Thursday, January 31, 2008

Students In UK Found Guilty of Drunk Girl’s Rape

From the Bournemouth Echo:

A RAPIST smashed his head against a glass screen and shouted "Kill me, kill me now!" after hearing a jury's verdict. Xiangwei Li was one of two Chinese students convicted of raping an 18-year-old Chinese student after a drinking game.

When they decided to have sex with a woman who passed out, these rapists played the odds and in their first trial, they seemed to come out the winners, but now their decision to commit acts of sexual violence on a woman didn't have the same outcome in this retrial.

They may feel their fate is unfair since so many other similar rapists get away with rape. What is unfair are all the rapists like them who get away with rape. From the story it seems that the suffering of their victim doesn't enter their minds even now. It's still only about them. Now they will have to tell their families.

This total selfishness is one of the reasons punishment of rapists matters when it comes to rape prevention. Some rapists will only refrain from rape out of self-interest.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:51 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Behind The Complaints About Uppity And Passive Women

When I wrote my post Behind the complaint about victims not avoiding danger there were other complaints I wanted to address so here's the next in the series.

I put these 2 classifications for women together -- even though the complainers seem to want opposite things from women -- because these 2 complaints are often used strategically to box women in so that no matter what they do they can be deemed to be wrong.

The only way for women to succeed in this environment is to refuse to fall into the trap laid by the complainers.

Many people have noted this phenomenon in the harsh analysis of Hillary Clinton's run for US president. Often the same actions on her part or by someone campaigning for her will find one "analyst" declaring her to be an uppity woman while another states that this action proves her to be too passive of a woman to be president. These views tell me more about the analyst's views of Hillary and women in general than they do about Ms. Clinton or her campaign.

When these analysts ask if the US is ready for a woman president, they are really asking if the public is ready to view a woman in a mature way rather than through their stereotypes and the cubbyholes they want women to fall into. If someone isn't ready for a woman president, the lack is not in the candidate but in the citizen. They are admitting that they cannot cope with the conflict between how they look at women and how they look at US presidents. For them the cogitative dissonance is simply too great. Too keep from admitting this these people have to find fault with any woman running for president or any woman who is on a career path which could lead to a run for US president. Sometimes they will stretch this to the point of saying that no US man is ready for the humiliation of being first husband. It's telling that an honored position -- for a woman -- is considered a humiliation for a man.

If a man doesn't want to be treated the way he treats women that should tell him something that he probably doesn't want to hear.

In it's most extreme, those who are overt abusers of women will use these 2 contrasting labels so that no matter what the woman in their life does, her independant actions can be labeled as wrong. The screaming abuser might apologize for yelling, but rarely apologizes for the controlling intent that lies just below the yelling. Abusive men who claim to want husbands and wives to stick to their assigned gender roles will brazenly invade the woman's role by dictating details about the kitchen because what the woman is doing is wrong. Despite all their talk there is no traditional division of labor. The abused wife doesn't get to control her kitchen even though it is her responsibility. The abuser will tell the wife to butt out about what he considers his marital duties, but she'd better not tell him to do the same about her marital duties.

When people look at this abuse as an anger problem, they will miss the point of the anger -- to gain the upper hand in all ways. The intelligent woman must be brought to her knees and then she must be attacked for not standing strong. This abuse is a deliberately no-win situation for the woman.

The insecure man needs to know that his wife who could have chosen a better man will be so disoriented and demeaned that she feels grateful that he puts up with her. Dealing with his own insecurity is too much work.

The fatal flaw in this strategy is that abuse never allows for a truly harmonious relationship. This failure must somehow become the abused person's fault.

The biggest mistake is to accept the attacks on uppity women and passive women at face value. Those who launch these attacks are, by the nature of the attacks themselves, admitting that they are inferior -- or feel that way -- to the one being attacked.

Those who truly have confidence in themselves don't need to be demeaning toward women in general or toward specific women. The demeaners need to project responsibility for the negative consequences of their actions onto women. A controlling man will need to say, "That uppity woman left me because she couldn't handle not being in control all the time." He cannot say, "She left me because my behavior was unacceptable."

The key to understanding this view of women is that it is all about the complainers. The women they complain about stop being fully human.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:46 AM   4 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Helpful Contributors To Rape Victim Suicide

The suicide of a 20-year-old rape victim in Britain illustrates why I and so many others speak out against all forms of victim blaming -- even the victim blaming that is done in the name of rape prevention or efforts to prevent girls and women from binge drinking.

From the BBC:

Harriet McCormick, from Radyr, Cardiff, was "vivacious and happy" until she was attacked in a car park, her mother told an inquest. But she developed depression and twice took overdoses before jumping off a footbridge onto the M4 motorway. After the coroner said the death was a "direct consequence" of the rape Cheryl McCormick urged victims to speak out.

McCormick didn't report being raped because she wrongly blamed herself. Those who see her self-blame as a completely internal issue which could be solved by teaching girls and women to have better self-esteem so they have the resilience to survive rape have it dead wrong.

All the victim blaming McCormick saw and heard before she was attacked was like swallowing a live grenade with the pin still attached. The rapist committed a crime but the rape itself also pulled the pin on all that dormant victim blaming. This is no lucky accident for rapists.

Smart rapists know that most people will question a rape victim who had a social interaction with the rapist -- even if that interaction only lasted a few minutes in a public place -- about whether the victim sent "mixed" signals.

Girls and women are falsely given the blame for this "confusion" since so many of them are willing to consider saying yes. This means that rapists aren't the cause of most rapes promiscuous girls and women are. That twisted thinking is enough to drive the happiest woman to the brink if she doesn't understand what is happening inside her and why.

So-called mixed signals is one of the biggest lies out there. This lie gives cover to the majority of rapists and puts the responsibility for the rapist's crime onto the victim. Anything and everything becomes a signal of consent and women who want to be out and about must communicate explicitly that they are not in fact consenting. A woman merely talking to a man who later turns out to be a rapist is often described as someone who in a positive state of consent.

Think about the defense attorneys who talk about alleged rape victims who didn't clearly communicate their lack of consent through screaming and trying to scratch the rapist's eyes out. The default is that the rape victim is to blame for rape and the rapist gets a free pass. The rapist must do something besides rape which repulses the victim blamers to have the blame shift from victim to perpetrator. Cutting or shooting his victim for example.

Rape itself is not all that bothersome for many of the victim blamers. It is the just punishment given to women who don't behave and dress modestly enough. We see this whenever someone says, "What did she expect?"

This wrongful blame is something that gets dismissed by many people as simply asking girls and women to take sensible cautions when it is no such thing. And those who object because this victim blaming contributes to the very thing women are warned against get labeled with nasty descriptors such as feminazi. It's very odd, and telling, to read someone use harsher words about those who are fighting sexual violence than they use about those who rape.

Victim blaming as crime prevention is proven to be a lie when it is not used in violent crimes committed equally against men. Hey, men who have been mugged send us your horror stories so we can warn other men against going out on the town. And where are those who trumpet "innocent until proven guilty" or "men lie about being mugged"?

Would we ever expect to see someone write, "Yes, I know that some people do get mugged, but I'm not interested in them. I am interested in all those falsely accused of being muggers." and would those people who so easily dismiss a whole group of crime victims be cheered as objective seekers of the truth?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:14 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, January 28, 2008

Nomination Time

Tomorrow night at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.

A few people have had trouble with the official nomination form, if this happens to you, please let me know by email (my address is in my profile) or leave a comment with a link to the nominated post as soon as possible.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:55 AM   0 comments links to this post

Reno Abduction Linked To Prior Kidnapping Rape

From the AP:

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Police said Sunday a DNA link between the disappearance of a 19-year-old woman and the December sexual assault of a college student leads them to believe a sole attacker was responsible for both cases. DNA taken from the scene where Brianna Denison was last seen Jan. 20 matches DNA gathered after the Dec. 16 sexual assault of a University of Nevada-Reno student who lived several blocks away, police commander Ron Holladay said. [...]

