plotted against me even though when I finally went back through the events which led up to rape and tried to capture the dynamics on paper, all the signs of premeditation were there. At first I felt stupid, but then I realized that the rape made every preceding interaction seem more obviously sinister than it was. When you know how the story ends you spot all the clues to the big finish.

Until I was raped I believed all rapists were obvious monsters whose intentions would be known immediately. But I quickly learned to distrust those who demanded my trust or my compliance.

When I was using alcohol to numb the pain I felt after being raped the scruffiest men I encountered rarely were a source of serious physical danger.

The 2 men who I talked about earlier in the blogathon were nice clean-cut college students with a nice car. They were the winners while those I regularly hung out with were the losers and the drifters. To these nice young college boys I was a piece of garbage to be used and discarded.

So I know firsthand that the myth that nice boys don't rape is false. And when people try to disprove a rape claim by talking about the alleged rapist's volunteer record or how they help find homes for abandoned puppies, I know that proving "niceness" doesn't disprove rape.

If general niceness is the alleged rapist's only defense then that person is going to seem more suspect than he did when I didn't know he was such a "nice" man.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:00 PM   5 comments links to this post

Rape Denial: Law of Supply And Demand

The first problem with any talk of supply (women willing to let men have sex with them) and demand (men wanting to have sex) related to rape is that it figurately detaches women from their bodies.

The second problem is that it turns sex into something that is as necessary as air and water. I haven't seen a single person who used this analogy who also talked about this demand in terms of repopulating the earth. Usually this analogy is used in relation to one-night stands. Raping a woman becomes the equivilent of looting for food and water during a flood. Very handy for those who want to be able to take the girl or woman they want, willing or not.

Men go to bars filled with men and then complain that there aren't enough women. Go figure.

For those who use this analogy, sex is a male need but not such a need that men should actually get to know women and have real respectful relationships with them. Nope, for these men, women you have sex with are nothing more than a commodity.

No wonder with that attitude that these men face a shortage of willing women.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:30 PM   1 comments links to this post

Now That Didn't Really Hurt You Did It?

There is a myth that there is such a thing as a non-harmful rape. Some of those who support this myth often will say that raping a woman in her sleep doesn't harm her. Others will say that raping certain women doesn't harm them because they have sex all the time.

Sometimes this is reworked to say that if there is no trauma there is no rape, but the person making the statement gets to be arbitor of what is and isn't traumatic -- often on the sketchiest of details.

Different rapes do have different types and levels of trauma. The rape that has the most traumatic memories is my first rape. But being raped when I was drinking and determined to show that sexual contact was absolutely meaningless was still rape. To use the vernacular I've heard to excuse later rapes, I was what people call sexually mature.

There were times when I was fully willing yet sexually passive (whatever) and 2 times (same guy) before I was 18 when I was willing and enthusiastic. People often say asking for explicit permission is unromantic, but I disagree. There is nothing more romantic to me than someone who cares enough about me to stop and not do what he wants to do. One man will always have a special place in my heart for showing me that not all men are users or rapists and that sex isn't always either painful or meaningless.

In any of the so-called Romeo and Juliet exceptions to statutory rape laws, explicit permission should be present with absolutely no coercion or pressure. Age difference alone is not a measure of whether the sexual contact was predatory and it isn't a sign that the adult is or is not a sexual predator.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

If You Love Me Say It With Flowers Not Rape

For many years I thought I was the only one who looked at her rapist (also my boyfriend at the time) in stunned belief and was told that what just happened was his way of showing his love for me. It wasn't until I'd captured my experience in a book that another woman told me she'd been given the same excuse.

I managed to block the memory behind emotional barbed wire, but that left me with an irrational response to any and all declarations of love. Being afraid that my life would end before I reached my 16th birthday as I sprinted away from a couple of nice young men who turned out to be intent on violently raping the willing was nothing compared to hearing a guy say, "I love you."

