Women who are raped and accuse their attackers can end up threatened, abused on social media, accused of lying and even prosecuted.
When Rape Is Just The Beginning
WHEN THE VICTIM IS TREATED AS A PERP
In 2015, Marie, an 18-year-old woman reported being raped by a man who broke into her apartment. As is common among trauma victims, there were some minor inconsistencies in her story, which the police treated as indications that she was lying. Under extreme pressure, Marie recanted. She ended up convicted of false reporting, had to pay $500 in court costs, get mental health counseling for lying, and go on supervised probation for a year. Two years later a serial rapist in Colorado was arrested; in his possession was a photograph proving he had indeed raped Marie.
WHEN THE RAPIST IS A FOOTBALL HERO
There was no question about whether or not 14-year-old Daisy was raped. The assault was video taped—not to mention the many witnesses and the rape kit. But the rapist, 17-year-old Matthew Barnett, was a popular star of the local high school football team and his family was well-regarded in town. Eventually, all the charges against Matthew were dropped. Daisy’s mom lost her job and Daisy and her siblings were threatened with physical violence. In the end, Daisy’s family had to move away. Even their empty house was burned down.
WHEN THE VICTIM IS A CHILD
Childhood sexual abuse, especially when it’s by a family member, is often not reported, because the abuser is too important or powerful in the child’s life. In some cases the child may be too young to even understand what is happening; in others, another family member maybe acting as the enabler, thus cementing the abuser’s authority over the child. The long-term consequences lasting into and throughout adulthood can include:
• Fears of abandonment
• Feelings of worthlessness and low self esteem
• An abnormal or distorted attitude toward sex, impacting adult sexual relations
• Depression, including suicidal tendencies
• Distrust of adults and other authority figures
Note: Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact. It can include non-contact abuse, such as exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography.
EVERY 98 SECONDS SOMEONE IS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.
And that’s using today’s improved statistics that show a 50% drop in reported sexual assaults since the bad old days of 1993. Today, one out of every six women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape. After-effects can include depression, Post Traumatic Stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Only about 6% of rapists serve jail time. We still have a long way to go.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• propublica.org - Basis for article
• propublica.org - False rape accusations story
• rainn.org - Statistics
• lawstreetmedia.com - Why your rapist probably isn't going to jail
• cmsac.org - Facts and statistics
• victimsofcrime.org - Child sexual abuse