Rape Victims Are To Blame For The Continuance Of Rape

When someone goes out of their way to make a public service announcement about rape and reporting, we would assume that they would have a basic understanding of the mentality of a rape victim. Sadly though, this is not always the case and information then becomes available that can further damage and silence victims.

Recently on youtube, a user posted a video called Rape Scot-Free depicting a short monologue by a young man, blaming rape victims for the continuance of rape in their communities. His argument being that victims who do not come forward and report their rape are selfish and in turn aiding the perpetrator, enabling him/her to continue their acts of violence.

As a survivor of rape, I have to say that I was extremely disturbed by the video. The lack of basic insight into the mind of a survivor is appalling and in my opinion, highly ineffective. What this video has done however is further strengthen victim blaming in a society that already holds such fascist opinions.

I am one of the survivors that he is addressing in his video. Like many, I was raped and did not report the incident to the police. If I were to believe this video, I would be the victim who should be ashamed of not doing anything to stop the acts of violence from continuing. I would believe that I am the “good girl who keeps her mouth shut” and helped the man that raped me. I would believe that it is my fault that society doubts my rape because someone who is really raped would report it. I would believe that speaking out about my rape is simply “complaining” and not preventing. I would believe that I have no voice, that I have no right to talk about a faulty system because I am the fault in the system. I would believe that I am to blame for any acts of rape after me, because I am the only one who can change anything.

Create a video in black and white; speak sarcastically and angrily towards me. Tell me what I have done wrong and question my rape. Make me doubt myself and introduce more shame to the act of violence; blame me, again. If the motive of this video was merely shock response, then congratulations because I am shocked. However, if the hope of this video was to get victims like me to report, you failed miserably. As shame and fear are the primary tools of rapists to keep their victims silenced, I would ask how someone using shame against me now is any better?

As a survivor of rape, I can say that this video did not make me want to report, but rather strengthened my belief that we still have so much work left to do in educating people about the act and aftermath of rape. What happened to me is not my fault. I am not to blame. It’s time to put the blame where it belongs; the rapist not the raped.

Polanski Raped Her

Each morning on my drive into work I would hear the latest radio report on the apprehension of Roman Polanski recently in Switzerland.  Each morning for the past week it was reported that “Polanski pleaded guilty for having sex with a minor…” I guess a part of me accepted what I was hearing reported even as I knew it wasn’t accurate.

Roman Polanski

This morning I heard the much needed correction.  A listener called in to express how disappointed she was in the reporting of what Polanski did.  She was under the impression that when you drug and liquor up a 13-year-old then have sex with her throughout the evening that what we may be talking about isn’t “sex with a minor”.

It may be rape.

The case of Roman Polanski is not one blurred by ambiguity.  We know what happened.  We know how the guilty ran.  We know his celebrated career for the ensuing three decades afterward.  Yet, we still don’t know if we should call it rape?

We are afraid of that word aren’t we?  It was just a year ago that Tory Bowen wasn’t allowed to use the word ‘rape’ by a judge in court when describing how she was raped by her perpetrator.

Even Whoopi Goldberg, this morning on The View had to inform us that what Polanski did wasn’t “rape-rape.” Going so far as to tell the rest of the panel that she wanted to talk about “what he did” and not to speak out of a sense of “passion…when we don’t have all the facts.”  That’s interesting Whoopi.  Here are the facts.

From a legal standpoint, we know that Mr. Polanski plead down to a lesser charge.  He raped the victim, but he got a break.  This happens all the time.  Regardless of what he did, our legal system watered down the charge to the puzzling and much more friendly ‘sex with a minor’.  You can certainly water down what is, but does that ever change what is?

It seems there is a bit of confusion among society at large as to what exactly rape is.  I guess the only way to clear this up is to take our case straight to the most agreed upon definition we can find, courtesy of Funk and Wagnalls.

Rape – any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

If your one and only idea of what ‘force’ constitutes is violent, physical brutality than we really need to have a discussion about the nature of abuse.  Quaaludes and alcohol in a 13-year-old girl functions in quite the same way that Rohyphol, known commonly as the date-rape drug, works in adults.  It makes it easier for a perpetrator to rape their chosen victim.  The more altered she is, the less force that is needed to apply.  Sometimes it takes such little force that it can almost seem like it’s not rape.  But it is.

There is a greater awareness in our communities about the dangers of date-rape drugs.  Yet, we still fail to apply what we know to Mr. Polanski’s case.  I understand the delicate nature of rape.  It is a serious charge.  It is equally a serious offense.  If Roman Polanski ‘raped’ a 13-year-old would we be so worried about his well-being?  Would we be less likely to ‘cut him a break?’