"People who know the suspect may not believe that he is capable of committing this type of crime and he may not necessarily have a violent criminal history," he said.

I wouldn't be surprised if this man described as a white male in his 30s may, when he is caught, be described by some who know him as someone who exhibited sexual violence in a way that so often gets described as "what he did was wrong, but ..."

What many people dismiss as nothing more than inappropriate behavior toward women comes from the same thought processes which leads to crimes such as these. In both cases the only person who matters to the offender is the offender.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:34 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Abstinence Only Excuses For Sexual Violence

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Real Violence Behind So-Called Gray Rape":

Here in lies the problem, people should be abstinent, or maybe someone should work harder about preventing underage drinking. There is no doubt that when you are asked to stop with any type of sexual asked to you should. I do believe that the student should get in trouble for his actions. But he did not seek out this young lady, she initiated the contact so he should not be listed as a sexual predator, don't confuse what I am saying HE WAS WRONG FOR HIS ACTIONS. But maybe we should all have some standards and just say no to start with. Unwanted pregnancies and stds are on the rise because everyone feels the need to "get drunk and Procreate."

This pro-abstinent position provides support for sexual violence. He was wrong -- but ...

Heard that "but" before and before and before for decades. This attitude contributed to my rape. I knew what he did was wrong but ... I also knew that it wasn't wrong enough to be dealt with as if he were a real rapist. You know the type.

Real rapists jump unsuspecting joggers and leave them for dead. When I was growing up, I thought rapists all had labels like "Northside Rapist" and crudely drawn pencil portaits. With my rapist/boyfriend I never feared for my life and I'm sure he never jumped a stranger so by anonymous's logic my rapist shouldn't be lumped in with those who rape innocent women. I wasn't kidnapped off the street so of course part of the problem was that I didn't have standards.

Give me a break. This is a sexual violence apology. A man who isn't violent won't respond to a woman seeking him out or a woman willing to allow some sexualized contact by committing sexual violence.

This excuses the inexcusable while claiming not to do so. Rather than focusing on the decisions of the woman who was wronged this anonymous should be focusing on all the decisions of this man. He didn't have to respond to this woman.

"Not interested" are words that men are capable of uttering. Yet for all the talk of abstinence this is often painted as an impossibility or it is ignored completely. This is very convenient and self-serving for men who say "he was wrong, but ..."

The label sexual predator comes from more than who said, "you want to get together?" For some predators, their internal switch from law abiding citizen to criminal is a woman who initiates a get together or who doesn't seem to hate sexual contact. They understand that mugging and raping an unknown woman is wrong, but don't get that there is nothing that makes sexual violence okay.

That can lead to gentlemanly rapists who openly hate those who rape those they deem to be nice women but who will rape those less than nice ladies with nary a twinge of guilt. If they are caught they will respond with righteous indignation.

Rather than getting their consent from the individual they are with they get it from people like anonymous. It allows them to excuse their inexcusable actions with, "she started it."

Comments like anonymous's open the door to sexual predators who repeat to themselves "this might be wrong but she ..."

The door to sexual violence needs to remain firmly shut. No but cracks allowed.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ohio Nurse Accused Of Raping Elderly

From the AP:

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) -- A night shift nurse accused of raping a nursing home patient confessed to abusing dozens of patients as far back as the 1980s and is likely to face more charges, a police official said Thursday. John Riems, 49, faces a charge of rape and another of gross sexual imposition, Perkins Township Police Chief Tim McClung said.

This man's confession about crimes committed at up to 10 nursing homes including his latest employer, Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center, is one of the reasons the typical advice focusing on the behavior of girls and women have it so wrong and can cause people to dismiss real sexual violence because the crime didn't happen at a so-called dangerous place.

From the Mansfield News Journal:

"We've had several residents, they don't want him touching him, they don't want him in their room," said Cynthia Wilson, 47, a nurse aide who was fired from the Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center in December. "A lot of them would refuse their meds just to keep him out of their room."

I'm not surprised that there were warning signs. I'm also not surprised that there wasn't a system in place for other employees to raise their concerns without worrying about a backlash. A nurse who spends excess time with patients but who refuses to answer questions about his behavior raises all sorts of questions since he should have been able to explain his job-related activities.

Thankfully, Riems has been fired. But that may be small comfort to those he abused and to the families of those who were cared for by Riems.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:08 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, January 25, 2008

Assisted Living Facility Found To Be At Fault For Rape

From the Miami Herald:

A West Kendall assisted-living facility failed to prevent the rape of a 71-year-old Alzheimer's patient by a fellow resident with a history of bad behavior, a state investigation has found.

In a report obtained by The Miami Herald, state investigators faulted the Munné Center for not protecting ''vulnerable'' residents from Darryl McGee, who was ``allowed to come and go freely while intoxicated and exhibiting aggressive behavior toward others.''

This ruling by the state of Florida is important since it may cause administrators to ensure they have methods in place to protect patients from other patients and from staff. The responsibility for patient safety shouldn't be considered a personal matter that falls only on the shoulders of victims and the violent.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:11 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wellness And Forgiveness And Injustice

The January issue of the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource has an article entitled, Finding Forgiveness: A Path to Better Well-Being which highlights something that is often neglected when people talk about the power of forgiveness.

The first step in how to forgive is to fully acknowledge the pain and anger that came from someone's actions. This is something that many of those who advocate for forgiveness consistently work against. I would also add to that first step the need to acknowledge the full scope of the harm done beyond pain and anger and the full scope of what that harm has done to the person harmed.

We understand that forgiving the embezzler who stole a person's life savings doesn't make the stolen money magically reappear and the subsequent financial hardship isn't something that forgiveness will wipe out. We understand that forgiving a drunk driver who put a person in the hospital for a month doesn't magically make the physical injuries disappear and would not allievate the victim's chronic pain.

Those who advocate for forgiveness need to understand this basic truth when what was lost or damaged isn't as easily quantified as cash or the number of broken bones.

If your pain and anger and the real harms done to you are things you are told you should just get over via forgiveness those who say this are not advocates for true forgiveness. Instead of the person who wronged you being at fault for the harm done to you, that harm gets twisted into something self-inflicted because of your selfish refusal to forgive.

This is a convenient falsehood which contributes to those who offend, request forgiveness, repeat. Too often this pattern of harmful behavior escalates because the offender's denial of harm and denial of responsibility adds fuel to the harmful thought process which led to the initial harm.

There is no greater minimizer of a wrong than treating the harm that comes from that wrong -- be it criminal or not -- as if the harm were self-inflicted. If the harm were truly self-inflicted these people would not need to be forgiven for anything.

Many times when rapists and abusers ask their victim for forgiveness, their request comes from selfishness and not even a spark of genuine desire to help their victim heal from the wrong done to them. These requests ask the victim to remain in a dangerous situation or they ask victims to allow dangerous people to escape full accountability.

This turns a request for forgiveness into just another weapon.

Those who encourage offenders to ask for forgiveness are doing those offenders no favor if they don't require the offender to accept the full scope of the harm they have done with no minimizing, no distancing and no excuses.

Also instead of telling offenders to ask for forgiveness, they should be telling offenders to communicate their ownership and understanding of the harm they have done along with genuine remorse for causing that harm. They should take full responsibility with no expectation or request of anything from their victims.

All those who claim to take harm and crimes seriously need to acknowledge that the victims of these harms or crimes owe those who harmed them absolutely nothing. When victims are attacked for refusing to give the forgiveness seeker what that person wanted when they asked for forgiveness, the truth about the attacker's character is revealed. And it ain't a pretty truth.