Hiding under a cluster of shrubs with my heart racing in fear that any second one of those men calling out to me would hear my breathing and drag me out was nothing compared to hearing a guy play a love song and say that's how he felt about me.

Waiting in agony until those 2 "nice" men gave up and drove away and then waiting longer in case they only left long enough to lure me out and then running from hiding place to hiding place, stopping at each intersection to be sure they weren't cruising the streets looking for me was nothing compared to the pain of being lectured on proper behavior by my rapist who still loved me.

Those 3 words still have a power they were never meant to have.

If you use those words, use them responsibly. Don't ever use them to excuse rape even if you aren't the rapist. True love never drives a person to commit rape.

Never.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:30 PM   1 comments links to this post

Rape As Ego Fix

There is lots of debate about why people rape. Some say it's all about power and control. Some say rapists are just hornier than the rest of us. Some say men who rape hate women.

For some rapists, especially those who use coercion, the benefit of rape seems to have nothing to do with an intention to destroy their victims. Instead, their intention has to do with elevating themselves into some magical Pied Piper of sex.

So often people perceive rapists as sexually advanced when in many ways they are sexually stunted and incapable of a truly mutual and healthy sexual relationship. When someone is your equal they aren't going to worship you and may even tell you when you don't please them.

But if someone looks up to you with absolute trust, the ego -- if you have the thought patterns of a rapist -- can get a kick out of seeing what that trust can lead to. Any harm to the other person is rationalized away. This is often done by invoking "personal responsibility." This rationalization which puts the personal responsibility for rape on the victim is planted very carefully by the rapist.

The rapist may do more than just praise the target's looks, but may talk about how alluring the target is and how powerful that allure is. The words, "Too beautiful to resist" are dangerous words.

These rapists are deliberately conning themselves as they manipulate their victims into compliance or into silence. This manipulation often leaves victims feeling crazy when what is being done and said to them is what's really crazy.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:00 PM   0 comments links to this post

Try, Try, Try Again Not Always

So often in so many areas persistance is a wonderful habit. It helps us master the alphabet. It helps us learn to ride a bike or drive a car. It gets us through difficult classes. It gets us through periods of unemployment.

But when it comes to relationships there can be a fine line between persistance and harassment, stalking and relationship violence.

The key mistake is treating another human being like an object to be mastered. A bike might not care how many times you crash it, but human beings care when they walk out of their work place and see you waiting, determined to make the relationship work.

When people are doing everything they can think of to learn how to golf, we can understand them flinging the clubs to the ground or into the nearest water hazard. But frustration is no excuse for throwing someone you want in your life around.

These acts are not only wrong, they often destroy what the person doing them wants to achieve. As I learned as a child when my pet beagle got loose, she'd keep running as long as I chased her. Only when I stopped running frantically would she stop running away and come trotting home. To her the chasing was a fun game, but it taught me important lessons.

One, it's important to understand the situation from others perspectives. Two, it's important to respect others for who or what they are. Three, sometimes stubborn persistance is just stupid.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:29 PM   0 comments links to this post

Legal And Enthusiastic Or Busted

I can't remember where I saw a man asking how to tell if a drunk woman was conscious enough to consent to sex, but the implications of that question have stuck with me.

We see the implications of this question when there is a videotape of an alleged rape where the alleged victim is inert but who makes undistinguishable noises. These noises are often seen by the jury as signs of consent or signs of reasonable doubt.

Maybe the alleged victim is only playing possum.

At it's most extreme some people seem to refuse to believe what they see unless there were signs of rigormortis. The problem is that they are looking for proof that the alleged victim explicitly said don't have sex with me when I am suffering from acute alcohol poisoning.

What this man's question told me is that there is a serious need for sex education that gets into topics that make people squirm. Sex education that says only "wait until you are married" leaves those who don't want to wait to be educated by whoever seems successful at sex.

But understanding how to respect others when they are vulnerable goes far beyond sex education. Learning how to navigate a relationship so nobody is harmed goes far beyond sex education.