If you want to make excuses for poor Mr. Polanski you are entitled.  If you think it’s been 30 years and he needs to be cut that break, then go ahead.  But there can be no question about what we are talking about in the first place.

In 1977, Polanski got what he wanted.  He raped and sodomized a girl and pleaded down to the lesser charge of ‘sex with a minor’.  Then he ran.

Now three decades later we are still struggling with what to call his offense.  Some call it sex with a minor.  I call it astonishing.

What Your Gut Tells You

In your minds eye, how does a perpetrator look?  Would they appear disheveled and transient?  Maybe have a evil snarl with lined faces and bloodshot eyes?  We’ve all seen the mugshots in the paper or on the television, from those perpetrators that LOOK like they are capable of violence.  The newsreel confirming their guilt, we imagine we could clearly see it in them.  It oozes out of them.

Then we read about Jon Pomeroy and his wife, Rebecca Long.  Mr. Pomeroy recently pleaded guilty to ‘mistreating’ his daughter.  He was accused of sitting passively by while his wife ‘disciplined’ his daughter.  At 4 ft 7 inches and weighing 48 lbs, this severely starved girl was taken from their Carnation home.  The trauma most probably stunting her growth permanently and the rotting of all her teeth, not to mention the irreparable emotional and physical harm she will have to come to terms with for the rest of her life.

When I first read the story I imagined Pomeroy and Long as the seedy character I always stereotyped abusers to be.  Recently the Seattle Times posted a picture of Jon and Rebecca walking to the courtroom and I was shocked.  They looked so… normal.  I couldn’t reconcile this outdated image of what an abuser is ‘supposed to look like’ with how they appeared in the

Jon Pomeroy and his wife, Rebecca Long, were arraigned last fall in King County Superior Court on charges of mistreating Pomeroys teen daughter.

Jon Pomeroy and his wife, Rebecca Long, were arraigned last fall in King County Superior Court on charges of mistreating Pomeroy's teen daughter.

photo.  Not visibly someone you would think capable of these atrocities.  They could easily be someone living next door in some residential area , saying hello and being neighborly.

But isn’t it so often how a perpetrator either fits or doesn’t fit our expectation of what an abuser should look like that determines whether we follow our gut instinct? Obviously there is no such thing as ‘should’ when it comes to abuse.

For Jon and Rebecca, we may completely ignore our instinct.

If we heard the cries of a child in that dirty mobile home at the end of the block we  just may make that call to Child Protective Services.  But would we do the same if it came from the 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath, well manicured, freshly painted home next door?  It certainly wouldn’t be very neighborly.

In this busy modern world, we have become good at dismissing, delaying, or debating our core instinct into submission.  It’s the reason why we stay up an extra hour when our body is telilng us to go to sleep.  Or when we have that extra donut as our stomach protests.

Looking at Jon and Rebecca, it didn’t surprise us to read the testimony of neighbors and people who knew them.  Friends and family were ‘shocked’.  Neighbors thought they were ‘always such a nice couple.’  Some even now indicating that they ‘aren’t capable of this.’  Ignoring our instinct when we need it least has caused us to second-guess it when we need it the most.

Pomeroy is looking at 2.5-3 years behind bars.  His daughter doesn’t get her life back in 3 years.  She also doesn’t have a parent anymore.  Mr. Pomeroy sat idly by as Rebecca Long starved his daughter nearly to death.  All too often we are content to sit idly by, ignoring the twisting of our gut,  while the people we know as ‘nice folks’ abuse and torture defenseless victims.

It’s interesting.  I look back at my life and when it comes to gut instinct I can look at the worst mistakes I have ever made and it almost always was a result of ignoring my own gut feeling.  Follow yours and speak up when you see something  that isn’t quite right.  We can always judge wrongly, but wouldn’t you rather be wrong than right and not say anything?

WSO Sponsors Male Survivor Conference!

We’re proud to announce our sponsorship of The 2010 Male Survivor Conference on March 18-21, 2010.  It will be held at John Jay College in New York City.  This conference brings together advocates, professionals, and survivors to share new knowledge in the area of male sexual trauma.

We hear the lineup of presenters this year is going to be quite engaging.  WSO plans to be a presenter in 2011!

If you are in the New York City area make sure to attend.  We need to support new research in helping male survivors in their recovery process.  This conference supports breaking the silence about abuse.  Our men need our help more than ever.

For more information:

http://www.malesurvivor.org/conference-2010.html

Chris & Ophelia

WSO

Our Beautiful Chihuahua

I turned the key and pushed the door open.  It’s usually about this time I see the little squirrel run to the babygate, tail wagging vigorously.  She emitted a high pitched noise that sounds like car tires squealing on the street. It was one of my favorite sounds ever.