A rapist who demands forgiveness or feels entitled to forgiveness is clearly unchanged at a core level and must be viewed as a dangerous person no matter how upstanding that person claims to be.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:24 AM   4 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Behind The Complaint About Victims Not Avoiding Danger

I've been thinking about the laments against stupid or foolish victims by people who claim to be against rape and domestic abuse. These laments are at best hopelessly naive. At worst, they are callous statements which support rape and domestic abuse and help perpetrators justify or minimize their actions.

Typically there is more disdain in these laments directed at victims and potential victims than gets directed at perpetrators and potential perpetrators. When they get called on this, they will often justify directing their harshest statements at victims by labeling perpetrators as robotic monsters incapable of learning.

If they believe their own words then they are revealing a stark worldview. Those who have this stark worldview because they have been victims may not feel safe revealing this fact and they may have internalized blame directed at them by their own perpetrators and people who sided with the perps.

While this is understandable, the cycle of victim blaming needs to be interrupted and that isn't always painless.

One of the things that supposedly makes victims stupid or foolish is ignoring generic advice about the assumed causes of rape and/or abuse. These people will say things like, "All men will take what they can get. So don't ever be alone with that man."

This advice is useless since it can easily be proven to be false. Not all men will take what they can get. If someone has concerns about the potential violence of a specific individual -- or knows that a specific individual has a history of violence -- and uses this approach to warn people, it is the failure of their communication which is the biggest contributor to someone trusting the untrustworthy after being warned.

For the person giving the warning, generic warnings which are ineffective are safer in many ways to specific warnings and honest talk where there is no hint of disdain for the person being warned. Those who say, "If you don't heed my warning, you will only have yourself to blame if you are raped/abused" are being ineffective and compounding the harm done by rapists and abusers by letting the violent off the hook.

If they were a victim of this person who they say not to trust because of what men do, getting specific would mean risking disclosure and disbelief. This is one of the reasons why disclosing rape or abuse can be such a powerful step.

Make no mistake, many of those who give warnings have no history of being victimized. There are plenty of people who have a very high tolerance for rape and abuse before they declare that rape and abuse is the responsibility of the rapist or the abuser.

These people's disdain for most victims is real as is their sympathy for many rapists and abusers. To them short skirts and nagging are the cause of rape and abuse. They will frequently talk about their support for truly innocent victims. A woman kidnapped at knife point leaving a mall is a truly innocent rape victim. A woman kidnapped at knife point walking home from a bar is not. Their opposition isn't to the crime itself, but to the selection of "innocent" victims.

Rather than standing up against the violent, they stand up against the "impure" who they believe bring harm onto themselves through their impurity.

The unfortunate reality is that there is potential danger everywhere and to everyone. The best way to reduce that danger is for people to stop sending mixed messages to rapists and abusers. Rape and abuse is wrong no matter the circumstance or the choice of victim. This doesn't change because a victim ignored one or more warnings for whatever reason.

Rape and abuse must be viewed as the legal and moral responsibility of the rapist and the abuser -- no exceptions, no excuses.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:49 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, January 21, 2008

Badgers Of The Human Variety

This auto dealership ad posted on YouTube does a great job of catching the demeaning manner of one type of man who uses the outcome of his interactions with women as proof that women aren't worth treating equally.

These types of men will sometimes find my blog and their comments get deleted most of the time because they are doing nothing more than blowing hot air. The last thing I want to do is give them a place to hang out and vent their bile.

The ad isn't promising great cars or great service. It only promises that women who shop there won't be demeaned by the sales staff.

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:35 PM   0 comments links to this post

Beyond The Iconic Images Of Martin Luther King

From ABC News:

Nearly 40 years after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., some say his legacy is being frozen in a moment in time that ignores the full complexity of the man and his message.

"Everyone knows even the smallest kid knows about Martin Luther King can say his most famous moment was that 'I have a dream' speech," said Henry Louis Taylor Jr., professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Buffalo. "No one can go further than one sentence. All we know is that this guy had a dream. We don't know what that dream was."

This lack of depth is troubling. What I also find troubling is the continuing racism I see from people who paint the pre-civil rights era as the good old days when life in the US was perfect until troublemakers like MLK messed things up.

Those who call white men victims of lynch mobs when nobody is trying to drag them into the streets shame themselves by their minimizing of horrific violence and prove that racism is alive and unwell.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:46 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Trouble With Compassion

When Gov. Mike Huckabee explains why he worked to help convicted rapist Wayne DuMond get paroled before DeMond -- as predicted to Huckabee -- went on to rape and murder, he says he acted out of compassion.

Now there is another case where compassion for a violent offender, is given as the cause of actions which resulted in the preventable death of a woman. This time it was Monica Thomas-Harris who paid the price for so-called compassion with her life.

Deputy District Attorney Samer Hathout, who was filling in on the case, and her supervisor both signed off on the deal to let [Curtis Harris] out. Superior Court Judge Tia Fisher, who was filling in for a vacationing judge, agreed.

"The man appeared rational when I spoke to him, so I presented it to the district attorney and they agreed," said Harris' lawyer, Arthur Lindars. "It's everybody's worst nightmare."

When a man has a history of violence against his estranged wife and that wife reported him to the police so that he was heading to prison for false imprisonment and possession of a gun by a felon, an escalation of the violence by this man isn't a nightmare, it is a predictable possibility.

Revenge.

But he "appeared rational" when he came up with an excuse about why he should be freed before his sentencing is a lame excuse for ignoring the evidence. If the substitutes don't know that their absent counterparts -- and the victim -- supported his release, he shouldn't have been considered for release no matter what his lawyer believed or wanted.

Period.

The defense attorney -- the only non-substitute -- wasn't working for the safety or interests of the victim or the public. The rest of the system needs to act with the knowledge that defense attorneys operate with tunnel vision and distrust for evidence against their clients.

Like in the DuMond case there was supporting evidence that this man was not safe enough to release. In this man's file was a probation report which stated that Harris was a danger to his wife and unsuitable for release.

But so-called compassion trumped evidence and investigations.

A violent man only needed to talk about needing to see to his elderly mother for the victim and public safety to be forgotten. Those who think they can see into people's hearts are often the easiest to fool since they don't feel the need to do even the most basic research to ensure they aren't being played.

Judges and prosecutors will always be busy so we need to have processes in place so that the violent cannot use this regular occurrence to get what they should be denied because they can plead their case in such a way as to elicit a compassionate emotional response without the presence of any countering stories or evidence.

There is nothing wrong with genuine emotion or compassion and those who demand a complete lack of emotion have it as wrong as those they oppose. Too often this so-called rational response ignores the impact and severity of violent crimes when victims suffer no permanent bodily injuries. This type of person could look at this case and say the estranged wife was only scared not harmed and therefore conclude that this man was not a truly violent offender and shouldn't be treated by the system as such. The estranged wife's fear would then be labeled as irrational and incorrectly dismissed as irrelevant.

True compassion and good rational decisions come from knowing everything about a case or an offender and discounting none of the facts and none of the emotions. People can have compassion for a violent offender who cannot go out and see his elderly mother without making the decision to give that violent offender what he wants.

What gets called a compassionate action is too often in reality just being successfully manipulated or it is a handy lie used by the sloppy or the uncaring when a predictable bad outcome becomes reality.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:18 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Woman Who Reported Sexual Abuse By WA Karate Instructor Speaks Up

From KIMA TV:

YAKIMA [Washington] -- Years after the alleged abuse stopped, Rachel Harvey told Action News in an exclusive interview Monday that she walked into the Yakima police department alone last week finally ready to talk. "I was shaking and crying," said Harvey. "I was really afraid they (police) wouldn't believe me, that I wouldn't be able to prove what happened." Harvey told police that when she was 13-years-old her Yakima School of Karate instructor Paul Barr began touching her. By 15, molestation turned to weekly sex. [...]

