Amanda Byrnes (real name withheld), a rape survivor who shared her experience with me said she was raped by someone she called friend. Before the rape incident, he had asked her out and tried to kiss her but she refused him saying she had a boyfriend and all.
After that day, she avoided him but one day he was ill. He said he would stop by on his way from the hospital and she agreed because of his condition. At her place, he complained of high temperature and removed his shirt. She saw the test results with his name on it, so yeah, he was really sick but she knew she didn’t want to be in the same space with him alone. So she called her other friend to join them and he did. They simply chatted for a while and she felt safe.
After a while her friend (the one she trusted) left the room without her knowledge, and went to see someone else. All of a sudden, the supposedly sick guy jumped up and shut the door then pulled her to the bed. He was stronger so she couldn’t match his strength.
She begged him to stop but he was already someone else. He held her down, covered her mouth and penetrated her with force. She cried and begged but he didn’t stop. She struggled and found strength. She succeeded in pushing him off her and he fell to the ground. It was less than four minutes. He pretended like all was well, left the room, and went out of the house before anyone could see him.
She didn’t report the incident because of the shame that would come alongside it. She later developed anxiety disorder as she didn’t seek medical attention until much later.
Thought.co shared a story of a lady who enlisted in the military and went for boot camp. According to her, the physical trainings were hard on her, being a female and twenty years old at the time.
After boot camp, she developed daily headaches, migraines and back problems, and had to sign up for physical therapy with the base doctor at the Naval Air Station where she was posted for duty. The Navy doctor was a young man and dues to their frequent therapy sessions, they got talking.
They talked about movies and old songs that they liked. She felt relieved that she had someone she could talk to about normal things but she made sure they only had appropriate discussions.
They were friends. One evening, he asked her out to dinner as friends, nothing more. She believed him, and they were on their way to see an old movie festival, (as planned) in his car, when he stopped and said he wanted to pick something up at his place and asked if she could join him for a bit.
Okay, no harm in that. But then he suggested they eat first before going on out, there was still time before the festival started besides she was hungry too. So she agreed, hesitantly. While they waited for the food, they got talking on his couch. He offered her drinks and she took it.
Some minutes after she took the drink she started feeling uncomfortable as her head was buzzing. He tried to kiss her but she moved back and asked to go to the bathroom. Her mind started racing. He showed her to the bathroom but she was already feeling really sick. When she came out of the bathroom, he was standing at the door waiting for her, pants off. He grabbed and pulled her into the bedroom.
He was stronger, he was in the military so that’s a no brainer. She struggled to break free, begging and saying she wasn’t interested, she knew nothing about sex, she only wanted to see the movies. In a few minutes, he had raped her. He drove her back to the base. She showered hating her body and the decisions she had made.
Recently, there’s a rape story breaking the internet of a thirteen year old girl in Makurdi, capital of Benue State, Nigeria, who was sexually abused consistently for five years, (from age nine) by a father and his son (people she lived with). This continued until she was diagnosed of Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) and died eventually at the hospital. The son has since been on the run while the father is in jail awaiting trial.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that:
According to National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC),
Rape is forced sexual intercourse involving the genitals or any other part of the body e.g. mouth, without the consent of the victim. Rape is the opposite of consensual sex and is also known as sexual assault. It may be committed against both males and females, young and old. It is a crime which is punishable by law.
Sometimes, during rape, a form of threat or physical force is used. Other times the victim is drugged, drunk or in a state where they cannot take conscious precautions.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 80% of rapes go unreported, 40% of reported rapes involve victims younger than eighteen, and 15% are younger than age twelve.
A study by the United States Department of Justice in 2013, revealed that rape in one of the most underreported crimes in the US. Another study in 2014 revealed that 21.8% of American rapes of females were gang rapes.
According to different studies, the prevalence of rape among women in the United States ranges between 15-20%. A survey by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence in 2010, revealed that 13.1% of women who are lesbians, 46.1% of women who are bisexual, and 17.4% of women who are heterosexual have been sexually assaulted.
There’s absolutely no cause for rape except that some human beings are beasts in disguise. Beasts that want to take what do not belong to them. Beasts that prey on people they are stronger than. Therefore, I would say that sexual assault predators are the whole hundred percent cause of rape or sexual abuse.
