Friday, February 29, 2008

Mary Koss Responds To MacDonald LA Times Op Ed

From Mary Koss's response to Heather Mac Donald's LA Times op-ed comes study results which do more than support the original Koss study results.

The National College Drinking Study done at Harvard also reported similar numbers and more importantly found that they could be predicted by the rate of binge drinking on the campus as a whole. Thus, on high binge drinking campuses, ANY woman was more likely to be raped, not just those who intoxicated themselves.

This is a result which I'm sure Mac Donald will either ignore or deny because she doesn't want to think that violence by men against women has anything to do with men's bad or criminal choices while in college.

Those like Mac Donald who cannot deny this result will announce that the solution for college women is easy. "Don't attend colleges where the men binge drink. What could be easier? If a woman knows about this study and attends a party college then she must not mind being raped."

This makes as much sense as someone saying "Don't drive on roads where drunk drivers can be present. What could be easier? If you know about the danger of drunk driving and drive where those people might be then you must not mind being slammed into and possibly killed. The problem isn't drunk drivers, the problem is stupid sober drivers who have a death wish."

Even people like Mac Donald have to know the solution to people being killed by drunk drivers isn't to clear the road of all potential innocent victims. But of her long op-ed, here is all she has to say about those guilty of sex crimes:

Paragraph 3: And who will be the assailants of these women? Not terrifying strangers who will grab them in dark alleys, but the guys sitting next to them in class or at the cafeteria.

Paragraph 21: In all these drunken couplings, there may be some deplorable instances of forced and truly non-consensual sex. But most campus "rape" cases exist in the gray area of seeming cooperation and tacit consent, which is why they are almost never prosecuted criminally.

So out of 35 paragraphs in Mac Donald's op ed, rapists are terrifying strangers and rare men who are deplorable (can anyone imagine a man getting prison time for being deplorable?) toward women who put themselves in danger. The rest of the college rapists are figments of feminists' imaginations or they are deliberately wrongly accused.

In those 35 paragraphs there is not one word of rebuke directed at college men who choose to become rapists. She doesn't even rebuke the stranger rapists but by implication rebukes the college women who practice the risky sexual behavior of walking alone in dark alleys. In her worldview there are no truly innocent rape victims on college campuses.

No wonder she is opposed to campus rape crisis lines. She has judged all who might call and found them guilty.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:13 PM   1 comments links to this post

It Isn't Just Victims Of Date Rape Who Cope By Rape Denial

From KMBC out of Kansas City:

["] I hadn't had premarital sex. I felt like I was doing the right thing to get to where I wanted to go in life," said Carrie. Carrie told KMBC's Lara Moritz that one spring night after a study session her car broke down.

"I saw some men come across the street and I thought, 'They'll fix my car,'" Carrie said. "They took control of the situation, took me behind the building and sexually assaulted me." Carrie said she was raped by three different men. She said she felt her sense of self destroyed. [...]

It was that night Carrie said she made the decision not to tell anyone about the attack. "You feel like you are the dirtiest, the nastiest person in the whole world. And there must be something about you that that person saw that made them think this was available to them," Carrie said. [...]

"It was easy for me to say I'd never been raped. If there was talk about a rape on the news or in a book, I had it under control," Carrie said.

According to Heather Mac Donald's theories used in analyzing Mary Koss's study results, this woman's decision to cope with her trauma through denial of stranger gang rape -- for a decade until a news story about the Westport rapist caused her to break her silence -- should be viewed by everyone as proof that there was no rape.

To see this woman's denial as a coping method which allowed her to continue functioning despite her being the victim of gang rape is, according to Mac Donald's only theory, to disrespect this woman.

Further, either Mac Donald's theory is dead wrong or we must believe that this woman who is now speaking out and identifying herself as a rape survivor is a liar. For many people like Mac Donald this woman would seem unreliable because they deliberately confuse labels with reality.

Refusing to believe that someone you trust tried to kill you despite overwhelming evidence doesn't mean you weren't the target of a murder plot. That isn't a difficult concept to grasp yet supposed experts on the mythology of the rape crisis can't manage it when the crime is rape? Really?

An interesting facet in Mac Donald's theory is it turns rape into a completely self-inflicted crime. Don't want to be raped? If and when someone does something which meets the legal standard for rape then simply deny that you were raped and that violence committed against you -- by force of will alone -- becomes not worth prosecuting. No wonder Mac Donald and others like her give so little attention to rapists.

"Don't be a victim" takes on a new and very warped spin. So to does the "boys will be boys" response which makes the rapist's sexual actions literally no different from the non-rapist's. This should scare men who aren't rapists because they are classified by Mac Donald and her ilk as no different during sex than those who repeatedly force others to have sex.

Carrie is one of those supposedly mythical college students who was raped but who didn't call a crisis line while still in college. Unlike the mythology of non-reporting rape victims, this woman wasn't involved in the so-called hook up culture. She followed all of the victim-blaming rape prevention steps and she still got brutally raped.

Like all rapes this happened because she had the misfortune to cross paths with rapists when those rapists felt like they could launch an attack. This reality is uncomfortable for many people who want to believe that they can apply a rape repellent. This distorted thinking and denial of the reality of rape gives most rapists the protection they want. It also gives them an accountability repellent.

But all that victim blaming rape prevention did a number on this gang rape victim and even she felt that she had somehow caused those men to decide to rape her.

Mac Donald rejects efforts to reach women like Carrie when they are in college so they can quickly get the resources they need and have the option of reporting their rapes, Mac Donald and others like her want to dismantle existing college programs she maliciously dubbed as part of the rape industry.

Mac Donald clearly wants to go back to the good old days when there were no rape crisis hotlines. If I had known about a toll-free rape crisis line after I was raped, I would have called it and if I had received the type of support I was able to give as a volunteer advocate, I would have told my parents and it's possible that I would have reported my rape. No doubt about it, my rapist's life would have been disrupted by my disclosure with or without law enforcement involvement.

Yet according to Mac Donald those who run crisis hotlines are described as being part of a rape industry. I think some people protest too much.

For an excellent rebuttal of Mac Donald's LA Times op-ed which includes many informative links, please read the rebuttal op-ed written by SAFER board member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What It Means When A Whistleblower Won't Whistle

An ex-Cornwall, Ontario constable, Perry Dunlop, is at the center of a legal controversy related to child sex abuse cases in the mid 1990s.

From the Standard Freeholder:

Perry Dunlop will spend two more weeks behind bars while a Toronto court decides his punishment for not testifying at the Cornwall Public Inquiry. The Ontario Divisional Court refrained from sentencing the former city cop Wednesday and remanded him back into custody. [...]

"I did it for all the right reasons," he told Justices Lee Ferrier and Katherine Swinton. "I will never walk back into that Cornwall inquiry even if you put a gun to my head."

In 2000, Dunlop received an ethical courage award for the unauthorized revealing to the Children's Aid Society that the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese had been allowed to pay the alleged victim $32,000 and the criminal investigation ended. Because the leak was clearly unauthorized, the Cornwall police charged Dunlop for doing so. Dunlop was later cleared of wrongdoing.

A task force was formed in Cornwall after Dunlop's leak to investigate allegations of widespread child sex abuse. The results were mixed at best and only one person was convicted of a sex crime. Dunlop seems to believe this was because there was a conspiracy to protect child sex abusers. The problem with this theory is that even with the most skilled and ethical investigators, the outcome of child abuse cases can be iffy when there isn't a visibly mangled victim.

For example, a child sex abuse victim who reacts to abuse by being rebellious may be incorrectly seen as likely to lie about being abused. Those who understand sexual abuse know that disdain for authority can easily follow a deep betrayal by an authority figure, but the public at large from which the jury is selected may not be so informed.