Others at the karate school suspected something funny was going on with Barr -- police say he took a special interest in young girls -- but no one ever had any evidence something was going on.

This case highlights that in many abuse cases there are signs and it highlights that organizations that work with children need to know what to do when there is a vibe that something isn't right.

Confronting the child is often the worst thing to do since most abused children will deny the abuse out of fear or shame and then this denial can be used as so-called proof that the child was fine with whatever was happening when that is not what was going on at all.

I believe organizations that work with children need a systemic way to collect feedback from children in a way that has a chance of quantifying this type of vibe. The collection of this feedback must be done in a way where the child won't fear retaliation.

Like the allegations in this case, the boundary violations often start very small for several reasons. The first is deniability. The abusive adult can claim that a child who immediately recognizes that someone is attempting to violate them is simply being paranoid.

The second is that this stealth approach can have a child saying nothing because the boundary violation is coming from a trusted source that the child has been told to obey. The child may not be able to fit the actions of an abusive adult into what they've been taught about abusive adults. They may not realize they are in serious danger until after they have been harmed. Because they didn't raise an alarm immediately they may buy the nonsense that they therefore did something wrong.

Because many adults view any repeat of abuse without disclosure to a parent or police as consent, the child may wrongly assume equal or greater responsibility for the adult's abusive behavior. This assumption is almost always something that the abuser works to support. An inappropriate touch may come after the child did something right or it could come after the child did something wrong. But of course the abuser will work to make it seem like the inappropriate action comes because of what the child did.

The spin will be that the child caused the adult to offend.

Kudos to the Yakima, Washington police for treating this woman with the respect she deserves. Unfortunately, there are still too many police officers in this country and others who would have confirmed her fears about not being believed and who would have used the result of their own bigotry as proof that as a significant number of those who report sex crimes are liars.

Rachel Harvey has created a MySpace group: You HaveThe Strength to help those who have had similar experiences.

Update (12/9): Barr was found guilty of molestation after the jury deadlocked on rape charges.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:40 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 18, 2008

Investigators Who Wrongly Dismiss Rape Reports Are Putting Lives In Danger

From the CNN article: Military: Lauterbach provided little to back up rape allegations:

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (CNN) — Slain Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, whose charred remains and those believed to be of her unborn fetus were found in the back yard of the man she had accused of raping her, provided military prosecutors with little reason to believe a rape took place, although officials continued to probe the allegations, the military said Tuesday. [...]

The March 26 encounter was judged to be “not criminal in nature,” or consensual, said Col. Gary Sokoloski, staff judge advocate for the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The second encounter, in April, involved no threats, no force, no violence and no blackmailing, Lauterbach told authorities. She said that during the sexual encounter, she asked Laurean to stop, and he did so, Sokoloski said.

I believe this statement from the Marines seeks to shift responsibility for Lauterbach's death from the Marine investigators failure to protect a crime victim onto the victim herself.

The explanation of why the first "encounter" was judged "not criminal in nature" ignores that threats and force can come in non-stereotypical ways and that clever sex offenders understand exactly how the system works and tailor their words and their actions so their victims have very little acceptable proof of rape or attempted rape. Offenders know that many investigators are quick to dismiss the victim's clear knowledge that what happened was in no way consensual.

This leads lousy sex-crime investigators to label real crime victims as mentally unstable. Once this happens these investigators have done a double harm by misjudging a real crime and sending a strong signal to rapists about what they can get away with and who will be punished when rape victims report their rapes.

This is where I have seen the smug instruct rape victims to escalate the violence so they will have acceptable proof that they were raped. The problem with this advice is that rapists can decide to escalate even more. This may indeed help get a rapist convicted, but the rape victim may not survive to see this "good" legal outcome.

When the Marines describe the 2 reported incidents as encounters, they have turned these 2 incidents into unquestionably mutual acts and this woman's murder becomes revenge against her criminal behavior rather than an escalation of the original violence. The rapists within the military cheer this victim blaming and use it to their criminal advantage.

This victim blaming is well-established far beyond the US Marines.

From the Guardian UK

Promiscuity among young people and the failure of police and prosecutors to put enough effort into investigating cases are two of the principal causes in the collapse in the number of rape convictions, the country's top law officers say today.

In an interview with the Guardian, the director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken MacDonald, and the solicitor general, Vera Baird, urge women to continue to report allegations of rape, while conceding that the authorities are struggling to give victims a proper service. [...]

"There is a lot of drinking and a lot of casual sex. Young people are drinking heavily and are pretty promiscuous," he said. "You have social and sexual complexity, misunderstandings, taking advantage, and ambiguity." This, he said, was making the criminal justice system "quite a blunt instrument".

First, taking advantage is rape. Second, whenever there is ambiguity it was rape. Period. With legal consent there is no ambiguity and there is no one identifying what happened as rape.

What all this talk of promiscuity does is buy the excuses of rapists and put the responsibility for failures within the system directly onto rape victims.

Of course rape investigations would be easier if women never consented to have sex with anyone and never consented to any limited sexualized contact such as hand holding or kissing. The presence of the alleged rapist's DNA would equal a conviction.

If women didn't drink then there would be no raping the drunk. And if women didn't sleep their would be no women waking up mid-rape.

Can anyone imagine a law enforcement official telling the public that a key part of the reason that most carjackers are getting away with their crimes is that drivers give people rides which is causing investigators to have trouble differentiating between the 2 when drivers report being carjacked?

It isn't promiscuity or victims who give investigators little to back up their allegations which contributes to this problem of low conviction rates, it is the pervasiveness and acceptance of dismissing the testimony and perceptions of those who report rape.

This dismissal of the rape victim's lack of consent after rape mirrors the dismissal of lack of consent that occurs during rape. And those who are dismissive wonder why their so-called reasonable concern about rape isn't appreciated by rape survivors.

Too often people who believe a woman who says, "I did not consent" make it clear that they need to get the "other side of the story" before they can accept that this woman was raped.

What they are doing isn't determining whether or not a rape occurred, they are determining whether or not they believe this rapist should be legally accountable for committing rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:56 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Join Effort To Push For Action On Behalf of Jamie Leigh Jones and Others Like Her

For more info, check out the post at Feministe.

Thankfully, we do have congressional representatives who are being proactive such as Congresswoman Louise Slaughter:

I, along with Congressman Ted Poe and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, am taking the first step to ensuring accountability by sending letters to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding answers in the KBR rape cases and asking them to clearly define the steps they are taking to ensure that what happened to Jamie will ever happen again.

Too many people accept violence against women as an acceptable occurrence when our military or our military contractors are assigned to help protect our country. This acceptance turns the military and military contractors into nothing more than a protection racket, but instead of demanding cash they demand something far more destructive -- and not just to their victims.

This acceptance of violence and harassment diminishes the service of women who are treated as disposable toys for male soldiers and male military contractors. Women are not too soft if they cannot withstand sexual harassment or rape. Men are too soft if they cannot resist using their situation to hurt women.

A strong soldier/contractor is never a sadist or a stalker.

Military successes will always be undermined if they are integrated with unethical and illegal behavior. If those who win feel free to hurt their own, they will rightfully be viewed as untrustworthy by those they promise to liberate.

All of the ethical soldiers and ethical military contractors deserve to have their behavior be what is viewed as normal. They should never be acceptable victims to their unethical counterparts just because soldiers and contractors sacrifice their lives in their duty to their country.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Survivor Needs Meme

Shortly before Christmas I was tagged by Marj at Survivors Can Thrive for the "survivor needs" meme, but because of various distractions and commitments, I didn't have time to do the meme.

One of those distractions fits right in with this meme since it resulted in my search for a new place to live.