But today, there was no little squirrel, no squealing, no Ms. Moneypenny.  It reminded me of when my wife is away on business and I get home from work and the entire apartment is this dead space.  You never know how much life they give it until they are no longer there.

Money Penny

I’d sit down on the couch.  Moneypenny would run around and scramble up furniture.  Her body was so erect it was like she was on the summit of some mountain.  She was a tiny Chihuauhua, but she always managed to climb high enough to look you in your eyes.

Her favorite thing was to be rubbed on the belly.  Even when my hand got tired I continued rubbing because I knew that she had been waiting all day for this moment.  With every sweep of the hand her eyes would slowly close.

Each night Ophelia and I would settle into bed, and after a few minutes Moneypenny would    prance up and find a nook to tuck her little body.  It was usually behind my knee or against Ophelia’s belly.  A couple of times I almost rolled over her in the night, but she never moved.

I never had a dog that trusted me so much.  I’m not sure I ever trusted anyone so much as she trusted me and Ophelia.

For three nights we watched and waited.  Penny didn’t eat.  She didn’t drink.  So we handfed her, and used a syringe to make sure she drank.  She was too tired to walk to her favorite pillow.  So we picked up her weakened body and placed her nice and comfy in her favorite spot.

I watched as Ophelia fed Penny saliva out of her mouth, at times the only water Penny would take.  From her mommy.

Penny would sometimes lift her body into a sitting position, fighting to get herself upright.  I imagined she must have trouble seeing with her weary eyes.  It was in those weary, sagging eyes that Ophelia knew that it wasn’t good.

We weren’t prepared to let her go.  We couldn’t afford the surgery needed to save her life, but the vet did it anyways because she ‘really liked that dog.’

Before the surgery, they brought Penny in to see us.  Her tail wagged vigorously, just like it always did.  If I had a tail, I would have wagged it too.

Her eyes were bright and clear, and she looked like she was going to make it through.  So I hugged and kissed her.  I swept my hand over her belly, and her eyes started to drift off.  We handed her back to the nurse.  She was so happy to see us.  I reached over one last time and kissed her on her little forehead.  Then she was gone.

The Man Code

Okay I got hooked on The Bachelorette this season.  Reality shows are sort of like Lays potato chips with me.  You can’t just watch one and be done with it.  Without contaminating you too much into the universe of this show let’s just say they had a ‘reunion show’ last night.  The Bachelorette, Jillian, and most of her male suitors were who had been previously eliminated in the show, were there.

As bad and scripted as they sometimes are, reality shows often reveal surprising realities of how badly men and women can behave and treat each other.

This year in The Bachelorette, more than any other, there was a bit of a controversy.  You see one of the male suitors, Wes,  had an agenda.  He was a country singer who already had a girlfriend.  He got on the show under false pretenses in order to further his career.  Not something exactly new in the land of the reality show, but it wasn’t exactly what he did that struck me as curious.  Apparently throughout the show he would brag to the other men that he already had a girlfriend and how he was going to hit it big with all the TV exposure.

All these guys knew, and kept quiet about it.  They all were vying for Jillian’s love and affection, yet never said a word about Wes.  Even as Wes made it through each ensuing round nearly to the end of the show.  Until finally one guy spoke, only after being eliminated by Jillian.

During the reunion show there was this weird energy among all the men about this one whistleblower, Jake.  They all spoke in a roundabout manner, but I got the impression that Jake had broken some sort of code among men by telling Jillian she was being played by another man. I call him a whistleblower sadly because in the culture of men, that’s what he did.  He went against the convention.

Then the other guys began speaking up, but not condemning Wes’s actions on the show.  They began making excuses for his behavior.  One man even professed doubt that Wes was playing Jillian at all.  Mind you, this is after we all watched video clip after video clip of Wes saying he was there to promote his music and how much sex he was going to have with his girlfriend after the show.

Wes, of course, didn’t attend the reunion show to answer for his actions.  But he almost didn’t have to.  Other men were piling on the defense for him.

So why is this important to us in the abuse community?

Well, it brings to light something that has been going on for quite some time among men.  Men don’t hold other men responsible for alot of bad behavior.  Most often this is out of fear of losing our own social standing in the process. There is this consistent scrutiny among men regarding how manly our behavior is in the eyes of others.  We hold each other to this standard.  We even have our own internal censor which comes as a result of all our younger years trying to live up to the male ideal that all of our early male role models instilled in us.

So we’ll see a male friend trick, manipulate, harass, and maybe even hit a woman and let it pass.  We hold our identity so closely to that of our manhood that we will watch others do atrocious things rather than risk stepping in and being considered less of a man.