Learning how to get what we want legally and so all those involved are just as enthusiastic is vitally important. So too is learning that sometimes we don't have the right to get what we want. There is a great power in being able to walk away when we'd rather grab what we want and what we believe we can get away with.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:00 PM   1 comments links to this post

You Say Persuasion I Say Coercion

An area of sexual violence that many people have a terrible time grasping is coercion that doesn't involve undeniable threats of physical violence.

This difficulty is one of the reasons coercion is so powerful. Just as people who hear about rape through coercion have a tough time understanding it, those who are targeted by those willing to use coercion as a weapon can have a tough time understanding that they are a target. Many times these are the nicest rapists.

I can't remember who said, "Give me a lever and I can move the world" in relation to mechanical engineering, but this idea also holds true when it comes to people. This has been studied though often not identified as such.

False confessions come out of coercion and the misuse of leverage. There has been at least one study that found that when the other planted study participants all gave the same wrong answer (including which line was the longest) that the real study participants were likely to question their own perception and then to actually believe that the wrong answer was the right one.

Those who use coercion as a sexualized weapon often try to take this power of leverage and combine it with others' best attributes such as trust and love and use those against the other person.

We make a critical mistake when we call these victims stupid or say they lack good judgment or say that they changed their minds but want to escape personal responsibility. This mistake comes from people wanting to believe that they could never be coerced with anything less than threat of death. This denial puts people at greater danger.

Think of the con man who steals your money by promising you a great investment or a new roof or a bathroom remodel. You were robbed -- deliberately -- but the criminal laws may not protect you since no one held a gun to your head as you wrote out that check.

But at least you aren't considered to be someone making a false accusation when you tell people you were robbed.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:30 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape By Any Other Name Is Just As Bitter

When people give rape a victimless name they are showing their approval for certain types of rapes.

Drunk sex sends the message that raping someone who is drunk (or who the rapist claims is drunk) harms nobody but the rapist if and when he gets caught.

Surprise sex sends the message that striking before the intended rape victim has a chance to say no harms nobody and that this practice should be legal.

Opportunistic sex sends the message that raping someone who is asleep or unconscious harms nobody when in reality the rapist has committed a physical crime and robbed that person of the ability to relax in sleep.

Semi-consensual sex sends the message that rapists can target as victims people who they know don't want to have sex with them -- even strangers -- and if the person does anything that could be mistaken for consent, like comply to the rapist's demands, then they are being falsely accused if they are caught.

Misunderstanding related to consent sends the message that unless the rape victim shoots you, that person has not expressed their non-consent clearly enough.

Not a real rape sends the message that rape is fine and dandy as long as the rapist doesn't violate some ick-factor or doesn't pick the wrong victim or the rapist isn't considered scum. Raping a 91 year old women is real rape. Raping your 15 year old girlfriend is not real rape -- unless you are an illegal immigrant then it is real rape.

Rape prevention does not mean simply preventing the use of that word to describe sexual violence. Rape prevention means preventing all forms of sexual violence no matter how sweet the name that's been assigned to the act.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 PM   0 comments links to this post

Muffling The Echo Of Rape

The worst way to muffle the echo of rape is death. With this in mind, please consider the positive side to what people think of as being negative coping methods. Self-medication. Disassociation. Repression. Denial. Misdirected anger.

These aren't the best tools, but sometimes they are the best tools available to those trying to survive. If a rape survivor is awash in alcohol, lecturing that person about the dangers of heavy drinking are going to be ineffective at best. At worst, it will add more weight to the survivor's burden. Maybe too much weight for the survivor to bear.

Rather than trying to yank these things away from survivors, try to give them something better to help them cope and to help them survive while being aware of dangers the survivor might not be able to see.