  1. I need to ensure my safety, both physical and emotional, to the best of my ability.
  2. I need to be treated with respect by all those who are allowed in my life.
  3. If I am not treated with respect by any of those who are allowed in my life, I need to communicate respectfully that a boundary has been crossed.
  4. If my request for respect is not honored or cannot be honored, then I need to change my life to maintain my physical and emotional well-being.
  5. I need to have compassion for myself and for others even when I or they do something wrong.
  6. I need to remember that compassion is not the same thing as tolerance of someone's behavior.
  7. I need to refuse requests for forgiveness if the requestor might be in an offend, forgive me, repeat pattern.
  8. I need friends who I can safely be vulnerable with.
  9. I need to be a friend who my friends can safely be vulnerable with.
  10. I need to handle conflict respectfully and clearly.
  11. When I fail to handle conflict respectfully, I need to learn from my mistakes.
  12. I need to remember that I can stand up for myself without putting anyone else down.
  13. I need to provide help to others but only when that help doesn't compromise who I am or my basic needs.
  14. I need to remember that self-care is important, from proper food to proper emotional safety.
  15. When my life is in chaos I need to remember that I have the right to leave the chaos.
  16. When my life is in chaos I need to remember that I have the power to leave or reduce the chaos.
  17. I need to remember that it is my life I am living when someone says, "If it were me, I would do ...."
  18. I need to do what is right for me even if it would be completely wrong for others.
  19. I need to be intolerant of disrespectful and demeaning behavior.
  20. I need to listen to my discomfort even if I can't put my finger on the source of that discomfort.
  21. I need to listen to warning signs even when I have been assured that there is no danger and that I am over-sensitive.
I have more needs than this, but this partial list is a great reminder for me when a person or situation goes against my needs.

  1. I want to reach out to more survivors in a positive way.
  2. I want more financial freedom.
  3. I want dark chocolate.
  4. I want good health for myself.
  5. I want 5 people to volunteer to be tagged because I don't want to decide who should be tagged.

Rules of the "Survivor Needs" Meme:

Please link back to this post so people can see the origins of the meme, get ideas for their own self-care list, see who's already been tagged, and maybe we can track how far this meme goes.

List 25 needs and five wants. Try to restrict your needs list to things that have to do with being a survivor of some sort of abuse, assault, etc. Your wants list can be anything...you want!

Use this list to remind yourself to get your needs met this holiday season and in the New Year.

Pass on the meme and tag five people to play the meme with you. (I get to tag a few extra folks because, well, I started the meme, okay?)
Please consider participating. The first 5 who comment, please consider yourself tagged.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:10 PM   3 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 39

Welcome to the Jan. 15, 2008 edition of the carnival against sexual violence.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not. Nominations that came in after the nomination deadline will be considered for the next edition of the carnival.

If you support the purpose of the carnival, you can help get the word out about it and all of the posts included in the carnival.

Here are the selections for this edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

gender


In 1739: Penelope Kenny and Sarah Simpson posted at Executed Today, we get a discussion of the first executions (of either gender) in New Hampshire -- two women hanged for concealing dead children, under harsh laws rooted in gender- and class-structured enforcement of reproductive behavior.

In The Perfect Friend posted at Everyone Needs Therapy, we get a discussion of the contrasting sides of perfectionism using an episode of Desperate Housewives where the character Bree creates a perfect atmosphere yet uses her son as a pawn.

legal


In Baltimore Police Officer Gets Probation For Alleged Rape of A 16 Year Old Girl posted at Pick Your Battles, we get a discussion of a plea deal made after some of the forensic evidence in the case disappeared while in the control of the Baltimore police department.

In It's Always the Woman's Fault posted at Shakespeare's Sister. we get a discussion about typical victim blaming by a defendant during sentencing which fell flat with the judge in large part because Kenneth Cooke's victim was only 4 years old.

In Deacon Blues: New Jersey Court Finds Confession Inadmissible Based Upon Cleric-Penitent Privilege posted at EvidenceProf Blog, we get a discussion of a ruling about a confession made while the clergyman viewed himself as acting in the role of employer and not in the role of spiritual advisor.

In Exonerations Show Flip Side Of Injustice Against Those Who Report Rape posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the frequent use of exonerations to justify hostile treatment of those who report rape and how acceptance of bigotry against victims harms defendants.

In Sealed Juvenile Records May Not Be Unsealed For Use In SVP Proceedings posted at Criminal Appeal, we get a discussion about the unsealing of juvenile records so a parole board could evaluate whether the person met the sexually violent predator civil commitment criteria.

In Rape, lies and county debts posted at Hoyden About Town, we get a discussion of the possibility that a California woman who pleaded no contest to a charge of filing a false police report will be levied the expenses for the criminal investigation when this expense doesn't seem to get levied for other false police reports.

In Virginia Governor Proposes Rape Law Reform posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of the proposed changes to current law which currently include allowing a statutory rapist to escape prosecution by marrying the victim and which allows police to require rape victims to take a lie detector test.

In Rape and the Limits of Law posted at IntLawGrrls, we get a discussion of the role and power of law in dealing with rape in countries at war or that have ongoing sectarian violence.

In Tale as Old as Time: Blame the Victim posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion of the denied request by Broadway actor James Barbour (who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the reported groping of a 15-year-old fan) to set up his own hotline seeking information from other men "falsely accused" by this girl.

In Rape Case Where Victim Not Allowed To Say Rape Won't Be Retried posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the latest ruling by the judge who barred certain words from Tory Bowen's testimony which caused the prosecution to abandon the case.

media watch


In Anti-Rape Campaigns posted at The F-Word Blog, we get a discussion of different visual images used to communicate with the public.

In Rape as Murder of the Soul posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion of a New York Times story about Susan Xenarios, who heads the Crime Victims Treatment Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center.



In Rape: Fodder for Comedy Routines and Political Ignorance posted at Feminist Peace Network, we get a discussion of the New Jersey Comedy Festival at Monmouth University and the prevalence of rape jokes told by the men and we learn that Mitt Romney had never heard of the Violence Against Women Act.

personal stories


In Look Into The Eyes Of A Child posted at Telling It Like It Is, we get a view of how a girl can in a few moments go from feeling completely safe and protected to feeling unsafe and unprotected.

In A Failure of Imagination posted at Waiting for Rain, we get a discussion of the unexpected reaction 4 friends had to a slogan for a liquor store which implies that alcohol can overcome lack of consent and how otherwise decent people can find a dangerous message funny.

raising awareness


In How Safe is Public Partying During Festive Seasons in India? posted at bangalorebeats, we get a discussion about the problem of uncontrolled gang molestation which makes it unsafe for women to go out at certain times even if they are with a man or several men and we get a call to take note of these notorious acts and condemn them.

In Cars, beer, sexual harassment posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of the behavior of a mob of about 200 men at the Summernats car festival, which takes place in Canberra every year, as they yelled at women to expose their breasts and see how this behavior fits with the festival organizer's description of them as a “big group of happy people marching around.”

In Antidepressants as a substitute for justice? posted at rethinking rape, we get a discussion which clearly shows the contrast between how rape victims are told to react and how others who are harmed are supposed to react.

In You can only say 'Yes' if you can say 'No' posted at Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, we get a discussion sparked by the revised call for submissions for "Yes means yes" anthology about how state sponsored sexual violence reflects the culture in general.

In The Real Violence Behind So-Called Gray Rape posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a case where a man was suspended from Lewis & Clark College for one semester and how this term better describes an MO.

recovery



In The essence of compassion part 2 posted at Loving Awareness, we get a discussion about how denial of child sexual abuse and avoidance of the issue of abuse is really a lack of compassion. A refusal to accept the abuse adds to the trauma of the experience.

In BLAME: ONE PAINFUL WAY OF DEFEATING YOURSELF posted at SANCTUARY FOR THE ABUSED, we get a discussion about how blame goes beyond accountability for certain actions and passes judgment on the person being blamed.

