From Metro West Daily:
ASHLAND [MA] — Sexual assault can mark the start of a different attack for teens - a battle with rumors, vilification and online harassment from peers.
One local mother says after her daughter was raped, she struggled with false gossip about the assault. Behind the anonymity of the Internet, others hurled names and accusations.
"It's the assault after the rape that became the most devastating," said the mother, who spoke with the Daily News on the condition she and her daughter aren't identified.
Teens who are sexually assaulted are too often verbally attacked by peers, said Rachel Singer, a counselor and community prevention educator at Voices Against Violence.
"It's definitely more widespread than I'd like to admit," said Singer. "Part of the reason why the majority of victims don't report sexual assaults is because of all that - because of the response of society in general, but also the personal response of their friends, their peers."
I believe most of those who harass teen rape victims justify their actions by their assumption that the allegation is a false one. Once these people (teens and/or adults) cross a line where they would be ashamed of their actions if they realized they were making false accusations against a real crime victim these people will need to stick to their rape denial no matter what the evidence shows.
If the case ends with no charges or no conviction, or if this harassment is so great that a real rape victim recants or stops cooperating, these people can wrongly claim that their assumptions have been proven to be true when they have not.
This hostility would get worse if those who report having been raped had their names published. Those who advocate publishing the names of rape victims often claim that the current rules are there only because rape victims feel ashamed. They also claim that rape victims who don't have their names published face none of the hostility that those accused of rape face.
This article highlights how wrong that claim is. It also highlights that the reason for privacy rules is about far more than shame.
Once a rape victim is labeled as a false accuser that person is more vulnerable to being raped again by someone who assumes that this rape victim has lost all credibility and will be treated as a serial false accuser.
The hostility rape victims face can go beyond slandering the alleged rape victim. It can turn into witness tampering and physical violence from people who claim to be against both "real" rape and false allegations. These people's actions disprove both of their claims.
Singer will be the keynote speaker at a forum about dating problems and sexual assault for parents sponsored by Ashland Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. This type of forum is important not only for parents of girls it is important for parents of boys who may believe dangerous myths about where the line is between legal and illegal sexual activity.
As I highlighted in my series on genuine consent (pt 1, pt 2, pt 3) too many people believe that in a dating relationship the girl is legally responsible for clearly communicating her lack of consent and boys are not legally responsible for ensuring they have freely given consent, either across the board or conditionally.
This belief puts the burden for an action on the person not taking an action and opens the door for situations where the girl or woman gets raped but her rapist doesn't view what he did as rape.
Thankfully, one of the key issues which will be discussed at the Ashland forum is the lack of understanding about appropriate sexual boundaries. This is a huge contributor to sexual violence and especially to date rape and acquaintance rape.
If everyone who wants to take a sexual action will take personal responsibility for ensuring that the other person is genuinely consenting instead of relying on any sort of societal code for communicating consent then the number of rapes will plummet and the number of cases where a rape victim is accused of making a false accusation will also plummet.
This is more than a good ethical standard which cannot or should not be reflected in rape law. The required clarity of lack of consent can be impossibly high.
Also, often times "no means no" to a woman. A man can easily interpret "no" as "yes." He thinks she is just trying to show that she is not easy. Unfortunately, the trend in most states is that when a woman says no it means that consent to proceed has been withdrawn, even in the throes of great passion.
Yes, that's right. It's unfortunate that in most states when a woman doesn't consent that ignoring her communication means that what happens after that is non-consensual. What is truly unfortunate is that in some jurisdictions that the withdrawal of consent can be ignored. This makes rape conditionally legal in those jurisdictions.
Someone who assumes another person is consenting should never have legal consent unless that other person is freely consenting. The legal responsibility for avoiding misunderstandings related to consent and for non-freely given consent must belong solely to the person taking a particular action. If there is any ambiguity about consent or whether that consent was freely given then that means stop or no.
Stopping might be a bummer, but a rightful accusation of rape -- even when friends will rally behind the person who doesn't stop -- is a much bigger bummer.
Labels: Violence Against Women