I was sexually violated when the alcohol made me immune to past and present violations. When I didn't care enough what someone did to my body, I was given one of the HPV viruses which later led to surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells from my cervix. I was in cars with people driving drunk. I drove drunk. I went hitchhiking during the time that Ted Bundy was raping and murdering girls and women in my home state despite warnings about the dangers because nobody was going to control me ever again.

I almost died from alcohol poisoning about a year after my first rape, but a lecture on drinking from my rapist a few months after he raped me just drove me faster toward the solice of drunkness.

There was one person who could have silenced that echo. My rapist. He could have silenced the echo by not forcing himself on me.

So let's all do what we can to muffle the echo through effective prevention.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

The good old days -- for rapists

So often I hear people lamenting the good old days before rape and sexual abuse became so common and permeated the news.

The problem with this lament is that the good old days weren't so much better except for the majority of rapists and sexual abusers. The rape laws were by and large designed with the intent to protect so-called good men from being prosecuted for harming the women and children around them. Yet at the same time there were more laws restricting who could have fully consensual sexual contact and what parts were to be used where. What we might call ick-factor laws. Infidelity laws showed the self-interest of the law makers when the punishments for the wives who cheated was different and more severe than the punishment for husbands who cheated.

So while there was an official higher level of morality, there was an overt acceptance of immorality. Rape of a spouse was a family matter which meant that everyone else was supposed to ignore it. We see that in the old laws which explicitly exempted maritial rape from the rape laws. In some jurisdictions raping your spouse is still legal and often viewed as acceptable because spouses gave blanket and irrevokable consent when they signed the marriage certificate.

Think about what these "good" old days did to the victims of sexual violence. Only those radical feminists who are still being scorned today -- often by people who call themselves feminists -- dared talk about sexual violence committed by those who didn't lunge at joggers or kill their rape victims. Others who didn't talk about sexual violence often continue to scorn those people for not being inclusive enough. But people can't expose what they don't know is happening. It was the so-called rape-crisis feminists who first dared to speak the unspeakable.

Without them I'd still be locked in my silent torment. So in a way I guess there was some good in those good old days.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:00 AM   1 comments links to this post

Swiftboating Rape Survivors And Alleged Victims

Smear campaigns are not limited to politics and while political smear campaigns may ruin a good candidate's chances of being elected, this practice that so many people view as business as usual can do much greater damage when it is directed at rape survivors.

The swiftboaters likely justify their post-crime attacks in the same way that sexual abusers and rapists justify their crimes. The victim deserves to be humiliated and the attacker deserves to be viewed as a hero for the cause.

Many of the men's rights groups seem like their main purpose is to swiftboat women who speak out against violence against women. From these people we get the "women lie about rape" mantra which ignores all the rapists who are lying when they say they are innocent and deliberately overstates the percentage of false rape reports.

This swiftboating is evident whenever people try to shut an investigation down before it starts.

Ironically, swiftboating undermines the credibility of those who are falsely accused and it undermines the trust people have that the legal system will get it right when a defendant has the charges dropped or a jury finds the defendant not guilty.

This means that the swiftboaters have a direct hand in the ruining of lives when innocent people are charged with a sex crime.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:30 AM   1 comments links to this post

Rape Survivor Entitlement

Rape survivors deserve certain entitlements. They deserve to have their reports taken seriously even if the details of what they report seem too outlandishly evil to be true or if the survivor seems emotionally imbalanced or if the purported rapist seems too nice to ever do something like that.

Many times rape survivors aren't believed or seen as credible because of the symptoms of the trauma of being raped. We more easily understand this when someone has obvious physical trauma. Incoherency is expected from a survivor being questioned as they are being prepped for emergency surgery. We expect anger from a stabbing victim who gave a mugger everything asked for.

The overused and under thought out phrase "innocent until proven guilty" is often used as an excuse to give rapists full entitlement and to treat rape victims harshly until they prove to us beyond a reasonable doubt that every detail is true down to their estimate of the exact time of the crime and the exact duration of the crime. This usage shows a clear misunderstanding of our legal system and what it really means to live in a society where you can be deemed by the government to be guilty until proven innocent.