An area where many cases break down is when there are any interactions between investigators and young alleged victims which are done in such a way that there can be a claim that the alleged victim could be making false statements in an attempt to provide the investigator with the right answer.

Questions such as, "Did he touch you between your legs?" can lead a suggestible child who was not touched between the legs to answer yes because that seems to be the answer which will please the adult. The effect of this possibility is to make truthful answers given by real victims questionable. This is why there is special training in how to question a child thoroughly without any leading questions.

Bad practices from well-meaning investigators can hopelessly compromise real crime victims' chances of seeing their perpetrators convicted and sentenced in proportion to the crimes committed against them. If those perpetrators are convicted of the appropriate crime bad practices can cause those convictions to be overturned on appeal.

With best practices in place on a specific case, juries may still feel there is reasonable doubt for numerous reasons. Real abusers can get away with their crimes with no help from anyone who has a desire to protect someone they know is a child abuser.

No matter what the skills and intentions were of the task force, Dunlop and his family felt harassed because of the reaction to his choices and actions which went against policy. He quit the Cornwall police force and moved with his family to British Columbia.

Now there is an active Cornwall Public Inquiry which is looking into the handling of these child abuse cases. These inquiries are about more than the past, they are also about the future.

Those who support Dunlop's refusal seem to be making the assumption that this inquiry is a personal attack on Dunlop and a defense of child sex abuse.

Others like Holly at Holly's Fight for Justice believe that inquiries serve an important purpose and that Dunlop should finish what he started by appearing before the inquiry and facing even the toughest questions about what he saw and his decisions and actions based on those observations.

She believes that if the investigative process in Cornwall, Ontario and elsewhere need to change but Dunlop won't speak to those critical issues because of his personal feelings then that hurts the type of crime victims Dunlop championed. These sex abuse and rape victims are often asked to endure cross-examinations more personal than any questions Dunlop will be asked during the inquiry. If a trained investigator says cross-examination is worse than having a gun held to his head then that sends a terrifying message to victims.

She also believes that the cost associated with Dunlop's continued refusal to testify reduces the funding available for other criminal justice services.

A man who identifies himself as Karol Karolak characterizes Holly's position in a much different light. He acknowledges that she is a rape survivor but then uses the trauma of rape to discredit her opinion that Dunlop should testify. This is demeaning not only to Holly but to all other rape and sexual abuse survivors -- even those Karolak claims to care about. Then he makes the illogical and unfounded claim that her belief that Dunlop should testify is caused by a disregard for male sexual abuse victims. From there he strays into a rant against homosexuals which makes homosexuality a stepping stone to same-sex pedophilia.

This line of reasoning makes no sense or heterosexuality would be considered a stepping stone to opposite-sex pedophilia and opposite-sex rape. This also does nothing to improve the criminal justice system and doesn't give any specific logical reasons why Dunlop should continue to refuse to testify.

By association, Karolak makes Dunlop seem like someone who may have taken actions because of homophobia and not because he wanted to see all sex abusers carefully and ethically investigated and prosecuted. If that is the case then Dunlop's continued refusal to testify at the inquiry, to the point of serving jail time, makes perfect sense.

Somehow I don't think that is the message Karolak meant to send.

Conspiracies and counter-conspiracies don't do any genuine crime victims any productive good. What is needed are effective systems in all jurisdictions so everyone's safety and rights are respected.

"He [Dunlop] keeps thinking that this is a criminal trial. He keeps thinking they should call the bad guys to testify," said [Lead commission counsel Peter] Engelmann. "I think it's unfortunately just a basic misunderstanding about what the inquiry is." [...]

[John] Swales [who served as a liaison between abuse victims and a London, Ont. law firm with standing at the inquiry] said while it "pains" him to see Dunlop in jail, the hoopla around his refusal to testify has diverted attention away from the real issue: exploring how the institutions failed sexual abuse victims.

If I understand this concept correctly, inquiries look at past mistakes which are within the government's control and look to find ways to eliminate those mistakes from future cases. If any of these inquiries are failing to do this then that process needs to be adjusted accordingly.

If victims of child sexual abuse are critically important to Dunlop then he should testify even if the process will be painful.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:06 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Police Interrogations And False Admissions

I'm using a broader term in my title because many of those who study false admissions given during police interrogations look only at those who come into contact with the police because they are suspected of committing a crime.

Richard A. Leo, a law professor at the University of San Francisco has written the book, Police Interrogations and American Justice which includes the subject of false confessions. Understanding this subject matter is important, but equally important -- but often overlooked -- is understanding that a recantation of a criminal allegation is also a confession. The same techniques which leads to false confessions of guilt by crime suspects leads to false recantations.

I haven't read Professor Leo's book and I hope he is aware enough to see how those who report crimes can be easily treated as if they are the real criminals, often without the basic legal rights given to crime suspects and defendants. These interrogations often are labeled as simple interviews when they are in reality hostile interrogations.

The subset of false admissions called false confessions are accepted by most people as more than a defense attorney inspired myth even if they assume false confessions are extremely rare. This makes sense because when someone convicted of murder based on a false confession is exonerated, it is a very public black eye. It also makes sense when someone is coerced into making a false confession of raping and murdering his 3-year-old daughter wins a $15.5 million civil judgment even though this father was cleared before going to trial.

Less public are false admissions to the police related to a report of being a crime victim. Often when these false recantations happen during police interrogations no forensic evidence from the real crime is collected and the investigation of the true allegations are stopped cold. Only rarely do these cases get officially acknowledged and when they do they don't get the level of media attention given to false confessions.

For some people there is no harm to the crime victim if that person isn't wrongly charged with filing a false police report because justice is between the state and the perpetrator. The victim is reduced to nothing more than a witness. This is a dangerous view since it minimizes the impact of having the truth treated like it is a malicious lie and it minimizes the real life impact of a rapist who is aided and abetted by hostile interviewers.

The book Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice by Bill Lueders follows one such case where the Madison, Wisconsin police decided that a woman raped by a stranger at knifepoint was lying. Without this rape victim's determination, the DNA evidence wouldn't have been processed and a known sex offender, Joseph Bong, wouldn't have been charged and in 2004 convicted of raping her. Only when the book was complete in 2006 did the city of Madison offer to pay her $35,000 for the way she was mistreated.

Most of the defense lawyers who are frantic in their opinions about how to prevent or discredit false confessions don't seem to know or care about false recantations. This doesn't serve them well since it makes them appear to be only selectively in favor of police tactics which get accurate results. Every false recantation which isn't exposed makes those who report crimes, especially rape, falsely appear to be less reliable witnesses to juries than they really are.

Also important to understand are how these police techniques can be used by criminals to break down their victim's psychological defenses to gain a false statement of consent.

Any reasonable person should accept that someone who has just been raped is in no position to consent to the first rapist's buddy who asks the traumatized woman whether she will choose to be raped by him or whether she will choose to have consensual sex. When that woman bargains with her soon-to-be rapist in order to minimize her trauma, her defensive action should not be mistaken for legal consent. Yet an appeals court in Maryland viewed this response as legal consent.

I'm all for understanding how police interrogations can go wrong, but I am against tunnel vision understandings.

Hat tip: Deliberations

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Call For Submissions

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) with a subject line of carnival nomination or leave a comment with a link to the nominated post as soon as possible.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:25 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, February 25, 2008

Katie Roiphe Wanna Be Writes Denialist Diatribe

This effort titled The Campus Rape Myth was published in the City Journal and was written by Heather Mac Donald.(Update: Her opinion is also included in the LA Times)

The flaws in this article are so many that I can't begin to address them all. But each of the flaws play to the desires of rapists and others who want to condemn most rape victims and those who actively work to fight rape and to help rape victims.

