Stigma

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I’m well familiar with Social Stigma. I have a Mental/Emotional Disorder. Society wants to respect all of my rights – as long as I keep myself hidden away, and never actually Tell anyone that I’m ill!

What’s worse even than the stigma associated with Mental Illness is the Social Stigma attached to victims of Rape. For centuries, hell, millennia, victims of this crime have been treated like they were to blame for their own violation – you’ve heard all the standard lies: “She ought not to have been in that sort of place!”  “She ought not to have dressed like that!” “She was just asking for it!”

Bullshit!

A man is entitled to dress any way he likes, within the law. He can go anywhere he likes, within the law.  He can associate with anyone he likes, behave any way he likes, talk any way he likes.  If he’s assaulted and raped – yes, men can be raped, though it usually doesn’t happen outside of prison – NO ONE would say a word about how he was dressed, where he was walking, who he chose to be with, how he was acting, how he was talking!

They say all these things about women.

I don’t know how, or when, society started seeing this disgusting crime as any different from assault, battery, murder, kidnapping – and worse, in many cases, the victims feel the same way, on some level!  They don’t do what they freaking would do if victimized in almost any other way!

If a woman was assaulted, beaten, robbed, her very first call would be to the police!  She’d go to the hospital, let pictures be taken of her bruises and contusions … she’d give a detailed statement, while it was all still fresh in her mind … she’d swear out a complaint, and demand that the cops do something! When the culprit is caught, they’ll point the finger in the line-up: “That one, Officer! That’s the bastard who beat me up!”  Later, she’ll be called to testify, and she’ll do so, and sleep well that night, knowing that she’s done everything she could to get that animal out of circulation!

Many won’t do any of the above, when raped. Not until it’s far too late to do much good …

The Psychological scars can last a lifetime – but the physical scars are transient:  they heal all too quickly … if the criminal left semen, that will be absorbed and destroyed by the body within a very short time. With great good luck, some trace evidence may be detectable on clothing, weeks or months after the attack, but not if the clothes get washed.

Somehow, this cultural attitude that the victim is somehow to blame for the crime –  I should say the woman, because, as I pointed out, the same attitudes don’t apply to men.  In any event, that shame, keeps them from coming forward, from saying out loud “I was raped!” From being examined, documented, and giving all the evidence and testimony they can give, as quickly as they can …

Serial Rapists depend on this. They revel in it. Some have even been known to goad their victim with it: “It’ll just be your word against mine!”

It’s a lie, of course;  it will be much more than your word against his, if you go to the police at once!

There’s a tendency among most of the people who write about such things to leave that part out;  “Well, she was so traumatized, of course she didn’t report it at once!”  I get it, believe me, I do – but, again, with any lesser crime, they’d go to the cops at once!

Rape isn’t about sex. It’s about control. It’s about taking a person’s personhood away. It’s about using and discarding someone.

And when the victims don’t report it right away, they’re basically allowing the rapist to continue controlling them! Is  anyone better off when the crime isn’t reported for months? Sure:  the Rapist.

I have a friend who was raped. Twice. The rapist was a family member. He spent months preparing her, cultivating exactly the right attitude:  he set her against her mother – against the ONE person who could be counted on to believe her, and insist she call the cops. Carefully nurturing the tension that exists between many mothers and daughters.  He planned to travel alone with her. Planned to stay overnight in a motel. Carefully manipulated her into feeling she had no choice, that she couldn’t resist, that he’d get his way – and, of course, that no one would believe her …

Twice.

She knows the police did a half-assed investigation. She knows the DA didn’t pursue it with any vigor (until YEARS later, when he was trying to shore up his conviction record before an election.) She knows the manipulative bastard rapist planned a lot of it. She knows she was too young, too confused, too manipulated to really exercise the best of judgement.

And she knows things would have been different if she’d called the cops right away.

Maybe not completely different. It’s the deep south, where women have never been on an equal footing with men in the eyes of the law (assuming they are anywhere, it sure as hell isn’t here!)  And the man was clever. He planned everything out in exquisite detail. He was wealthy, too, with access to all the legal help this country can offer the well-off, while my friend had all the legal help this country can offer the destitute – which is to say virtually none.

So he might still not have gone to jail, even if she’d pressed hard for it the very next day. That’s a filthy commentary on the south, our legal system, our treatment of women, and our society as a whole, and ‘m not taking anything away from that argument – all of the above suck!

But he’d convinced her there was no point in even trying … later, she said to me, that of all the things he did to her, that one thing was what made her most furious:  that he’d convinced her she had no other option but to let him get away with it … that he had, in effect, manipulated her into becoming his accomplice!

Before you get all swelled up and angry at the use of that word, think hard:  it was at the heart of his plan, and he spent months working her into that state of mind … when you conceal a crime, when you allow evidence to be destroyed, when you don’t tell the police everything you know about it – you have become the accomplice of the criminal! Unwilling, certainly – it’s basically another form of rape …

And serial rapists get off on it … it’s just that much more control!

Our system has a ton of flaws. The gathering of evidence of such a crime is humiliating and degrading, even when performed by sympathetic professionals – and there’s no real guarantee that you’ll be treated sympathetically, or professionally.  The people in power, the Police, the lawyers, the doctors … many if not most are men, and they may harbor sexist attitudes, and be disinclined to truly listen … your family may have no idea how to deal with you during this process, and your friends may start speculating about how things happened – as if there was any scenario in which rape would be ok! Indeed, it’s how you’ll discover who your real friends are!

You have to decide:  do you want to deal with this inside yourself, and never really have closure – or do you want to punish the bastard, to make him unable to hurt anyone else?

That is the part that most people never really understand:  rape is not a one-time-crime!

I keep using the term “Serial Rapist” – but that’s a redundancy:  with very few exceptions, all rapists are serial rapists!  If they get away with it once, they’ll do it again. And again. And again.

The man who raped my friend has young daughters. Her mother said “Oh, I can’t believe he do that to his own children!”

He would. He can. He will.

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~ by dourscot on June 25, 2013.

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