This failure to entitle rape survivors shows sloppiness and a so-what attitude about what these people have survived. It doesn't in any way uphold our constitution or the due process of defendants.

An entitlement that rape survivors don't deserve is the right to pass on what's been done to them. Sexual molestation isn't fixed by molesting someone younger or more vulnerable. It isn't fixed by physically assaulting others or seeking revenge on anyone who seems similar to the person or people who committed rape or sexual molestation. The best way to block this entitlement isn't through lectures or saying "who cares" when a convicted sex offender reveals a history of abuse, the best way is to provide resources for those who have been hurt so they can get that poison safely out.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

No Rape Victim Left Behind

While I spend most of my effort on sexual violence committed by boys and men against girls and women since that is what I experienced and because that is what happens most often and what is often seen as acceptable ("Hah, date rape is nothing more than morning after regret") I want to mention that sexual violence is always unacceptable.

Nobody deserves rape. Not those who rape. Not those who make excuses for rapists. Not those who are seen as asking to be raped.

I think of sexual violence as an epidemic that must be fought the same way public health officials fought polio. If anyone gets polio it puts all of us at greater risk. The only difference is that with sexual violence is that people pass on this affliction through their choices. Sexual violence is a disease of the mind and of the heart. It isn't a disease of the sex organs.

Sometimes those carrying dangerous diseases must be locked up, but that is the least effective solution. More effective is for those who have rape-friendly thought patterns be inoculated by exposure to thought patterns which make rape a non-option even if the person has the opportunity to commit the "perfect" sex crime.

Every act of sexual violence eats away at the mind and heart of the person who commits that act of violence. The poison hurts others, but it leaches through the fingertips of the person inflicting that poison.

The best way to not leave any rape victim behind is to work to prevent all forms of sexual violence and to not have any victim or alleged victim where people say, "Who cares if that vile creature is raped?"

We should all care. If we don't then part of the problem is within us because we are letting the disease spread and diseases rarely limit themselves to those who seem to deserve a little more suffering.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Requim For Those Who Didn't Survive

As the recent case in Connecticut so horrifically reminds us not all those who are raped survive the immediate attack. Less thought about are those who physically survive the rape or rapes but who don't survive the aftermath.

Of those who don't survive the aftermath, there can be a temptation by observers to call these rape victims weak. Resist this temptation.

A huge part of the problem is the way people routinely talk about and to those who have been raped. The level of denial many people cling to can be as damaging to survivors as a physical assault. Sometimes it is more damaging.

Those who blame rape victims are responsible for the harm their blaming does to survivors. If a rape survivor goes back to school and finds that the rapist is being held up as a tragic hero falsely accused while she (or he) is painted as evil, that has a huge impact.

Those who mistreated any victim all share some of the blame if the victim can't endure this secondary assault. The way to honor those who haven't survived is to not be part of the problem and to not stand by silently as others are part of the problem.

The solution is to support full investigations of all reports. If you believe someone who's been accused of rape is incapable of rape then support an investigation which will, if you are right, find no credible evidence. Full, ethical investigations benefit all those who are innocent.

Snap judgments that demand that the investigation and the public turn on the alleged victim will contribute to the loss of more victims.

Our greatest requim for those who died is to do better at preventing rape and to do better at responding to rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

The Power Of Surviving Rape

So many people tell rape survivors to "just get over it already" which tells me they don't have a clue about the range of trauma those who have been raped have experienced or what it truly means to survive rape. This in turn leads to apathy regarding those who commit all but the most horrific rapes. If a rape is non-traumatic then the rapist isn't a real or serious criminal.

For some rape survivors the trauma of a specific event isn't huge. This can happen when someone with a history of childhood sexual abuse is raped by a friend. That rape can feel like it is "par for the course" of life. This numbness helps that survivor cope with unrelenting violation, but the numbness doesn't nullify the wrongness of the rape.