Make no mistake this isn't an article which is advocating taking a better approach to a real and serious problem. Mac Donald claims that research by Mary Koss disrespects women by asking those surveyed about sexual violence in terms other than "have you been raped?" Labeling a woman who was forced to have sex as a rape victim is disrespectful of women with no concern about whether the alternative language matches criminal statutes, but the men who force woman and girls to have sex are not labeled as disrespectful of women.

Go figure.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the [college campus rape] crisis doesn’t exist.

This is a circular proof which very conveniently uses her apathy and her disdain and that of many others like her as proof that they are not only right to be apathetic and disdainful. It is their moral duty to be apathetic and disdainful and to attack everyone who is not apathetic or disdainful.

She writes of self-proclaimed rape survivors but never writes of self-proclaimed falsely accused. No wonder she, who views all feminist claims with suspicion and plenty of scrutiny, writes: "As Stuart Taylor and K. C. Johnson point out in their book Until Proven Innocent, however, the rate of false reports is at least 9 percent and probably closer to 50 percent."

If a journalist and a history professor make a claim in a book then it must be true -- no scrutiny required.

Feminists must respect the self-applied labels used by those who do and don't identify what happened to them as rape even if what happened to them met the legal standard for criminal sexual assault, but Mac Donald doesn't have to respect those who do identify what happened to them as rape.

Go figure.

It is important to note that Taylor and Johnson quoted Linda Fairstein in their book to help prove this statistical range, but their quote which included "about 50% simply did not happen" was inaccurate and I have yet to discover the methodology used for their revised estimate of 10 to 15 percent for false rape reports attributed to Fairstein. Notably this number is still higher than what was attributed to Fairstein at a Cosmo panel on date rape.

Because of the methodology Mac Donald used to dismiss Koss's survey results she must also dismiss all other studies where any observer decides who deserves the label of real rape victim in any way other than the person's initial report. This includes studies which support Mac Donald's clear bias. What this means is that Mac Donald has zero support for disproving a 2% rate of false rape reports.

But this is an attack piece on what Mac Donald disingenuously calls the rape industry. Her target audience doesn't want her to be skeptical of or precise about their favorite claims. If there is insufficient response to an identified problem then it must be true that the identified problem is false and that the current insufficient response must be dismantled.

Insufficient response to poverty? Proof that poverty is rare. Yet would anyone call food shelves and other agencies working to fight poverty around the country poverty industries which need to be dismantled? I hope not.

This is coldbloodedness at it's worst. Smug and welcome in too many places.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:04 AM   2 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Billing Rape Victims And It's Negative Impact On Justice

From US News: Rape victims can be hurt financially too:

It's tough enough for rape victims to come forward. Now there's another reason for them to think twice about reporting the crime: They may get stuck with a hefty bill for the rape kit used to collect evidence against their attacker.

The story mentions several states including North Carolina in which rape victims can be stuck with a bill for evidence collection. A Raleigh News and Observer article which highlighted a cap in what the state would pay resulted in a change in state policy. The cap in payment is gone, but the budget isn't any higher which leaves me with the question of what will happen when the yearly budget is exhausted.

What these gaps in payment do in many rape cases is help create a de facto statute of limitations that arrives within days. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard people say, "If she was really raped, she should have gotten a rape kit done."

What they really mean, and a few say, is: "If she was raped, she would have gotten a rape kit done." They don't know and don't care about why those who are really raped don't or can't get a rape kit done before the brief window of opportunity for collecting this evidence expires.

This attitude causes many rape cases without DNA evidence to be closed prematurely "due to lack of supporting evidence." Because of tight budgets and past jury bias, many police agencies and prosecutors offices may decide that certain types of rape cases without DNA evidence aren't worth pursuing.

To be in compliance with the Violence Against Women Act states are supposed to cover 100% of the cost of forensic medical exams, but this isn't happening in all states. The states that require rape victims to contact law enforcement within days after the exam for the forensic medical exam to be paid for are making a serious mistake which allows many serial rapists to get away with their crimes.

During my 9 plus years volunteering on my local rape crisis line, I've been with rape victims in the hospital who were in no shape to talk to anybody after the forensic medical exam and weren't likely to get there within 48 hours. I've also been with rape victims who were hyper alert and wanted to get everything -- including the police interview -- over with ASAP before they ran out of energy. Neither reaction is inherently good or bad and neither reaction indicates that someone is or is not a genuine rape victim.

I believe that the best solution is for all rape kits to be processed, and not held until the rape victim agrees to cooperate with a police investigation, so that multiple DNA hits are more quickly evident.

Now when a sex offender is caught and the police believe there are numerous other victims, they talk to the media and ask other victims to come forward even if they didn't originally report their rapes. This opens the door for defense attorneys to claim that this call by the police opens the door to false reports.

If all rape kits were processed and one rapist's DNA appeared in 2, 3 or more rape kits, that should trigger a coordinated investigation. If victims were contacted because there was a DNA hit, they might have less fear that working with the police will be traumatic and pointless.

Jurors may buy a rapist's lies that one woman consented when she didn't, but if a jury can be presented with multiple victims it is harder for even the most biased jury to be conned into believing that the victims are lying or delusional. Of course this is one of the reasons that a defense attorney would want each instance to be a separate trial and would want to prevent the jury from knowing about the other reports.

Even if a rapist had to be tried separately for each victim, when the police and the prosecutor know they are dealing with a serial rapist they may be less likely to shelve these cases.

Since many rapists understand how the system works and adjust their crimes accordingly this change might serve as a deterrent to at least some rapists and would-be rapists. A lack of a newspaper story about a reported rape wouldn't indicate that no rape kit with their DNA was about to be processed by a crime lab.

Because non-stranger rapes are among the most under reported and these rapists know this these cases provide a great opportunity for law enforcement. While a DNA match from an acquaintance rape where a conviction is iffy at best because the defendant will claim consent these rape kits may help identify unknown DNA in a stranger rape case where no jury could possibly assume that the victim consented. This identification could also help identify those who committed serious non-sex crimes where unknown DNA from the criminal is found.

Those who only think about one particular case or who have a bias against those who report rape may wrongly view the paying for all forensic evidence exams as a waste of money. It doesn't have to be that way.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:39 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Steve Wright Convicted Of 5 Ipswich Murders And The Changing Assumptions About Who Is Bad

From the Guardian UK:

Tracey [Russell] and her best friend Annette Nicholls had agreed, after the first women went missing, only to go with regulars, but Steve Wright was someone they both knew well; Tracey had had sex with him several times in the three years he had been using Ipswich prostitutes - not a matter of weeks, as he testified in court.

These women in England made the same assumptions that so many people around the world make, that men who pay for sex and who look normal are decent people not interested in harming anyone. If these men are doing anything wrong it is having pre-marital or extra-marital sex. Russell lived to testify at the trial, but her friend did not and was one of Wright's murder victims.

I'm not including women who pay for sex in these assumptions because I often see a different -- harsher -- response when the person paying to use another human being is a woman.

When it comes to this case and others where the police say the motive is unknown, I disagree. I don't think the motive is unknown, just unproven. Look at the common attitudes people express when they learn that a brutally murdered woman was someone known or suspected of having been paid to have sex.

I've heard "good riddance" and "no great loss" from people who claim to be absolutely anti-murder. This vengeful or dismissive attitude which makes some people disposable objects disproves these people's official stance on murder. Once a human being becomes a disposable object, you have a motive for murder which doesn't conflict with someone viewing themselves as a decent human being.

It sounds like all or most of the murdered women were addicted to drugs and had other serious issues, but the same attitudes which made them the most acceptable murder victims makes too many people resist supporting providing serious assistance to these women.