There are certain beliefs that the society has attached to rape that sometimes makes it difficult for a victim to want justice or speak up. Some of the myths are:
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Myth1: Victims often provoke rape by their actions or dressing…
Fact: This belief is wrong. No manner of dressing or action should justify the beastly act of sexually assaulting a person. This belief hampers the healing process of a victim as it gives room for self blame. Sexual offenders are individually responsible for their actions. It is irrational to make advances that are not wanted and wrong to say that they ‘asked for it' because of they way they dressed.
Myth2: A woman wants it even when she says no…
Fact: No means ‘no’. There’s no part of the world where ‘no’ means ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ If a woman says ‘no’, the man is expected to respect her decision and leave her be. Nobody enjoys being forced to do things let alone to have sex. Violence in sex comes with a lot of mental issues: depression, fear, anger, self hate. Some victims, if not cared for, even go ahead to take their lives.
Myth3: Most sexual offenders are people the victims do not know…
Fact: In the real sense, rape and sexual assault takes place in homes and with familiar people. The United States National Sexual Violence survey estimated that 1 out of 5 women, and 1 out of 71 men are raped in their lifetime. 51.1% of female victims of rape reported been raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by acquaintances. While 52.4% of male victims report been raped by acquaintances and 15.1% by strangers. Similarly, a joint report by the ministry of Justice, Home office and the Office for National Statistics revealed that in the United Kingdom, only 10% of rape and sexual assault were perpetrated by strangers, 56% were perpetrated by intimate partners while the remaining 34% were by friends, family and acquaintances. From these statistics, it is evident that a majority of rape incidents are carried out by familiar people.
Myth4: Most rape victims are only telling lies…
Fact: Sexual assault is mostly under reported. For fear of the stigma and shame that follows revealing such an experience, victims prefer to suffer in silence. It takes bravery to share an experience as hurtful as sexual assault.
Myth5: Real rape cases don’t go unreported…
Fact: Studies have shown that 2 out of 3 rape cases go unreported. Many rape case go unreported because of the fear of shame or retaliation, belief that the police could not do anything to help, status of the offender and relationship with the offender (some offenders tend to be family members).
A report by the United States Department of Justice in 2014 estimated only a 34.8% of reported sexual assaults. Also, data presented by the United Kingdom Home Office revealed that 46% of recorded rapes were reported immediately while 14% took more than 6months before they were reported. Director of Durham Center for Research into Violence and Abuse in the UK, Nicole Westmarland is of the opinion that there is no evidence that suggests that the timing of when rape cases are reported, is linked to the genuineness of the report.
Myth6: sexual assault can not take place if a person has been sexually involved with the offender before the incident…
Fact: Whether or not there has been prior sexual intimacy between the offender and the victim, sexual assault can take place when an unwanted sexual activity is forced on a person. No means ‘no’ and there are many ways lack of consent can be expressed:
Having sexual relations with a person, whoever they may be, without the their consent, is SEXUAL ASSAULT. A husband or boyfriend can sexually assault his partner, as long as sexual relation is done without consent.
Myth7: Not all women can claim to have been sexually assaulted. E.g. commercial sex workers, physically disabled women etc…
Fact: Contrary to this belief, a good number of women in this category are highly prone to sexual assault. According to L. Simpson and M. Best, 1991, in their book Courage Above All: Sexual Assault Against Women with Disabilities, 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Women working as commercial sex workers experience more sexual assaults than women with other kinds of jobs. A study of 1,000 female sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, revealed that 93% of 1000 women had been victims of rape.
Myth8: A woman who accepts gifts from a man owes him sex...
Fact: There is no place in the constitution where it is said that receiving gifts means you have to have sex with a person. No one owes anyone sex because of any favor or gift, except there has been a prior agreement.
Myth9: Only women can be sexually assaulted, not men or boys…
Fact: Females are not the only gender that are prone to sexual assault though the are considered to be more vulnerable to sexual assault. According to statistics Canada, males under 12 years are at a high risk of experiencing sexual assault. Studies have also shown that more than 7% of men report sexual violence in college, 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, and 1 out of 71 men will experience sexual assault in their life time.