The power of surviving rape comes in small and large doses. Sometimes the power of surviving rape comes in the anger at those who treat most rapes as a joke. Sometimes the power of surviving rape is just getting through another day as the memories pelt down like golf ball sized hail. Sometimes the power of surviving rape comes through suppressing the memories of rape so the survivor can function when they would otherwise be swamped like a rowboat in the ocean.

The power of surviving rape isn't in surviving perfectly. It is in surviving at all. The biggest question for those who haven't been raped is will you be someone who helps or will you be someone who blocks rape survivors or will you be someone who exploits what they've been through?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:30 AM   2 comments links to this post

Blogathon Kickoff

The blogathon begins this morning at 8 am central time and runs 24 hours until Sunday morning at 8 am. All participating blogs will have a new post every half hour. The purpose of the blogathon is to raise money for a variety of good causes with each blog selecting one charity to support.

Since my greatest wish is that all sexual violence be eradicated by preventing offenders from making the choice to hurt someone else, I have selected to support Stop It Now!

Here's just a little information about them:

They have a helpline in the US 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) where adults who are concerned about their own or others sexualized behavior toward children can speak confidentially.

They have publications on this complex and challenging subject.

They have community based programs which include collaborations with state child abuse prevention programs.

They take a public health approach to the problem of child sexual abuse to create the conditions where healthy behaviors can flourish.

That brings me to my theme for the blogathon which is the inspiration for my blog title: From abyss to hope. Many people are pessimistic about the problem of sexual violence or attempt to call people like me man-haters since the majority of those who commit sexual crimes are boys and men.

I'm optimistic and I like people on the whole including men. When I call people on their behavior or their attitudes in relation to sexual violence they can choose the easy response which is to quickly throw a negative label on me or they can really listen.

The positive side of people's harmful attitudes is that attitudes can be adjusted either because the individual doesn't want to contribute to this huge problem or because the individual finds little or no support from those around them for harmful attitudes like victim blaming.

Changing the way people act sexually begins with changing the way people think about sexual contact. Those who demand that we all take personal responsibility for sex must take full personal responsibility for their actions and their words related to sex and sexual violence. If they attack rape survivors they must take personal responsibility for hurting those rape survivors. They must take personal responsibility for making rapists feel like they have thousands if not millions of people who think just like them.

Disclaimer: my focus will be on the most common and most socially acceptable incidents of rape and on the structures and thought patterns which keeps so many rapists on the streets. When I talk about rape victims I will often use a feminine pronoun and when I talk about rapists I will often use a masculine pronoun.

If you wish to widen the scope in some way whether it is male victims or female offenders or something else, don't complain about what I'm not talking about, expand the conversation by taking the issues I raise as a starting point for a post or posts on your blog.

Links to me are welcome and require no prior permission even if you plan to disagree with what I've written.

Please sponsor my participation in the blogathon with a small or large donation to help raise money for the organization Stop It Now!

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:59 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, July 27, 2007

Time Magazine Gets It Wrong About Rape

The problems in this Time article are all the more glaring since the article is focused on the argument by the judge, prosecution, defense attorney and alleged victim about the power of semantics to distort reality and to inflame those who hear certain words in conjunction with an alleged crime.

The story goes back to Oct. 30, 2004, when Tory Bowen, then a 21-year-old student at the University of Nebraska, met Pamir Safi, an Army reservist, at a downtown Lincoln bar. After sharing drinks, they left the bar together, went back to Safi's apartment and engaged in sexual intercourse. Bowen says she was too drunk — and, she believes, drugged — to consent to sex. Safi says their encounter was consensual.

Because the issue at stake was one of consent, not assault, the words that Bowen and Safi chose in court to describe the incident were particularly fraught.

This snippet of the Time article illustrates the classic mistakes people make when describing an alleged rape in a so-called unbiased way. The biggest goof here is the statement that the case has nothing to do with assault. On the contrary, the case has everything to do with assault. The only way to miss this is to accept the narrative of what happened provided by the defense attorney.

