House Republicans let the Violence Against Women Act Expire just days before mass protests in India about brutal rapes. The Medieval attitude in India is similar to what it was and still is in the U.S. in many ways. Blame the victim: She was wearing tight jeans or a revealing blouse; she was drinking in a bar, or she wandered into the wrong part of town, she wasn’t a virgin, she is too friendly with the wrong kind of men. An eleven year old victim was wearing make-up and looked 20. The message, it is okay to rape a 20 year old?
Add to that supposedly intelligent elected officials describing pregnancies from rape “a gift from God”, and “women lie regularly about rape.” All the rapes that didn’t result in pregnancy, are they a gift from God too?
Steubenville, Ohio teens joked online about the unconscious teen who had just been raped. They are middle class Americans, not sociopathic monsters, but officials in Steubenville decided these young football players had made a mistake and downplayed the consequences of their act. The message, if you are a hotshot athlete, it is okay to rape and joke about it?
Thousands of women are raped in the military but know if they report it they will lose their jobs and never be promoted. When they do report it, the man is rewarded and the woman punished. Another powerful message of unequal justice for women and the need for special protections for women who endure the most violence of every kind at every age.
Here are rape statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Sexual assault…it’s not about lust and desire, it’s a violent crime of POWER, CONTROL and DOMINANCE
- Every 45 seconds someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.
- 1 out of every 7 women currently in college has been raped (2), however, 9 out of 10 women raped on campus never tell anyone official about the rape.
- 1 in 10 men is raped in his lifetime , 1 in 7 of those victims will have been assaulted before the age of 18.
- More than 61.5% of rapes are never reported to law enforcement.
- Approximately 28% of rape victims are raped by their husbands, 35% by an acquaintance, and 17% by a relative other than spouse.
- 74% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by assailants well known to the victim.
- A female child victim is 7 times more likely to be re-victimized as an adult.
- Nearly 6 out of 10 sexual assaults occur at the victim’s home or the home of a friend, relative, or neighbor.
- 1 in 15 rape victims contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as a result of being raped.
- 1 in 15 rape victims become pregnant as a result of being raped.
- The United States has the world’s highest rape rate of all countries that publish such data- 13 times higher than England and more than 20 times higher than Japan.
- An American woman is 10 times more likely to be raped than to die in a car crash.
- 61% of rape victims are females under the age of 18.
- Contrary to common belief that violent crime rates are notably lower in rural areas, an analysis of location data collected for the National Women’s Study found that 10.1% of women living in rural areas had experienced a completed rape as compared to 13.6% of women living in urban and suburban communities—hardly a notably lower rate.
These statistics are not the most recent, but the incident of rape has increased, not decreased.
I take this very personally because I fended off two rapists working together when I was 18 years old and working for the Sheriff’s Department. I was at a bus stop near a field in San Leandro, 9:00 at night.
I was followed by a stranger and talked myself out of a rape walking home from a babysitting job when I was 12 years old. The parents came home drunk in a cab and shoved me out the door to fend for myself without a dime for a phone call in my pocket. What saved me is this man, age 25, knew my brother. Weeks later he was arrested for rape and murder, convicted and sent to prison.
My oldest daughter was the victim of a “crotch dive” three times in three different cities where she worked. Once while running early in the morning, once in a shopping center parking lot in the daytime, and once in a movie theater. Incidents like this are frightening and demeaning.
My youngest daughter was assaulted by 5 young boys approximately 12-13 year olds in France while waiting for a bus. She backed up against a wall and kept cursing and swinging her purse at them until some adults appeared and they fled.
Movies will have you believe that attacks against women happen in dark alleys by a single intent perpetrator by a women who uses poor judgement. Statistics tell a sadder story of assaults by family members and friends.
I wrote to my representative to protest that vote, not that it did any good. But, educate your daughters, your nieces, your sisters. Find out what kinds of defensive moves work best. Carry mace or pepper spray available in small hand held containers. Rapists like girls with long hair. It is easy to control them by grabbing them by the hair. Put your hair up inside of a cap while running. Screaming and being loud and fighting will sometimes divert an intended assault to an “easier” victim. Put your phone down your bra if you feel insecure. Run if you have the opportunity as fast as you can anywhere. Toss your purse and valuables in your pursuers path, if you have them, except your phone is in your bra. Run up on someone’s porch and pound on the door and scream. Roll up into a ball if you are knocked down. Or if grabbed from behind, sink heavily to the ground and roll up into a ball and scream and kick. But, the best move is to be prepared. Be aware of where you are. Walk quickly and purposefully. Stay away from dark places. Always carry your keys balled up in your fist with the sharp end protruding through your fingers when in a strange place headed for your car. It is a weapon. There are so many different situations, bars, date rape drugs, elevators, home invasion. The Web will offer many suggestions. Check them out for your young girls going off to college. Be safe.