Their life, she said, was "horrible". "You learn to blank it out over the years, and because you are on drugs, [you] just think of something else. I know that sounds odd, but you do. 'Cos you get used to it, and it's over within seconds. Hopefully."

Shortly after Annette was confirmed dead, and with the help of a methadone prescription, Tracey stopped selling sex and using heroin, after six years on the game. [...]

For the past 14 months the quiet success of those working to help women off the streets of Ipswich has continued. [...] "We have to recognise that prior to the murders there were scant resources put into this area. I have worked in drugs for 16 years and I think [sex workers] are the most difficult and damaged clientele I have ever worked with. That needs resources." [from Brian Tobin, director of Iceni, a small drugs charity]

This doesn't match the fantasy held by those who view the prostituted as morally bankrupt and deserving of punishment. Too many people would rather see these women die than get effective and systematic assistance.

We see this dehumanization when people talk about rape of the prostituted as nothing more than theft. Human beings. Can of beans. Those who can find a way to see no significant difference are very dangerous -- either directly or indirectly through their support of the violent.

When a serial killer suddenly switches from murdering the prostituted to the non-prostituted then the uncaring suddenly become caring and determined that the police catch the monster -- before another innocent life is lost. The problem is that the previously uncaring contributed to the attitudes and actions which now has them shocked and disgusted. Once a person gets a taste for rape or for murder of those viewed as disposable, they can easily rationalize that others too deserve to be attacked.

This is why those who talk about girls or woman asking for it or wearing a virtual "rape me" sign need to be viewed as contributors to serious crime rather than viewing them as people seriously trying to prevent crime as they claim to be when they are challenged.

What has always bothered me about these contrasting assumptions is that those who pay for sex are by the very nature of the interaction selfish, insensitive and uncaring about others. They may ask for feedback from those they pay to have sex with, but questions such as "was it good for you?" are not genuine inquiries and are instead requests for ego stroking.

When men use brothels with security measures and surveillance systems better than most jails, they don't care that these security systems also keep the prostituted under tight control. If those locked inside look and behave the way he wants them to that's all that matters. Those who can't avoid thinking about the meaning of tight security likely comfort themselves by viewing this security as protecting the prostituted from the cops.

The same level of uncaring goes for those who look to pay for sex from those walking down the street. There is no concern about that girl or woman beyond the moment. If she isn't being followed by an armed guard then she isn't being exploited by anyone.

John schools for those caught trying to pay for sex were created to break this selfish illusion and they have succeeded at getting through to at least some of those who attend. But most who pay for sex never attend a John school and I doubt any sex education they've had included this view into the harsh reality of those who are prostituted.

I've lost count of the number of people who talk about children who have been prostituted using derogatory words and when someone is accused of raping a child who has been exploited previously I often hear people talking about the alleged victim being no innocent child.

Being the 100th man to sexually exploit a child who has built up a protective shell doesn't make that man any better than the 1st man to sexually exploit that child. The only difference is in the ease of rationalizations -- from the criminal and the public.

If that exploited child grows up to be a drug addicted woman who is paid for sex, too many people simply don't care.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:07 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hospitalized Woman Recants Rape Report In Korea

From the Stars and Stripes story about a South Korean woman who recanted an allegation of rape against a US airman:

The woman reported the rape early Wednesday morning, after she came home, began bleeding from the pubic area and lost consciousness, Yoon said.

The woman’s mother called an ambulance, and during the ride to the hospital, the daughter regained consciousness and asked why she was going to the hospital. When her mother described her symptoms, the daughter said she had been raped because she was afraid of being chastised, the spokesman said.

Since the alleged rape victim later told investigators that she had previous consensual sex with the man who -- unquestionably -- left her in a condition where she was bleeding and unable to remain conscious, it sounds to me like agreeing to meet a man who turns sexually violent could become proof of a lie when it is no such thing.

The problem is that some people do rape the willing. Rape is at its heart about violence and an utter disregard for others. If the accused soldier's actions caused this woman pain or injury and he refused to stop until he got what he wanted then, yes, he would be a rapist even if the woman was initially consenting.

The woman is still in the hospital and an unnamed spokesperson claims this woman has had these symptoms before. I'm bothered by this quick disregard for this woman's condition and the quick dismissal of the possibility that this woman's symptoms could have been caused or re-triggered by sexual violence.

If this woman has been in medical distress since she told her mother she was raped, she would also be easier to pressure to tell investigators what they wanted to hear whether it was the truth or not. She was interviewed at least twice while hospitalized, but there is no mention of the length of these interviews or the woman's level of pain or consciousness.

I'm bothered that the Stars and Stripes points out the initial unproven conclusion that this woman was raped, but is then willing with little more evidence, to state flat out that this was a fabricated rape.

That the rape was nothing more than a fabrication is the allegation, but like rape allegations it has not been proven. Getting a hospitalized woman to recant is not proof that this woman wasn't the victim of sexual violence.

The handling of this case and this alleged rape victim raises serious ethical questions that many people will choose to ignore because the official position of "fabricated rape" is so nice and tidy.

I wonder how many people would find this case so tidy if the US airman confessed to rape during a second police interview while in the hospital for unknown reasons.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just Another Liar Filing A False Rape Report?

From PI Now:

A judge has ordered 49-year-old Gregory Walker, of Kissimmee, Fla., held in the Centre County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail. He was arraigned Tuesday on charges including stalking, harassment, retaliation and false reports.

The false report charge was for an alleged rape that never happened according to the police. The man he allegedly falsely accused was a Pennsylvania state trooper, Shawn Inlow, who helped investigate a sex crime charge against Walker's son who is now serving a sentence for that charge.

Those who delight in hearing that police believe that a rape allegation is false aren't likely to focus on this case since the alleged false reporter is a man and not a woman.

Too often the truly innocent who are accused of rape -- either mistakenly or maliciously -- don't seem to be genuinely important to the "women lie about rape" pundits and their followers for any reason other than as tools which can be used to attack girls and women who report being raped.

It's amazing how quickly the motto of "innocent until proven guilty" gets dropped when the accused is a woman who reported rape. For too many people men charged with rape are alleged rapists. And women charged with lying about being raped are false accusers not alleged false accusers.

Those who rush to scream "false accuser" reduce the credibility of those who are truly falsely accused or who support those who are truly falsely accused. After someone has been exonerated and there is more than a lack of linking DNA evidence behind that exoneration these people will keep repeating that the exonerated man always claimed to be innocent -- as if this is proof of anything or unique to the truly innocent.

Psychopaths guilty of horrific crimes can and have also proclaimed their innocence and if it weren't for the evidence many of these people would be convincing because they seem so incapable of the crimes they committed. Then there are people who seem like the type of people who would commit the crimes they are accused of but who didn't commit that crime.

That's why effective investigations which protect all of the evidence are so important. It's also why verdicts based on people's bigotry -- despite contradictory evidence -- are so destructive. This is true whether the bigotry leads to an acquittal or a conviction.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:01 AM   4 comments links to this post

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Behind The Complaints About Male Bashing And Man Hating

This is the next in the series which began with Behind the complaint about victims not avoiding danger.

One of the first things I notice in those who claim I or others who are concerned about violence against women are male bashers is the patronizing tone in their complaint. Don't think you hate men simply because you hate violence which is mostly committed by men against women? Well, these people will inform you that you do indeed hate men.

If you don't realize this then you are completely out of touch with reality.

If you called them on their words or their behavior the only possible explanation for your calling them out is that you hate men. After all, they are squarely in the right in their attitudes about women and their attitudes about violence against women. So when you challenge what they "know" is absolutely right, it must be you who is stupid or hateful.