One male suitor actually spelled it out for us on the show.  He called it the man code, that most bogus construct we wield to keep each other from speaking out and being our genuine selves.

You really want to know why there aren’t alot of men speaking out about abuse?  Or even the millions of male survivors who won’t speak out about their own trauma?  It’s the man code.

We would rather die broken and wounded than violate the unlivable set of rules which have been passed down from father (and mother) to son for generations.  It’s the reason why men are often reluctant to seek medical attention, much less a therapist.  I always think of the bullrider mystique, when a rider gets bucked off of a bull and, despite broken ribs, fends off medical attention and walks out of the ring of his own accord.  We all clap for that don’t we?  It’s harkens to the code.  When I read of the genocide in WW2 Germany and Rwanda I see the man code all over it.  Some say the man code helps keeps society running smoothly even as we destroy ourselves from within because of it.

I have my own man code.  It’s rooted in men like Ghandi and in the marches of Martin Luther King Jr.  In between all the status quo you can see it sometimes, if just for a second, in the Jakes of the world.  Don’t blink because you may miss it.  My man code is sometimes difficult to execute, as a man, so I try to execute it instead as a human being.

I have learned that physical courage is the easiest kind of courage to embrace.  Moral courage?  That is the most difficult.  It requires true sacrifice.  It requires us men to act, despite society, in order to save society from itself.  From letting boys be boys as they hit, abuse,  and harrass others, each other, and themselves.

Moral courage is the man code.

To my brothers out there, if you see it on display, don’t destroy it.  Don’t try to judge it or censor it into submission.  Get behind it.  Remember there are alot of young boys and men who are watching us and learning how to behave like men should.  Feed them the kind of courage that changes minds, rather than the one that reinforces old destructive habits.

Man in the Mirror

Got+to+be+thereI grew up listening to Michael Jackson on the radio. I bought the red, zippered jacket. I tried my damndest to Moonwalk, and failed. As a young, self-conscious, impressionable youth growing up I believed he WAS the King of Pop. He made me feel like I was the King of Pop. I wanted to be Bad, and I wished I could tell people to Beat It!

It seems like his entire life played out in front of our eyes. We knew Michael from the Jackson 5, we knew his silky smooth height in the 80’s, and we knew what he became later in life. At least we think we knew.

He died yesterday and I struggle with many different feelings inside. About who he was. About what was done to him. About what he did to others. He was an iconic figure in music. No one stepped onto a stage and created the energy and excitement he could. It all emanated from him and his years living his life performing and amazing us again and again.

With his death I have been watching and listening to the reactions of all of us. At times I am hopeful, appalled, angry, and sad. What Michael represented as an artist, meant so much to me. When he sang, “Whose Bad?!” it was one of the few times I felt confident enough to say ME.

From the heights he achieved, he became such a sad symbol in our society. The seemingly bizarre behavior. He preferred the company of children and we couldn’t understand it. I was listening to a radio show this morning and the host said that Michael preferred children because they didn’t demand anything from him. It was a sort of rebellion from his stern father, his record company, and all of the adults who made him feel like he was never good enough.

The allegations of child abuse. His paying the parents of the victims to keep quiet. The further allegations of the parents ‘setting him up’ for a payday by putting their children in harms way. The truth became so muddled and obscure coming out of the mouths of lawyers.

I’m not sure what Michael did and didn’t do. I don’t even know what his father did to him. When I see the frail, awkward person he became I see trauma. Maybe the trauma was right in front of our eyes. Being forced night in and out to perform as a child. Bullied by his father and others into the next gig, the next payday, the next performance. This child only felt normal when he was on the stage. He was in control, he couldn’t be yelled at or told what to do when he was performing.

I will miss what Michael represented as an artist. As a man, I didn’t really know who he was. I don’t know if he molested children. If he did, then it is truly sad that in his search for his lost childhood he may have taken it away too early from some of the children around him.

Maybe the lesson here is that we have a lack of respect toward our children’s right to be children. We think we know what’s good for them and often we don’t. We have trouble extracting our self-interest, our ego, our god complex, from the fragile life of the child that sees us with pure love. We can so easily destroy the life of a child. No amount of money, adoration, or accomplishment can help someone recover what was lost. Not even Michael Jackson could recapture his childhood.

In my childhood I grew up experiencing the phenomenon of Michael Jackson. As an adult, I saw what the phenomenon did to him. What it did to the children around him. I feel spread out in many different directions. One thing I know is that the sanctity of childhood deserves more respect than we often give it.

Rest in Peace. Michael Jackson. King of Pop. Survivor. Perpetrator. Child. Person.

(CdS)