It could be you
Rape. It can happen to any of us, regardless of gender, age, class, sexuality or ethnicity. Vanquishing the stigma surrounding rape feels very important at present. There are two vital things that anyone who has ever been raped should keep forever in mind.
1. What happened is not your fault.
2. Do not suffer alone.
Do not fear judgement, for you have done nothing wrong. Socially speaking, the subject of rape still remains a taboo subject across our communities. People often have opinions on the matter and sadly, there is a prevalence of stereotypes and outdated myths that seem to carry significant traction. We all know and have heard these stereotypical views before. The victim was in a relationship with the accused, therefore she/he could not have been raped. The victim had been drinking, therefore she/he could not have been raped. The victim was wearing revealing clothing, therefore he/she could not have been raped. What did they expect was going to happen?
The number of times I have heard people reflecting on their assault say the words ‘‘if only’’. ‘‘If only I had not gone out that night’’, ‘‘if only I had not agreed to go for that drink with him’’ or ‘‘if only I had not worn that red dress’’. ‘‘If only I had put up more of a fight’’ or ‘‘if only I had screamed louder’’.
Victims of rape often place the weight of the blame, the guilt and the shame upon their own shoulders. It is imperative that everyone remember, victims included, that what happened was beyond their control. That was precisely the point. Victims are attacked by predators who act with impunity and a complete lack of decency, respect or humanity. It is they that deserve judgement and never, ever the victim.
For the record
For some unfathomable reason, prevailing mythical judgements still seem to uphold the idea that maybe, just maybe ‘‘they were asking for it’’. This view of whether rape in certain cases was perhaps warranted is not only discriminatory, it is absurd, it is outdated and it needs to be overhauled with immediate effect. It helps no one, least alone the victims of sexual violence. They are not responsible. It is important that we begin to debunk the myths about rape.
- A victim CAN be walking down the street completely naked and be raped: So often, victims of rape are dismissed because of the idea that their outfit was too bold or brazen. Let’s be clear, consent is NOT expressed by items of clothing.
- A victim CAN be married to the attacker, or dating the attacker and be raped: There is often a notion that because a victim is married to the accused, it could never be rape. The reality is that people are more likely to be raped by somebody that they know. Studies suggest that 90 % of rapes are committed by a person known to the victim. If a person undertakes a sexual act when consent has not been given, it is rape. It is rape whether you are married, dating or otherwise. Whatever the context, a person has the right to change their mind about having sex at any point of contact. If a person does not stop when the other says no, it is rape. Verbal consent must be given every time two people have sexual contact. Let’s be clear, consent is NOT ensured with a marriage certificate or agreeing to go on a dinner invitation.
- A victim CAN be drunk and be raped: There is often the view that because a victim drank too much, that it wasn’t rape. However, if a person is unconscious, if their clarity of mind is impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent. Having sex with a person who is drunk is a sexual assault. Let’s be clear, consent is NOT given by somebody who is intoxicated.
- A victim CAN be out alone, late at night and be raped: There is often the judgement that because a victim was out late in a questionable or dangerous area, that it was not rape. A person can be out on their own in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere and be raped. Regardless of where a person is at any given moment, there is never ever a right or acceptable time or place to rape. Let’s be clear, consent is NOT given by a person’s location.
- A victim CAN respond without fighting back and be raped: Often people make judgements based on whether the victim is showing any signs of physical assault. Just because there is no visible evidence of an attack, does not mean that a person has not been raped. Statistically speaking, it is a natural, physiological response for a person to freeze when confronted by a horrific, fearful and terrifying trauma such as rape. It is the response of many victims. Let’s be clear, consent is NOT given by a lack of physical retaliation.
Consider for a moment, what other crimes can you think of where social opinion is expended to make the victim appear responsible?
No woman, man or child asks or deserves to be raped. Turning the tables of judgement to the attacker, is a must. ‘‘If only he/she had not commited this crime’’. ‘‘If only he/she had stopped and listened to my screams’’. ‘‘If only he/she had the sense to understand that no, means no and that consent is not expressed by items of clothing’’. ‘‘If only he/she had not taken advantage of me in my vulnerable state’’. I could go on. The point is that rape is an act of violence and it is ALWAYS the fault of the perpetrator. It can take place on the street, in the home, it can happen to anybody at any time. Whatever the circumstances, it is never, ever okay and it is never, ever the victims fault.
You can recover
You have suffered a horrendous trauma that you will carry for the rest of your life, but it does not define you nor does it have the power to shape your future.
Whether you are a woman, a man or a child. Whether you were raped years ago, or yesterday. Your experience matters. Your voice matters. You, matter. If you are suffering, seek help. Counselling support can assist you in your recovery. Visit your doctor. Contact the police. Confide in a trusted friend or a family member. Have courage, for you are not alone. You deserved so much more and you absolutely deserve the best life moving forwards.
Wishing you strength and good mental health,
Help is at hand…
If you are looking for professional and qualified advice in and around Sitges (Spain), then please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org More information about myself and the services I offer can be found here at the Here to Help website.