Noteably men who seek out women to rape or to harass or to insult are not women bashers and are not women haters. It doesn't matter if they read their own words with the genders reversed that they would see that as proof of man hating.

Women's opposition to rape supportive attitudes and legal rulings gets spun into mental instability. Being vocally anti-rape indicates that the woman is in desperate need of therapy since she has unresolved issues. Apparently all mentally stable women are fine with men who blame most rape victims and are fine with non-stranger serial rapists getting away with rape since only random stranger rape is beyond the victim's control.

Women who say there is no excuse for rape and that nothing a woman does is like wearing a "rape me" sign are refusing to hold women personally accountable and they want the men they hate to coddle women. If these women also want equality then they are illogical because they want mutually exclusive actions from men.

But what is this coddling that women who hate men want? Not to be raped. Not to be abused.

Women in short skirts who aren't raped by the men around them are being coddled and if they like this lack of rape then they are willingly giving up their equality.

Wanting to reduce the rate of violence against women is repackaged into wanting special treatment so women don't have to protect themselves by following the advice of patronizing men.

I guess banks that want the police and the public to help reduce the number of armed robberies and want help catching bank robbers want special treatment so they don't have to protect themselves. Why should banks get special treatment? Haven't they heard of personal and corporate responsibility?

This typical attitude used against women makes no sense when applied to banks. If banks had to follow the type of crime prevention advice given to women, there would be bullet-proof glass in all banks separating bank employees from the public. Any bank where a customer could shoot an employee is "asking" for it and should be held personally responsible if that bank is robbed.

Rapists are often described by these people as men getting their sexual needs met yet these men would never describe bank robbers as people getting their financial needs met. My viewing rapists as people who choose to be violent rather than people seeking to get their sexual needs met falls flat with these people.

It's harder to make excuses for the violent than it is to make excuses for the needy. The victim-blaming advice is predicated on the acceptance that rape comes from a man's base needs or instincts -- which he has little or no control over -- rather than coming from the rapist's thinking and disregard for others.

Men are turned by these people into creatures as dangerous as the lion in the zoo. Rapists get treated as a distinct biological subgroup of men. The untamed male. Walk too close and you'll be dinner with no criminal intent by the rapist.

Like I've said before, the major flaw in this argument is that this approach supports lifetime sentences for all rapists since their crime is beyond their control. Like the lion in the zoo the only solution is lifetime containment.

Yet those who accuse women of being man haters demand that women be the ones who are contained in the name of rape prevention and gender equality. Doesn't sound like they support equality except when it benefits them.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:59 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If Sexism Is Carefully Packaged Does It Cease To Exist?

Here's a statement made by Barack Obama (from Yahoo News):

"I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal."

Ann at Feministing doesn't believe this statement which evokes stereotypes about women's moods is as bad as the "Iron my shirt" shouts from protesters because it isn't necessarily planned sexism, but I disagree because those over-the-top protests are less insideous than comments like this which use the power of implication to say something while allowing the speaker of that statement to have plausible deniability.

All the benefits of sexism. None of the accountability.

Women often see this in rape threats that carefully exclude the word rape so the person can claim that the object of the threat is overreacting or delusional or crazy. Women who report these threats to the police often get told there was no rape threat. If we excuse what is implied in statements such as this one made by Obama then we are supporting the making of excuses when what is implied is criminal and clearly threatening.

Negative ads about a candidate are not unique to Hillary Clinton. They are used frequently because political experts believe they work. So why would any logical person assume that these types of ads from a political rival have anything to do with the other candidate's personal mood?

It simply doesn't compute. But like the original Swift Boat ads against John Kerry, accuracy often comes second to success. When a politician can meld routine events with widespread bias against women -- especially when they are in positions of power -- to elicit negative feelings about that rival candidate, too many will do so. Obama has promised to not practice politics as usual, but this is a breach of promise.

Obama's statement is a backhanded and deniable claim that Hillary Clinton is one of "those moody women who isn't trustworthy during certain times of the month."

The proof for me is that the wording of this statement is in no way gender neutral. For someone who has been described as a master speaker using the word "periodically" cannot be viewed as anything other than intentional and filled with sexist induendo.

If I'm wrong and Obama didn't intend this to be a sexist jab then he is the one who launches attacks when he's feeling down over being the subject of negative ads. Notice how the same explanation has different connotations when applied to a man?

Intentional sexist jab or emotional outburst? Neither make him seem like someone who is both masterful and trustworthy. The fact that he is the least sexist man left in the presidential race doesn't make me stand and cheer.

This is about far more than feelings, it is about dismissing women. If Obama becomes president will he dismiss genuine grievances from women over his policies or his decisions because he characterizes them as "feeling down" that he beat out a woman to be president?

I don't know the answer to that question and that worries me. This statement isn't the only reason I have this concern. He dismissed what Hillary Clinton learned during President Clinton's administration by talking about "tea parties." which is a sexist dismissal of what women do when they get together in a social setting.

Correction: Here is what Obama said which evoked the notion of a Hillary Clinton doing nothing more substantial than having tea parties without having to say that explicitly or even to use the name of the person the jab was clearly directed at:

"It's that experience, that understanding, not just of what world leaders I went and talked to in the ambassadors house I had tea with, but understanding the lives of the people like my grandmother who lives in a tiny hut in Africa." (bolding mine)

Men network, women have tea parties.

Rather than being something new or bringing change to political debate this is the same old, same old. If I'm going to get same old, same old I'm not going to buy it from someone who denies that is what they are selling unless all the alternatives are clearly worse.

I've held my nose while voting before and I can do it again, but I would rather not do so.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:56 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, February 18, 2008

Victim Rights Rally In Seattle And Elsewhere Tomorrow


WHAT: Victim's Rights Rally

WHEN: Tuesday, February 19, Noon (Gather at 11:50am)

WHERE: King County Courthouse, 516 - 3rd Avenue, Seattle, WA (check link below for other locations)

WHY: Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime. Yet when survivors do report, often times they are re-victimized by the criminal justice system. This includes victim blaming, language restrictions, barring victim's testimony and prejudicial authorities.


Come with posters that display such sayings as:

Victims have a right to be believed. Victims have the right to a fair and speedy trial. Victims have a right to be respected.

HISTORY: A shocking decision was made by prosecutors in Nebraska who were unable to prosecute Pamir Safi after the Judge ruled out too much evidence to continue the case. The third trial was slated to begin February 19 against Safi who had been arrested for raping three women. One of these women was Tory Bowen whose case drew national attention after Judge Cheuvront barred her from using terms including rape, sexual assault, date rape drugs, and sexual assault nurse examiner in her testimony.

It is time for an even BIGGER and BOLDER presence to remind the courts that victims have rights too! Tory's case is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to injustice in the courtrooms that victims face every day. We will NOT TOLERATE THIS KIND OF TREATMENT ANY LONGER!

A note from Tory Bowen: It is time to take my case as a galvanizing moment - for victims should not be victims of the courts! The courts can not protect their states and citizens by executing 'justice' the way they did in my case. These things happen every day. It is up to us to let the courts know, that we won't take it anymore.Thank you for your participation! Together we WILL make a difference.

You can also email them: Info at PavingTheWay dot net

Shatter the Silence of Sexual Violence!

Hat tip: Allegory of the Cave

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:21 PM   2 comments links to this post

Secretly Recorded Video Confession Indicates That Natalie Holloway Was Drugged

From ABC News:

Medical experts tell ABC News that the description Joran van der Sloot gave of convulsions apparently experienced by Natalee Holloway on the night she disappeared could be consistent with the date rape drug GHB, and not simply alcohol intoxication.

This explanation for why Holloway would have convulsions directly contradicts van der Sloot's explanation that he was making up the whole story of what happened to Natalee Holloway to impress a friend as his lawyers have claimed.