This narrative is a popular one and for many people it is as familiar as the story of Romeo and Juliet which gets invoked whenever anyone wants to soften statutory rape laws. Never mind that Romeo and Juliet is a work of fiction.

In this case the alleged assault comes through incapacitation. If you knock someone out or impair their reasoning skills and motor skills using a chemical substance, that is a form of assault even if those who witness the initial assault (victim sipping a drink spiked with drugs or high octane booze) don't recognize the assault for what it is.

Many rapists choose this method of assault because it is covert. They can hide in plain sight and they can count on many non-rapists to call their victims liars or delusional. Most of the time when their victims report their rapes, they will never be charged and when they are charged most of the time they won't be convicted or they will be convicted of more minor crimes.

Very rarely are these types of rapists caught in the act of spiking a drink.

The Time article sets forth that these items as undisputed: They met. They shared drinks. They left the bar together. They went to his apartment. They engaged in sexual intercourse.

In light of the allegations, these items are clearly misleading because they make mutuality a done deal from the beginning until the sexual contact ended. There is no mention that she vomitted in the man's car which indicates she was violently ill in the midst of all this "mutuality."

But that fact disrupts the flow of the "they" narrative. Once that happens we can begin to wonder if he pulled an ill and semi-conscious women from his car into his apartment or if he lifted an unconscous woman from his car, carried her inside, and used her like a sex toy until she inconveniently came to and started protesting.

If people pay attention to the allegations of this case they will see that the alleged victim isn't claiming that she was given drugs so she would consent to sex. She is claiming that she believes she was drugged so she couldn't provide non-consent and so she couldn't stop him from using her body -- in other words she couldn't stop him from raping her. Those two claims are diametrically different in ways that are not merely semantic.

This alleged victim is not looking to have her consent nullified, she wants her absolute non-consent recognized.

The defense attorney knows this which is why he doesn't want her to be able to blast any holes in the narrative he is supporting.

Once that word ["rape"] is uttered [by the alleged victim], [defense attorney] Mock says, "the skunk is in the jury box and it's hard to get the smell out." (words in square brackets added by me for emphasis)

Yes, it is hard to get the smell out once the alleged victim makes it clear that she isn't trying to revoke consent she gave while drunk. But if the stink is caused by the truth of what the alleged victim experienced then should the raw, ugly truth in the plainest language be banned from all criminal trials?

If this ruling holds for alleged rape victims, then it must be reflected in all trials involving all sorts of crimes. Any words by crime victims that imply criminal behavior must be banned.

Is the truth of someone's experience expressed in the rawest form unfairly prejudicial? Or is it fairly prejudicial? The Nebraska law the judge is using to back his ruling says that "evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed" by the prejudicial nature of the evidence.

The key word here is not "prejudicial" it is "outweighed."

A jury hearing that the alleged victim woke up and instantly knew she was being raped is an important factor in determining whether there is proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury knows this is her personal assessment and they deserve to hear it in it's rawest form.

In essence the very allegation at it's most specific has been banned while the defense's counter-narrative is allowed to permeate the whole case as if it were already proven. The defense attorney has already agreed that words have power to change people's understanding of what really happened so his motive and agenda are clear. He fought a ban on words that implied mutuality so any claims that he wants no prejudicial language allowed in the trial is a false claim.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:58 PM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blogathon Update For Those Who Can't Login To Pledge

Blogathon logoIf you tried to make a pledge but couldn't login for whatever reason, you can donate directly to Stop It Now! (please let them know you are donating to support my participation in the blogathon) and let me know how much you donated in a comment and I can add that amount on the blogathon site.

There are less than 2 days to go until I start a very long day for a very good cause. This will be my first solo effort so it may produce some interesting posts before the 24 hours is over.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:44 PM   0 comments links to this post