In AM I UNDER HIS "SPELL"? posted at Dangerous Liaisons, we get a discussion about how the feeling of being under an abuser's spell can come from the fatigue of being abused much the same way that people can feel hypnotised from driving a long stretch of road.

In Narcissist Sympathizers posted at What Makes Narcissists Tick, we get a discussion of the problems inherent in the acceptance of an abuser as someone with flaws including how that contradicts acceptance of the experience of the abused.

In Breaking The Silence---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 4 posted at Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker, we get a discussion about the most frightening, courageous, freeing step that a survivor can take for themselves.

research


In Department of Unsubstantiated Conclusions posted at I'm sick of your insane demands., we get a discussion of the biased value judgments researchers made when they found that female monkeys are more likely to have sex immediately after being groomed by male monkeys and therefore declared these female monkeys to be prostituting themselves.

That concludes this edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition.

The next submission deadline is Jan. 29 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Feb. 1.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use our carnival submission form. If you have any problem with the form, please let me know so your submission can be considered for the next edition.

Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the blog dedicated to this carnival, http://carnivalagainstsexualviolence.blogspot.com/

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:06 AM   3 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marine Who Reported Rape Missing Since Dec. 19 Found Dead In Accused Back Yard

From the AP:

[Lance Cpl. Maria] Lauterbach disappeared sometime after Dec. 14, not long after she met with military prosecutors to talk about her April allegation that [Marine Cpl. Cesar] Laurean raped her. Naval investigators said Saturday the rape case was progressing and Laurean was under a protective order to stay away from Lauterbach.

One of the many things that bothers me about the handling of this case is that the military authorities did not immediately respond to this woman's disappearance as a crime, either a kidnapping or a murder. Her body was found on Jan. 11 in a shallow grave in the back yard of her alleged rapist's house almost a month after she disappeared. A search warrant of his house and his yard should have been requested immediately.

If at that time nothing were found because the grave hadn't yet been dug then Laurean should have been put under surveillance 24/7. Anything less was negligent on the part of Navel investigators.

From CNN:

When asked why Laurean wasn't arrested when he was seen on Saturday night, Brown said it was because he wasn't sighted by law enforcement. "We told the folks in the general public, don't try to detain him."

Brown said police believe Laurean "could be a dangerous and violent person if he was put in a corner."

This assumption is one that is obvious now that the authorities discovered a shallow grave in this man's back yard. However, to one degree or another this should be assumed of all those who are accused of sexual violence and before the alleged victim goes missing. Too often when women like Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach report sexual violence those they report are wrongly assumed to be non-violent offenders even if they are viewed as potentially guilty.

This assumption that sexual violence isn't real violence contributed to this woman's murder before she could testify against Laurean. I saw early reports that no active effort was made to protect Lauterbach because she and her now alleged murderer were "friendly."

However, in the military there is no such thing as being able to quit to avoid a perpetrator and often the only way to endure being around someone who committed a crime against you is to try to act normal.

This coping method is too often seen as proof that either no violence occurred or that it was so minimal that the accused is no threat to anyone. This is one of the reasons that those who investigate sex crimes need to have special training so that they don't miss signs or misinterpret actions or information.

Investigators need to have a better understanding of the potential violence of the accused than even the victim has. Victims can be in mortal danger and not know it so any protection which depends on the victim asking for specific protection is going to lead to preventable deaths.

We cannot afford to have any more of those who report rape fail to get sufficient protection from those who have a vested interested in stopping their victim from testifying.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 PM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Get Your Nominations In Today

Tonight at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.

A few people have had trouble with the official nomination form, if this happens to you, please let me know by email (my address is in my profile) or leave a comment with a link to the nominated post as soon as possible.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:20 PM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Real Violence Behind So-Called Gray Rape

From Western Week:

Last month, officials at Lewis&Clark College suspended Morgan Shaw-Fox, a scholarship student from Boulder, Colo. Most students at Lewis&Clark follow the rules and rarely get in trouble. When they do, it’s often because of flagrant drug use or underage drinking.

Not in this case. According to a number of sources on campus, Shaw-Fox was ordered to leave for one semester for a transgression that is both rarely discussed and, according to experts, very common on college campuses.

Only one semester?

Sorry, but he should have been expelled. However, the sad reality is that this sanction is likely greater than most college men like him ever get for their crimes.

Helen Hunter, a sophomore at Lewis&Clark, says Shaw-Fox forced her to perform oral sex on him the night of Oct. 10. Both of them had been drinking, she says. “Once things got pretty violent, I didn’t know how to get out of it,” Hunter, who’s 19, told WW of the alleged assault. (She agreed to let WW publish her name and photograph.) “I’m a pretty strong person, but I didn’t know what to do.”

The key here is that this man turned violent. To understand this is to understand that 2 college men could go out drinking on a Saturday night and midway through their time out when they are alone, one of those men could sucker punch the other and when the stunned friend is in shock, the other seeming nice guy could beat and choke his friend just because he can and because his violence gives him a rush of power. Once they are around others the violent friend reverts to being a nice guy.

Why a seemingly non-violent college man would instantly turn violent and then switch off that violence again might be confusing, but there is no confusion about whether criminal violence happened. This ability to switch violence on and off would rightfully be seen as control rather than lack of control ascribed to those who turn violent in this exact way against girls and women.

Few people would tell the assaulted college man, "What did you expect when you agreed to being alone with him like that? And don't you know what can happen when you drink?" Most people would view the violent one as the only one who did anything wrong.

Yet because so many people ask questions like this to girls and women who are sexually assaulted, it's no wonder that some people diminish what happened into gray rape when it happens to others or when it happens to them. If gray rape has any meaning, it is simply as an MO for certain types of sex criminals.

What is being called "gray rape" by people like Laura Sessions Stepp is nothing new and is not a consequence of our hook-up culture -- which is a fancy way of saying "she asked for it."

This type of violence was around when I was raped and it was by no means a newly minted behavior back then. Women's behavior didn't cause this so-called gray rape to be committed against them, those who choose violent sexual behavior are the cause.

Rape has historically been seen as what a girl or woman deserves if she doesn't behave with proper purity or if she is married and doesn't behave with unlimited consent. This rightly gets these people called rape apologists and rape enablers. They are absolutely 110% against some rapes and will often twist the rapes they are not against into being false accusations or bad behavior which is and should be legal.

The solution of, "If you don't want to be gray raped never be alone with a man and never consent to any sexualized actions" assumes that all men are rapists who are just waiting for the right trigger to turn violent. That's an insult to all those boys and men who would never rape or get sexually violent or abusive under any circumstances and it makes them the ones who seem abnormal for failing to do the manly thing and attack at the first vulnerable moment.

These questions and victim-centric solutions make sexual violence and sexual abuse normal and expected and they fail to hold those who choose to be violent accountable for their actions. Only their victims are accountable for trusting someone who turned out to be a rapist.

No wonder victims of this type of violence are often confused over what happened and afraid to label what happened to them as flat out sexual violence. Thankfully this woman might have been stunned momentarily, but she knew what was done to her was wrong and she spoke up against it.

Bravo.

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:52 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary Clinton Bashers Confusing Deep Emotion For Weakness

If a politician showing genuine emotion and caring about serving one's own country is a weakness then bring on more weak politicians. For too many politicians politics has become nothing more than a power and money game. Their lack of genuine emotion is what should have eyebrows raised. Except that emotional flat-line often gets mislabeled as "professionalism" when it is nothing more than coldblooded uncaring.

Here's the question where Hillary Clinton got bashed for giving a personal response.

"My question is very personal, how do you do it? How do you, how do keep upbeat and so wonderful?"




Saying that the cause of Hillary Clinton's emotional response to this clearly personal question is due only to a grueling campaign reveals more about those people who say this than it does about Hillary. I've certainly known men who would have to be exhausted to the point of needing to be hospitalized before they would show a shred of genuine emotion.