Holloway's probable death (it seems unlikely that she is being held by human traffickers) and these alleged details are a reminder that those who use any substance on the unwilling are putting those people's lives at risk. In no way is spiking food or drink the act of someone innocently getting carried away. Exploiting others who have been drugged is not a less serious crime because the victim's memory of the crime may be spotty or absent. These are pre-meditated and cold-blooded criminal actions and should be viewed as such by the public and by the police.

Those who admonish people to lighten up about men who lack ethics in their dealings with women are admonishing people to lighten up about physical violence and even murder or manslaughter -- as long as the target of that violence is a girl or a woman. It's interesting -- and telling -- that this lighten up crowd are not equally light in their position about seemingly decent men accused of rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:44 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Serial Rapist And Murderer Or Just New Visibility?

From the AP:

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A 19-year-old college student missing since she was abducted nearly a month ago was strangled by a serial rapist who has attacked at least two other women and may strike again, Reno police said Saturday.

For too many people, they view Brianna Denison as an innocent victim only because she was sleeping in a friend's apartment when she was abducted by an unknown person. That is a dangerous mistake because Denison and the 2 surviving rape victims who have been linked via DNA aren't likely to be this man's first victims. He's estimated to be somewhere between 28 and 40 so it's likely that this man has been raping or attempting to rape for at least a decade. I would be shocked if he wasn't sexually violent during his college years or earlier.

For many predators they begin with more socially acceptable victims or they begin raping in situations where their crimes can be disguised as a misunderstanding. They begin where they know their victims are the least likely to report being raped to the police or are least likely to have any report taken seriously. Getting away with rape is a huge payoff for rapists and if these people find members of the public siding with them against a rape victim either because she is labeled as asking for it or because she is called a liar, the payoff is even greater.

The police are likely right that many people would not be able to believe that this rapist and murderer is capable of these crimes, but I suspect for a long line of women -- once this man's identity and picture are released -- that there will be nothing shocking about his latest crimes except for his abandon of all pretense during his attacks.

A man who can abduct and strangle a woman learns to be that type of person. If we are truly against rape, we cannot afford to dismiss any rapes or any attempted rapes. Those who do so because they believe the victim did something stupid or sent a consenting vibe are contributors to horrific violence such as this young woman's murder.

If you cherry pick which rape and abduction victims are truly innocent victims, you are placing targets on some people's backs. Unfortunately, those who want an excuse to be violent are listening and getting the justification they want for their actions in the words of too many self-confessed "good" people.

We as a society need to stop giving any rapists the justifications they crave.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:15 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Reason Statute Of Limitations On Rape Are A Problem


Former Yakima School of Karate instructor Paul Daniel Barr was back in court Friday to get 3 out of the 5 counts revised. According to prosecutors, the statute of limitations for two counts of child rape and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor had run out. The law provides that an alleged victim must report the crime within a certain amount of time after the incident or just a couple years after the reporting party turns 18-years-old.

Barr will instead be charged with indecent liberties and two counts of voyeurism. He still faces life in prison if found guilty because two of the original child rape charges for one victim has not changed.

The Washington state statute of limitations for rape which still includes a provision that rapes of adults and most teenages must be reported within 1 year needs to be eliminated. There are many situations where teens and adults do not feel safe reporting rape within that first year. This requirements allows rapists in Washington state to breathe a sigh of relief one year and one day after rape and effectively reduces the statute of limitations to one year for many rapes including my own.

That is unacceptable.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:58 PM   6 comments links to this post

Friday, February 15, 2008

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 41

Welcome to the Feb. 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:


In Running for President While Female 3 posted at Women's Space/The Margins, we get a discussion of a 1997 cartoon that reflects current attitudes.

In Behind The Complaints About Uppity And Passive Women posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the conflicting stereotypes about women that are often used together to put women into no-win situations.


In Lotto Fever For Sex Offenders In Massachusetts posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get a discussion of a sex offender who won $10 million and then got in trouble for not notifying Connecticut authorities that he moved out of state.

In Big AWA Decision in Oklahoma posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of the decision in US v. Dowell which is the first completed hearing under the "sexually dangerous person" provisions of the Adam Walsh Act.

In Evidence And Ethics 4: Professor Orenstein's Special Issues Raised by Rape Trials posted at EvidenceProf Blog, we get a discussion about an article by Indiana University School of Law Professor Aviva Orenstein about ethical challenges in rape trials.

In Blaming Victims posted at Searching for Crabshells, we get a discussion about reactions to a case where 80 men groped 2 women and how automatic it is for people to view the victims as being the ones responsible and how surprising it can be when people don't fall into this trap. This goes beyond general attitudes and includes how families of those accused respond to the charges.

In Sheriff's Deputies Sexually Assault Woman On Camera posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of the treatment of a crime victim which has resulted in a lawsuit filed by the victim against law enforcement.

In Warning: It’s Only Sexual Assault if He Succeeds in Getting a Blowjob posted at Menstrual Poetry, we get a discussion of the trial of Jackson County Commissioner Mike Brown who has been found not guilty of criminal sexual conduct at least in part because he did not succeed in his attempt to force the sexual contact he wanted.

In The Justice System Condones Sexual Assault Once Again posted at Feminists To The Rescue, we get another discussion of the trial of County Commissioner Mike Brown and how too many people dismiss admissions of force because the person charged doesn't fit stereotypes of who rapists are.

In In a rape culture, the man is never to blame posted at The Curvature, we get another take on the Mike Brown trial where attempted sexual assault gets turned into nothing more than bad judgment.

In UW Must Defend its Handling of Student Rape by Football Player posted at Title IX Blog, we get a discussion about the decision by the Washington State Court of Appeals which reinstated a Title IX case against the University of Washington over the handling of a rape case against a UW football player.

media watch

In "The Greatest Silence" - DRC Documentary Wins at Sundance posted at The Blackbird Whistling or Just After, we get information about a documentary about violence against women in the Congo.

In The Gray Rape of Excuses For The Hapless Rapists posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss an article by a college woman that puts the blame for most on-campus rapes on the victim by creating a scenario where a college rapist becomes the hapless victim of a sexy woman who changes her mind.

In For the Love of the Game: Covering Up Rape to Win the Rose Bowl posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion about the Seattle Times story about the University of Washington's handling of players in the months leading up to a Rose Bowl win.

personal stories

In Healing posted at Searching for Crabshells, we get a discussion about advice about how to heal and the uncertainty that so many people have about whether they are healing in the right way.

raising awareness

In CALL TO ACTION posted at ~Enola~, we get information about proposed cuts to US federal funding for victims and a call for everyone who opposes these cuts to contact their representatives.

In Chilling posted at Crisis Worker Diary, we get a discussion of our society's failure to respond adequately to sexual violence especially that committed against native women.

In Traveling (Solo) Safely posted at Less Than a Shoestring, we get a discussion about how to enjoy traveling by yourself while keeping safety in mind which includes the tip to take pictures of the people around you and a reminder that men who travel alone aren't necessarily any less at risk of becoming a crime victim than women are.

In The Sharia Council of Britain? Give me a break! posted at Glob-a-log, we get a discussion of a 15 year old girl who was tricked into marriage and then forced into prostitution and the responses to this case.

In Rape posted at Feminist Fire, we get a discussion about the definition of rape and how definitions which are broader than any definition which can be applied in criminal statutes are often misused to discredit feminists.

In In support of the Sex Workers Art Show Tour at Duke posted at Sexual Embodiment, we get a discussion of an educational program which sought to humanize those who are often dehumanized and demeaned and we get a discussion of how those who demean sex workers and label themselves as ethical often feel free to ignore clearly stated rules and boundaries.

