Sexual Assault: Who It Affects and How

” I am not here to impress you with pompous style and empty words or to put only my opinion in your face or make my voice so loud it’s the only one you here I simply want to share a story.” (Kuntz, Karen)

There are vulnerable populations concerning sexual assault. While everyone is at risk and can be affected by sexual assault some are at a more increased risk than others. At risk, populations include Immigrants, Survivors/ Victims, Aboriginal Persons, The Elderly, Persons with disabilities, and Women between 15-24 years of age.

Depending on the victim, the way in which they are affected is vastly different due to a variance in culture, ethnicity, life experiences, personal and professional resources available, sexual orientation, disability, and age. Whether or not a victim is diagnosed with PTSD is also linked to these factors as well as the Pre-event factors, event factors, and post-event factors discussed in my previous post on PTSD.

In well over 80% of rape cases, the attacker is known to the victim.  This means they are either acquaintances, friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, or significant others- usually, someone you trust, someone you believed would never do such a thing. This acquaintance rape crisis is mainly due to three main factors: Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming.

Denial

As a society, we deny the potential for acquaintance rape. With comments like ‘legitimate rape,’ we perpetuate that rape only counts when it is forced by a stranger. It delegitimizes rapes that occur with acquaintances or those against drugged, drunk or unconscious individuals. Denial leads to three primary responses to women reporting rape:  Indifference, disbelief, or outright punishment. These reactions will be further addressed in the next post.

Distortion

While distortion may be partially due to denial, we cannot deny as a society we have skewed views of sexual assault. In the National Violence Against Women Survey (1995-1996), they found that out of 8000 women there had been a significant increase in reported rapes in the modern reform era (1990-1996) than before 1975. However, there has been no significant increase since the mid-1990’s; thus contradicting advocates of false rape claims who believe that there is an increase in false rape claims.

Victim Blaming

Victim Blaming has been a major topic of discussion surrounding rape and sexual assault. While they are not always made viciously, and they are often filled with distorted viewpoints, and some with ‘good intentions.’ Buzzfeed gives an excellent list of victim blaming comments made by a wide variety of individuals. https://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/22-comments-about-rape-that-will-make-you-really-angry?utm_term=.twaEnmQYr#.xvdDzGa80

Those are just some good examples. Yet if you want a more personal example, something closer to home, I will share a more personal example. ” At least you can use this as an example to not drink so much next time.” This was a comment made to me by a member of the Lethbridge Police Department. I will not include a name as it has been dealt with through mediation and it was a substantial learning experience for him and other new officers.

The problem with victim blaming is that it puts the blame on the victim when they should not be blamed. While there are preventative measures one can take to lower risk of sexual assault, it is never the victim’s fault. Whether they take precautions or not, it does not guarantee one’s safety. Some of the preventative measures one can take include:

Knowing your Resources- Who would you reach out to if you’re in trouble? Who would you go to if you were assaulted? What resources are available at school, work, or in the community?

Stay Alert- Know your situations, where you are, what are the risks. Are you aware of your surroundings? Who can help you nearby? Who is around you, could they hurt you? How can you defend yourself?

Don’t Publically Share Your Location- Social media makes it easy to share your location. However, this also makes it simpler to be targeted.

Make a Plan- Go out with a group and make plans to look out for each other.

Watch your Drink- Don’t leave your drink unattended, if you must leave your drink, leave it with someone you actually trust.

For more preventative measures visit: https://www.rainn.org/articles/staying-safe-campus

However, the truth still remains, even if you take all the precautions you are still not necessarily safe. Anyone can be affected by rape, and it can happen to ANYONE. Rape isn’t about attraction or sexuality; rape is about POWER. No one is too old, too young, too ugly, or too anything, for that matter, to be raped. The way you dress or the things you do do not give anyone the right to assault you. Do you think there are ways clothing can mean you’re asking for it? Watch This:

Sources

Keep This To A Whisper- Kuntz, Karen; Self-published

Rape Is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis- Raphael, Jody; Lawrence Hill Books, 2013

https://www.rainn.org/articles/staying-safe-campus

https://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/22-comments-about-rape-that-will-make-you-really-angry?utm_term=.twaEnmQYr#.xvdDzGa80