How sad for them and those stuck with these stiffs.

How sad for our country if we only elect those unwilling or incapable of showing genuine emotion because we are scared of politicians who genuinely care and can show it or because so many male politicians have been caught faking emotion.

How sad for those who are scared and confused by a politician getting real.

How sad for those who think genuine emotion and logic cannot coexist.

If we as voters punish politicians for showing genuine emotion we have nobody to blame but ourselves if we get stuck with manipulative cold-hearted jerks looking out for only themselves and their buddies.

I've seen reference to Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire as being caused by sympathy from women, but I think they have it wrong. If the biggest gripe the pundits have with her is her personal manner whether it be called bitchy or too girly then by implication they are admitting she is a fantastically strong candidate on the issues and on her professional experience and there is no logical reason she shouldn't be a great president.

One of these pundits, Marc Rudov, makes men voters seem like the real illogical and emotional voters who have or will vote against Hillary because she is described as having a nagging voice.

And women are attacked for non-sensical reasons for casting their vote? Please.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:17 PM   0 comments links to this post

Daryl Alt Civil Commitment Looks Like A Done Deal

In October of last year Daryl Alt, a convicted murderer and convicted rapist who after raping his last victim, a 15-year-old girl left her for dead, was scheduled to be released from prison. Prior to his release the Olmsted County, Minnesota prosecutor's office filed paperwork to have him civilly committed at Minnesota's sexual offender treatment center in Saint Peter.

A judge ruled to to keep Alt incarcerated until his civil commitment hearing was resolved but rulings could be overturned.

That's why I was thrilled to get the following information from KTTC:

A new ruling says that convicted sex offender and murderer, 49 year-old Daryl Alt, will now spend the rest of his life committed and behind bars.

With the crimes Alt committed the criminal justice system should have assured this outcome, but because it didn't, civil commitments -- done responsibly -- need to be available for those whose cumulative actions and patterns make them too dangerous to ever free.

I watched a special not long ago on prison overcrowding and saw how California's 3 strikes law is being applied to criminals the originators of that law never intended so I'm not sure how to catch people like Alt in the criminal justice system without catching many others who do not pose this level of public safety risk.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Roger Clemens Accuser Lied To Police During Rape Investigation

From CBS Sportsline:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Detectives believed the former New York Yankees trainer who says he injected Roger Clemens with steroids lied to them during the 2001 investigation of a possible rape, according to documents released Tuesday by police.

Police said Brian McNamee denied having sex with a possibly drugged woman in a hotel pool, even though security guards and other witnesses said they saw him. McNamee hired a New York attorney, who called detectives to arrange an interview. "I explained to him that his client did talk with me once, and he lied to me," St. Petersburg Police detective Donald Crotty wrote in a report. The state attorney's office, however, decided not to press charges.

Clemens cited the incident as an example of McNamee's dishonesty in a defamation lawsuit filed Sunday in Texas.

This is a valid use of past history to show that a person is capable and willing to lie during a criminal investigation to escape legal accountability. If this man's testimony is the only evidence of Clemens steroid use then there is no credible evidence that Clemens ever used steroids.

The same must hold true for everyone else named by McNamee. If his testimony is the sole evidence then there is no credible evidence that they ever used steroids.

Also if it is true that a date rape drug was found in McNamee's alleged rape victim then those athletes who claimed to have never knowingly taken steroids from McNamee must have their statements viewed as credible. Someone who will slip a woman a date rape drug to get his desired results has the ethical track record where it should be expected that he will slip others drugs to get his desired results.

Too many people wrongly assume that someone can be unethical to the point of rape while being completely ethical in the rest of their life. But it doesn't work that way. A willingness to abuse goes far deeper than a person's sexual actions.

From Accountability Central:

[veteran Los Angeles libel lawyer Anthony] Glassman said the chances were "better than 90%" that a judge would refuse to allow Clemens to introduce that report as evidence, so as to avoid "a trial within a trial" on an unrelated matter in which no charges were filed.

Jody Armour, professor of law at USC, agreed a judge probably would keep the report out of evidence but said Clemens could argue it should be used for the limited purpose of helping a jury assess McNamee's credibility.

I find it appalling that McNamee was caught in a lie with neutral witnesses, and apparently testing revealed a date rape drug in his alleged victim's body and he still wasn't charged with rape or any other crime.

Too often it seems like rape is a crime in name only.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:21 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Most Eligible Rape Defendant

With 2 upcoming trials in Boston this case shows how someone's image can contrast with their private behavior.

Gary Zerola's dark, brooding looks and his work on behalf of foster children helped earn him a spot on People magazine's list of America's "Most Eligible Bachelors" and a tryout for the TV reality show "The Bachelor." [...] He awaits back-to-back trials beginning Tuesday in Boston on charges he attacked two 19-year-olds in 2004 and 2006. He also faces charges in Florida, where authorities say he force-fed drugs to an 18-year-old woman, then raped her in a Miami Beach hotel in October while free on bail in the Massachusetts assaults.

Prosecutors say Zerola met all three women in bars, charmed them, then attacked them when they refused to have sex. In the 2006 case, he allegedly took the woman shopping at Neiman Marcus, where he bought her a $700 dress and $250 shoes before trying to rape her in his Boston apartment.

This contrast between generosity and viciousness is far too common in rapists and those who claim to love women but then turn around and abuse them. Whenever I see signs of this contrast in people, they lose my trust even if they seem to have a valid reason for getting angry. I used to believe that the actions of others could cause someone to become vicious, but now I know that the actions of others are only triggers for viciousness that was already bubbling under the surface.

The nice person who flies into road rage because another driver cut them off is only reliably nice on the surface and when they realize not being nice will come back to bite them. They seem to be people who hold onto resentments. This resentfulness can be used to justify the unjustifiable.

When I read that Zerola bought one of the alleged victims clothing, I could almost hear the sneers of those who view women as dishonest gold diggers. The problem with this is it assumes, without any supporting evidence, that it was the woman who initiated the shopping trip. The problem seems to be with a man who would spend almost a $1000 like this on a stranger.

It makes me wonder if he has some desperate need to be seen as the perfect man. Those who are desperate to be perfect will need to find ways to blame others for their imperfections. This isn't healthy for the individual or for those who get blamed.

Zerola and his friends describe his past in foster care, beginning at the age of 3 when his parents divorced, as bad enough that most people would have turned to drugs or crime. In the description of his time before being placed permanently with a suburban lawyer and his wife, I notice that there is no description of any process of dealing with that decade. It's simply like a switch was turned.

Horrific to perfect.

That strikes me as an act of suppression. The problem with suppressing trauma is the trauma doesn't go away and nasty garbage can pop up to burst the perfect bubble. This in no way excuses him from responsibility for any crimes he committed since he made the choice of how to respond to each situation.

As with any defendant or criminal, someone else went through the same type of trauma and didn't choose to commit any violent crimes. Others faced similar rejections without becoming violent.

Those who view these women as the problem for "cruelly" rejecting this man reveal their tolerance for viciousness. That's never good.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:43 PM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 07, 2008

Boob Jobs Ok With Catholic Hospital As Long As Your Birth Certificate Says Female

The twist in logic used at Catholic run Seton Medical Center (hat tip: Feministe) where non-reconstructive breast enlargements are just fine as long as those getting boob jobs had "female" listed on their original birth certificate, but where transgendered people, such as Charlene Hastings, are banned from the same procedure because they should stay the way God made them is awe inspiring.

If people are meant to stay the way God created them then all plastic surgeries which don't have a clear medical need associated with them (and maybe some of those that simply improve quality of life) should be banned from this Daly City, California hospital.

At a minimum, this logic as applied should mean that breast reductions at this hospital are done only on those born male. If it is unmale to get larger breasts then it must be unfemale to get smaller ones.