In Pattern Of Calling Victims Stupid Puts Lives In Danger posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a situation where a woman in a burning car was afraid that her rescuer was trying to hurt and how an emphasis on stupid victims causes women to wrongly assume the worst in a crisis situation.


In Poine, The Erinyes and Nemesis posted at Dealing With Healing, we get a discussion of the mythology of angry goddesses and how recovering from violence often brings vengeful thoughts and dreams.

In Mixed Emotions Keep The Hurt Alive---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 6 posted at Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker, we get a discussion about how the emotions that a survivor feels about and toward her abusers can often keep her/him stuck in the pain and the abuse.


In When Sex and Violence Go Bad posted at Woman Remodeled, we get a discussion about whether we are being proactive enough in fighting rape and what being proactive really means.

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 Feb. 27 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Mar. 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,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:06 AM   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Katie Couric Misses Opportunity During Clinton Interview

In an interview with Hillary Clinton broadcast on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric missed a great opportunity to show how high school taunting meant to undermine girls reflects on the lack of ethics of those who resort to labeling. Make no mistake, the boys (and possibly girls) who labeled her Miss Frigidaire also gave negative one-dimensional labels to girls who were nothing like Hillary.

Instead of highlighting the cruelty of bullies and showing that despite bullying, smart girls can turn into smart and successful women, Couric seemed to want to turn the high school Hillary Rodham into nothing more than the slur used against her.

That's sad and it's lazy and it reinforces the tactics of those who never outgrew spiteful labeling. When I see adults use or accept derogatory labels against women like Clinton the only people they are making me dislike is them.

Girls who pay careful attention in class and who participate fully have unfortunately been turned by Couric into girls who are doing something wrong or hateful. That is a disservice to all girls and it sends the wrong message to bullies who don't pay attention in class and who don't participate and who then -- surprise, surprise -- get lower grades than the girls they taunt.

Blaming those who do the work to the best of their ability is far easier than taking responsibility for not doing the same. Couric should have learned this lesson from the attacks directed at her when she moved to CBS which came from people who couldn't do any portion of the work she has done.

Here's the video:

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:18 AM   3 comments links to this post

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Is Homeland Security Only Important When Violence Committed By Non US Citizens?

From President George W. Bush's proposed budget for fiscal year 2009, I would have to say the answer is yes. Terrorism and murder committed by foreigners (Muslim or Hispanic mostly according to the rhetoric) is bad and must be fought fully no matter the cost.

Terrorism and murder committed by one US citizen against another? Not so much if general crime prevention funding is our metric. Terrorism and murder committed against women by men who are US citizens? I'll let information about the proposed budget answer this question for me.

Thanks to the Family Violence Prevention Fund for highlighting these budget items.

First a quick and clearly incomplete comparison. According to Dept. of Justice statistics there were on average more than 3 women murdered per day by their husbands or boyfriends in 2005. If those numbers hold steady for 2002 through 2007 that is over 6500 women who have been murdered since the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 which killed approximately 3000. If we add in the number of children who have been murdered by fathers or stepfathers, the non-foreign terrorist death toll goes up even more. This doesn't count the violence by US citizens who decide to go to a local mall and open fire.

Those who are terrorized or murdered by US citizens shouldn't be less important to our legislators than those terrorized or murdered by non-US citizens who kill out of a general hatred for what the US symbolizes to them. Just because it is easier for politicians and citizens to demonize non-US citizens whose first language is different from ours doesn't make this demonization right. It also doesn't make this demonization accurate or effective at violence prevention.

The whole process of demonization is counterproductive since it surrenders all attempts to understand the process of how and why people turn violent. This makes fortification our only viable prevention strategy when it may be our weakest defense.

For those who think a focus on combatting sexual and domestic violence hurts men they should know that the rate of men being murdered by intimate partners has dropped by 75% between 1976 and 2005 (1304 to 329) while the rate of women murdered by intimate partners has dropped by just over 25% (1587 to 1181) between 1976 and 2005. Going back to 1976 murder rates will have a much more negative impact on men than it will on women.

For those who insist that this comparison is meaningless then you also should ignore cuts and shortfalls in highway funding until a major bridge in your area collapses. Every time you go over a bridge you are relying on the government to take care of you. If local, state and federal budgets are skewed toward defense and homeland security you may find that you can no longer take it for granted that the bridges you drive over are safe.

This singleminded focus also has an impact on FDA food inspectors but somehow people dying of food poisoning doesn't have the same emotional kick as people dying from a high profile terrorist attack.

I've lost count of the number of times when the defense budget is defended because there have been no more terrorist attacks on US soil. The message is that when US lives are at stake, we must spend all the money needed to protect US citizens even if the US deficit goes up to record levels. Yet this administration's imperative to protect US lives at all costs is very selective.

Washington, D.C. - President Bush's FY09 budget proposal, released last week, asks Congress to slash funding for U.S. Department of Justice programs that address and prevent gender-based violence by more than $100 million. President Bush's proposal also would turn all funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into a block, or consolidated, grant. [...]

"This budget is irresponsible and could put the lives of women and children at risk," said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. "VAWA has dramatically improved our nation's response to violence against women and their families. We need to continue and enhance that work. We will ask Members of Congress to reject this proposal and maintain our nation's commitment to the groundbreaking violence prevention programs that were funded for the first time last year."

One of those on the not so important list is Aliya Blanchard who was 12 days old when she died. The initial reports show that she had injuries consistant with shaken baby syndrome and her father, an Iowa citizen, has been arrested in connection with her death.

Better prevention programs are needed across the country so parents and others who are around babies know how easily a child be injured and so they have resources to help them be safe parents. Those who are opposed to funding these types of programs because they characterize them as facilitating the hatred of men and fathers are willing to sacrifice children like Aliya. That in no way is a pro-man position.

Her life and her death matters to me and it should matter to politicians as they make budget decisions. We are not powerless to prevent similar deaths unless we choose to be.

How can anyone be safe in their homeland if they are not safe in their own home?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:39 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Carnival Nominations Needed

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.

For some reason I'm low in nominations for all categories so please help pass the word to all those who may have written on this topic lately. I'm sure there are relevant posts by bloggers who haven't yet been included in this carnival. This is also a good time to nominate posts written before this month which didn't get into any of the previous carnival editions.

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) with a subject line of carnival nomination or leave a comment with a link to the nominated post as soon as possible.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:48 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, February 11, 2008

CDC Report On Intimate Partner Violence Good Sign Even Though Violence Common

This study on intimate partner violence done by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will unfortunately be dismissed by those who simply don't want to have it be widely accepted that 23.6 percent of women have experienced intimate partner violence -- which includes sexual and non-sexual violence -- at some point in their life.

Many of these people will call reports like this part of a feminist lie. I don't call all of these people disbelievers because too many of them quickly resort to victim blaming which is a backhanded acknowledgment of this violence. If there is no violence then the victim of that violence cannot be at fault. Rampant victim blaming needs to be rightfully seen as evidence that these numbers are not too high.

Their resistance to acknowledging the scope of the problem and their resistance to assigning responsibility for violence onto the violent are huge parts of what keeps this violence going and what stigmatizes victims into unnecessary silence. Revictimization is as real as intimate partner violence and has a direct negative impact on those who have been hurt and by its cumulative effect it has a huge negative impact on public safety.

For too many people the existence of an ongoing personal relationship nullifies legal accountability for acts of violence. This is not only harmful to others, it can easily become harmful to those who want accountability nullified because being dismissive of violence isn't an effective defense against that type of violence. In fact that denial can cause people to willingly go into relationships with people who have exhibited signs of violence or who have been reported to be violent within relationships.

