RAINN harsher punishments and changing the stigma
Working on the Sexual Assult and Rape Problem
*** Warning this article deals talks about sexual assault, trauma, and rape. It also talks about my experience and the experience of those of who I have talked to, it in no way is meant to represent everyone.
The punishment should fit the crime, right? Why isn’t that the case when it comes to sexual assault and rape? Why is it that justice is rarely served and most people look the other way?
Is it true that my body is not my own? That it is an object of men to look at and admire? That I am nothing more than a billboard trying to sell another perfume? Are you telling me that I am just another sex object that belongs in the bedroom and may have the added advantage of being brought into the kitchen to cook and kept around the house to clean? That he cannot be punished because I was just doing my job?
Are you telling me that it was my fault for living my life or expressing myself? That I was asking for it or provoking you? That you had no self-control and that I should have known better and dressed accordingly? That I have to plan my entire life around other people and what they think? That I have to walk outside every day with anxiety over the clothing that I wear like my life wasn’t stressful enough?
See the person who should be held accountable in all of this is you. You made the choice to take something that wasn’t yours. You decided that you did not care about the consequences and that you were above them. You made the choice to damage my life, make my life harder and make a lasting impact on it because you were selfish and could not control your impulses.
You walk outside, not caring what you wear and I look in the mirror and can picture your hands across my body and your breath in my ear.
You can move on and never think about me again, but you haunt my dreams. The memories are still there and even though I try to forget them sometimes they resurface when I don’t want them to.
You have other relationships and partners but I am afraid and when I do I self-sabotage. The fears you instilled in me are still there and I do everything I can to protect myself. I look into other faces and I can see yours looking back at me, haunting me.
You are whole, completed and I am broken. I break down. I go through every day wondering if I will be complete again, happy, unafraid. I carry you with me even when I don’t want to because you took something that did not belong to you. You used me and threw me aside like trash. I had to pick myself up again and try and heal in world that tells me that it was my fault and that I deserved it.
You keep living and I keep surviving. That is why you need to be punished because I am a human being whose life has been damaged. I have hopes, dreams, things to accomplish, places to see and things to accomplish. This is no longer a man’s world and my life is just as important as yours.
You took my ability to feel safe. You took my ability to feel comfortable in my own skin and you made it so much harder for me to face the world, but I will. I have to because what you did was unacceptable and things need to change.
However, no one knows what you did. I didn’t come forward, I still haven’t named you. Many people have yet to come forward about the people that have sexually assaulted or raped them. The #metoo movement started it but the stigma is so strong and many are not prepared for the questions and comments.
What were you wearing? What time of night was it? Did he buy you a drink? Did you give him signals? Did you lead him on? How do you know?
If the questions were not bad enough they try to compare stories like there was somehow worse than yours because their reaction was different. That because you still go out or have sex that it did not happen.
Some will even go as far and say I wish I got attention like you do or you should be lucky to get attention. Because somehow being a plus-size woman I deserve getting sexually assaulted because I am somehow that undesirable.
When you go to the hospital after rape many times they send you home in a gown because they take your clothes. You can’t even go home in a dignified manner after getting poked and prodded again. Knowing that even then you would be lucky to go to court and for that case to even be prosecuted.
If it gets that far all you are going to hear is what I great future the rapist had and as much victim-blaming as possible.
So what should we do:
Get the victim help: help them find a therapist and a support group. Support organizations and hospitals give clothes to victims of rape, like the Grateful Garment Project. Help them find a good lawyer.
Remove character witnesses from cases involving rape and sexual assault. Nobody care if he was an allstar athlete it should be about the facts and the evidence.
Put better protocols in place for law enforcement when asking questions when someone reports a sexual assault or rape. Interrogating the victim like they did something wrong, they didn’t.
Women being there for women and for that I will leave you with this clip from Sex Education.