God created me with moles and one of them -- with no risk of becoming cancerous -- I had removed because it was in a position where it frequently got irritated. No mainstream religious person who uses the "stay as God created you" justification for denying medical services would think about banning the minor surgery I went through. I believe this is because most people can relate to removing a minor skin irritant so they don't view it as going against God's wishes.

Most people however cannot relate to someone whose spirit and body are in discord over whether they are female or male. Because of that it is easy for these people to treat those in that position with a level of disrespect that they would never show over other issues related to physical appearance, identity and medical care.

If God made a person with a complete stomach then gastric bypass surgery should be viewed as going directly against God using the logic applied at this Catholic hospital. But again because this is a procedure that deals with an issue most people can relate to --weight -- it doesn't get the same kind of stigma even though there are serious medical complications that can arise from this procedure.

For too long the medical profession pretended that all babies were born either clearly male or clearly female with no ambiguous sex organs and no conflicts between chromosomes and hormones. The treatment of these babies was often arbitrary and recommended to remain a secret withheld from the child. But intersex is real and secrecy only adds to the stigma placed on those who don't fit expected gender molds.

The rules at the Catholic hospital in essence continues to deny that any child can be born intersex or that being transgendered is something real and not merely imagined.

The Bible doesn't talk about these issues so they must not be real and valid medical issues for individuals and their doctors to work out together.

What this feels like to me is bigotry and ignorance which uses religious doctrine as an excuse for discriminatory practices.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:16 PM   2 comments links to this post

Queensland Prosecutor Who Resigned Over Gang Rape Case Claims He Was Following Directions

From ABC Australia:

[Former Crown Prosecutor, Steve Carter] was heavily criticised for failing to seek jail terms for nine offenders who raped a 10-year-old girl on Cape York in 2005, but says that is what his superiors told him to do. But Queensland's acting Premier Paul Lucas says a review found Mr Carter did not receive sentencing instructions.

This is an interesting claim and one that could be true even if there is no written record of sentencing instructions given to Carter. The attitudes behind giving no jail time to sex offenders are well-established and not just with certain populations within Australia as some people have speculated.

For many people, if the victim isn't perceived as an "innocent" victim for whatever reason then jail or prison time seems like an unjust sentence. Often the fallout from previous abuse is what stops people from seeing a victim as "innocent" when that person is in reality someone who has been harmed and who has been changed by that harm.

Repeated sexual abuse or repeated rape doesn't minimize the severity of the latest crime that was committed even if the victim seems to have no emotional reaction to that abuse. What many people see as no harm is a form of shock which helps the victim endure what no one should have to endure.

For too many people if they can't see the harm, they want the legal system to act as if there was no harm. But the laws and the sentences shouldn't be based on the desires of the uncaring or the unknowing even when they claim to be neither of these.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:13 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rape Survivor Reports Sexual Assault By Self Defense Instructor

When it comes to rape prevention, we often think of self-defense classes and self-defense instructors as places and people who will help us remain safe. Unfortunately, some people choose to violate that trust rather than to uphold it.

As with all rapes and other forms of sexual violence the cause and the motivation are within the person doing the violating. The cause of rape is not within a specific place or a specific action by someone who becomes a crime victim. This girl wasn't to blame when she was sexually assaulted 2 years before taking this community ed class and she wasn't to blame this time.

From Fox Twin Cities:

According to the charges, the girl told police she took the class because she was sexually assaulted more than two years earlier. She told police the sexual contact with [Ladislao] Enriquez escalated over several months. She reported the incidents to her mother last week.

The charges of first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct against Ladislao Enriquez are a reminder that all the stereotypes about safe people and safe places are just that. Sometimes rapists are in the so-called dangerous places and sometimes rapists run the so-called safe places. Restricting where girls and women can or should go does nothing to solve the problem of sexual violence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:47 PM   3 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Exonerations Show Flip Side Of Injustice Against Those Who Report Rape

For many of those who view the efforts of anti-rape activists with hostility, the exoneration of Charles Chatman, the 15th man cleared in Dallas County, Texas through DNA analysis after nearly 27 years in prison is seen as evidence that those who want better rape laws and better rape investigations are in the wrong and are partly responsible for injustices against wrongfully convicted men.

This so-called proof has it dead wrong.

Their mistake is in not seeing that the problems victims have when they report or when they cooperate with the criminal prosecution are symptoms of the same underlying problems: Cases that get pursued or dropped based on perception, bigotry and faulty processes rather than being pursued or dropped based on full untainted evidence and investigations.

Those who attack estimates that the number of deliberately false rape claims is about 2% often claim to only want an accurate number -- whatever that number is. However, when I see someone scoffing at the 2% estimate, or the statement that there is no evidence that false reports of rape are higher than any other type of crime, I also see them advocating for the response to reports of rape to be opposite to the response to reports of non-sex crimes.

This desired response is bigotry in action and it is why some state laws such as in Virginia still allow investigators to force rape victims to take a polygraph exam before the report will be investigated. For some people these barriers put in the way of those who report rape are viewed a necessary part of ensuring justice and for people like Glenn Sacks this overt unequal treatment are a "backhanded admission from Virginia police that false rape claims aren't rare."

Institutionalized bigotry and general support for that bigotry tends to skew official results. This is something Glenn Sacks believes selectively. He believes that rape convictions can be skewed, resulting in wrongful convictions, but he acts as if any negative labeling of those who report rape must be 100% accurate.

One reason [for polygraph of alleged rape victims] is probably that these crimes are often more intimate and less likely to have witnesses. But another reason is probably that the officers, through their own experiences, have seen that false accusations of sexual assault are much more common than false accusations of other crimes. Feminists insist that false rape claims are not any more common than false claims of other crimes.

If an investigator believes that nearly half of all those who report rape are telling malicious lies that investigator will soon find excuses to weed out half of the reports as quickly as possible if allowed to do so. The interviewer may feel justified in attempting to coerce a recantation "for everyone's sake" from a girl or woman who doesn't look or act like a "real" rape victim should.

No need for pesky and costly investigations in these cases. After all, these investigators have seen the proof of this belief through their own experiences. They treated a large number of those who reported being raped with open hostility and most of those people went away exactly as the investigator expected. And I bet these same investigators shake their heads trying to figure out what is wrong with so many rape victims who refuse to report their rape to law enforcement.

Because of bigotry that interviewer will have no awareness of the number of rapists cheering this treatment of those who report rape and who are depending on these sorts of investigators who want to avoid investigating all reports of rape to help them escape legal accountability for their crimes.

The problem that many people can't or won't see is that a system which supports stopping investigations based on bigotry and intimidation of witnesses (that's what the polygraph test requirement is at heart -- a scare tactic) is a system which will support continuing investigations based on bigotry even if the suspect doesn't fully match the victim's initial description and it will support trying to coerce witnesses into identifying their chosen suspect.

Under this bigoted model, if law enforcement believes the report of rape (possibly because of the severity of the victim's injuries) then it must necessarily disbelieve those who are suspected of committing this verified rape.

Too many of those who demand fairness for rape defendants will with no awareness of their own unfairness say about a case they hear about, "Women like that aren't honest so she is guilty of filing a false police report and she should have the book thrown at her." Statements like these are an open call for unfounded and false convictions. Something these people claim to be 100% against.

"Women like her" do get raped no matter what characteristic makes someone a "woman like her."

The only way to minimize the number of defendants wrongfully convicted of rape or other crimes is to ensure proper treatment of all of those involved in criminal cases and reports of crimes.

It must be all about the skilled and ethical collection and handling of all the evidence (including testimony), stupid. Those who want only alleged rapists to be treated fairly are advocates for injustice against crime victims and by that action they become supporters of injustice against those accused of rape.

Once you allow sloppiness and bigotry into the system, you can't completely control who it will hurt and who it won't.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:08 AM   0 comments links to this post