Can anyone imagine going for medical treatment and having the doctor glance at a person with a broken bone and then denying that the bone is broken because they don't immediately see proof of a broken bone? We understand that not all broken bones can be detected with a glance. Too often medical responders who would never dismiss the pain of someone who reported falling out of a tree as fake will be quick to dismiss the report of those who have suffered violence from an intimate partner.

Those who chant, "women lie about rape" and "women lie about abuse" want all responders to let these chants trump professionalism so they will treat most victims of real violence dismissively and strive to be like the doctor who doesn't bother with an x-ray because one glance proved that no bones were broken. Too many responders give the violence deniers exactly what they want. Sloppiness.

If these deniers then latch onto the 11.5 percent of men who reported having been the victim of intimate partner violence that tells me that they only care about violence when men are victims -- or as I see more often --- they don't really care about men who are victims but use those men as a weapon to fight against doing serious and effective violence prevention work. Victim blaming is neither serious nor effective prevention work.

What I find encouraging is that intimate partner violence is starting to be viewed as a public health issue. Understanding different aspects of the problem in a systematic way is an important step toward building more effective responses.

The CDC study also shows that intimate partner violence has serious health effects for the victim. This is something I already knew empirically, but this study shows that the impact is systematic rather than a consequence of a few people with bad coping skills who failed to "get over it already."

Some of the common behaviors of those who have been victims have traditionally been viewed as reasons to condemn people as immoral. This condemnation might might the lecturer feel better but it is counterproductive.

In the UK it was reported that more than a quarter of girls in grade 11 were pressed into sexual activity they didn't want to do. This means that there is a high tolerance for boys who try or succeed at coercing girls into unwanted sexual contact.

Solutions that only focus on strengthening girl's resistance to coercion miss the source of the problem and leave that problem in place. That makes as much sense as leaving sink holes and potholes in place and dealing with these hazards by doing nothing more than telling drivers to stay alert.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:46 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kirkwood MO City Council Shooting Like Domestic Violence

When I heard about the shooting rampage in Kirkwood, Missouri where 5 people were murdered and several more were injured at the city council meeting before Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton was fatally shot by police and I learned that Thornton felt victimized by city officials, I was reminded of the dynamics in so many domestic violence murder/suicides.

One of the key similarities is in Thornton's reported suicide note which said something to the effect of "the truth will come out" which shows that his thinking was so distorted that he assumed that when the violence was over everyone would take his side and see that he was the only true victim. I've seen this in family murder/suicides and unfortunately too many people do assume that the victims drove the murderer over the edge.

The only cases where this is even a possibility is where the person who killed was trapped by extreme violence. This wasn't the case in Kirkwood and it isn't the case in most spousal murder/suicides.

Some of these people mimic the distortion of the murderer -- wives as thieving gold diggers for example -- while others want the illusion of safety by telling themselves that they would never drive someone in their life to murder them.

Whether city officials always treated Thornton fairly is unknown, but even if they did treat him worse than others in that city, in no way was his violence an act of justice. The just penalty for too many parking tickets and too few city contracts and being wrongly arrested for disorderly conduct is not death. When his federal lawsuit against the city was thrown out this act of violence was not his only remaining option.

You don't prove your innocence through a spree killing.

Those who commit these horrific acts of violence wrongly limit themselves and others so that violence seems more sensible than it really is. All those involved become one-dimensional. Those shot by Thornton were not viewed by him as being fully human so it became easier for him to shoot people to death one by one and then continue on until he was stopped by an outside force. From the note he left, he wasn't planning on living to face the consequences of his decisions.

This disortion preceeding violence is where so many men decide that it is okay to shoot their wives or their girlfriends or their exes. Those who think that these types of people are only a danger to immediate family and therefore it is a private family matter have it dead wrong. This distortion happens in non-family relationships such as employment relationships and as the shooting in Kirkwood shows this distortion can happen anywhere people interact.

In a small town near where I live a man murdered his wife and stepdaughters after being accused of sexually abusing the girls and he made similar statements about the truth before killing himself. Like Thornton, this man was sane. Getting so caught up in a grudge or a feeling of resentment that murder/suicide seems like the logical next step is not insanity, it is a shortsighted sanity.

The possible ways to make yourself look right or innocent does not include committing cold-blooded murder. I believe that more men commit these types of crimes by a wide margin than women because men are frequently encouraged to have a more brittle, less empathetic view of the world. This doesn't make men hapless victims in these sorts of crimes, they had choices and with the help of how they think and feel, they made violent choices.

I suspect that in these murder/suicides that the victim or victims become representative of every slight or wrong in the murderer's life. The victim ends up taking the fall for pent up feelings about people like a 4th grade bully.

If we are trying to be supportive of someone we know who feels wronged, we need to be careful that we aren't being supportive of one-dimensional thinking or the channelling of cumulative rage. All of us will be wronged by someone in our life. Most of us never decide that the way to respond is with murder.

We do need to think about how we can help defuse that dangerous thinking pattern before it escalates to murder. However, those who are the potential victims will likely have the lowest chance of success at getting through to people like this because they have been placed in a mental cubbyhole as the "enemy" and once that happens everything that person does is suspect even when they are trying to be reasonable and kind.

Too often those who are at risk of being murdered are given the greatest responsibility for the actions taken against them. We must remember that the response is not caused by the stimulus. The response is caused by how someone thinks about the stimulus. Someone who is not linked to that stimulus will have a much better chance at helping the potentially violent person start seeing the situation in a less distorted way.

When people talk about this case, they are likely sending a message to those who are potentially violent so it is important for each of us to think about how others will take our words.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:58 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Victim Blaming Sinks To A New Low

In a murder case what's a "good" defense attorney to do when he doesn't have a chance of raising reasonable doubt about who killed the victim? Raise the level of victim blaming to new heights.

The aggressive former prosecutor, Jeffrey Schwartz, has portrayed the mother as the real killer, calling her a "monster" and mocking her as "Mommy Dearest." He has also labeled Nixzmary [Brown] a violent and uncontrollable "little Houdini" — a reference to her supposed knack at slipping out of the makeshift restraints devised by her parents to keep her from attacking her younger siblings.

The huge flaw in this defense of Cesar Rodriguez is that he always had the power to leave his "monster" wife and this "uncontrollable" stepchild. This defense asks the jury to buy this man's rationalizations for systematic child abuse and then murder. This attorney wants the jury to believe that some victims are born asking for it and that some criminals are the only true victims.

This Brooklyn, New York case is extreme, but this defense strategy is in no way unique except that the nasty non-victim who drove a hapless man's actions didn't live. Those who are sickened by this type of defense need to reject it even when the victim hasn't been murdered.

The defense attorney wants the jury to forget that this man made the decision to become his stepdaughter's prison guard and he made the decision to use abusive tactics. This child might have been genuinely rebellious at times, but that in no way justified the choice of solution. Plenty of children have tantrums at some point and plenty of children are mean to siblings at some point. These actions are not the cause of child abuse or child murder. They are nothing more than excuses.

This girl was 7 years old when she was killed but even if she didn't weigh only 36 pounds when she was murdered, none of her actions justify what was done to her. She was effectively being starved when she "stole" yogurt and was punished for this "crime" with a blow to the head.

Anyone who can rationalize what was done to Nixzmary Brown must be viewed as an untrustworthy person even if they didn't commit these acts. We won't know until it is too late what stimulus will give them the internal okay commit horrific acts of violence and to view those acts as justified.

The upcoming trial of the mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, will hopefully determine whether she is guilty of abusing her daughter and whether she didn't protect her daughter from an abusive stepfather out of neglect or fear. If she was also an abuser, she should be held legally accountable.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:59 AM   1 comments links to this post