Myth10: when sexual assaults are reported immediately, chances of investigating and pressing charges are high…
Fact: When rape victims report assaults immediately, forensics take swabs of liquid (semen or saliva) from their bodies and its relatively easier to get the DNA of the rapist and for the victims to press charges. However, reporting a rape incidence does not guarantee that the sexual offender will be apprehended and prosecuted. This is evident in the many rape kits with evidences that lay untested in police department. According to data by the United Kingdom Home Office, 26% of rapes and sexual assaults led to someone being charged, and it drops to 14% when it takes longer days. In the United States, only 18% of reported sexual assaults lead to arrests while only 2% lead to conviction of the sexual offenders.
Rape could result in both physical and psychological trauma. When rape happens the physical damage usually involves bruises on the body and private parts due to the force of penetration but the most common and long lasting effects of rape is usually the psychological trauma and the baggage it comes with.
Some physical damages victims of rape suffer include: urinary infections, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)- HIV, Gonorrhea Syphilis, Warts, Herpes etc Pregnancy, Urinary Infections, painful subsequent sexual intercourse.
On the other hand, some psychological issues a rape victims may experience include: Low self esteem, Rape Trauma Syndrome (a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, guilt distrust, retraction, flash backs (disturbing memories) feelings of weakness, avoidance of sexual activity, personality disorder, self blame and hatred, anger, sleeping and eating disorders.
It is very important that rape victims seek medical attention immediately after the incident even before showering or changing their clothing. This is necessary for the treatment of injuries that may have been sustained, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy and for gathering evidence for the arraignment of the culprit. Semen sample is taken from the victims body as well as anything that could be used as evidence. Counselling, and medical care should be made available immediately for rape victims to aid mental and physical recovery.
Victims of rape often suffer a number of mental issues. Most times, they are not able to sustain subsequent relationship and may require therapy to get better. It is therefore important that they receive thorough care for both short and long term effects of rape. Therapy for rape victims are in variations. It could be the use of drugs, one-on-one therapy with the therapist, and even group therapy as seen in support groups.
Rape therapies prescribed for rape victims are mostly dependent on the circumstance of the incident. However, some rape therapies include,:
This includes the stress inoculation therapy, prolonged exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy.
In stress inoculation therapy, there are three phases. First, the victims of rape are taught about things that trigger fear, then they are taught to control their fear reactions, physically and psychologically. The third phase involves teachings of self love, how to apply what they have been taught and how to manage their avoidance behaviors. Stress inoculation therapy has been very effective in treating rape victims with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Prolonged exposure therapy is a way of ensuring that a person is no longer sensitive to the trauma from the incidence by repeatedly exposing him/her to the details of the event. Here, victims are usually asked to talk about what happened repeatedly, such that they no longer feel guilty or depressed.
Cognitive processing therapy is a mixture of stress inoculation, prolonged exposure and treatment of victims with PTSD
Here, the therapist creates an avenue for the victims to get support- physically and psychologically through active listening and care. This type of therapy is used in most support centers.
This therapy involves the use of techniques of both cognitive and exposure therapies. The victim recounts the experience while focused on an object held before him/her to allow the reprocessing the incident. Of all the therapies I mentioned above, cognitive therapies have been seen to be most successful in treating traumas stemming from sexual assault.
In the United States, rape is punishable under all jurisdictions even though the terminologies may differ. It may be classified as sexual assault, sexual battery, or sexual misconduct etc. Under federal law, the punishment for rape ranges between a fine to a sentence of life imprisonment. Age of victim, modus operandi and previous criminal records determine the severity of the punishment. however, whether the victim is a minor or an adult, the death sentence is not passed on the offender except in cases where death was intended and the victim dies or survives intended death.
Due to the social stigma attached to rape, the victims prefer to keep silent. In some Islamic countries where women are of less value, rape cases are barely reported because the victims are the ones that take the blame at the end of the day. They are accused of provoking sexual assault. Also, in some countries the system for criminal justice is faulty, hence it is difficult to arraign rapists for prosecution.
Also, in some countries, there are different definitions of what constitutes rape. For instance, sexual assault between couples are not considered rape in some places.
Keeping in mind that the population of a place and the amount of cases reported contributes to the prevalent cases of sexual assault in such place, the United Nations Crime Trend Statistics 2013, reported that the United Kingdom has the highest incidence of rape, closely followed by the United States of America, Brazil and India. Meanwhile in 2018, the United States ranked #11th country with the highest rape cases in the world. With South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Sweden, Nicaragua, Grenada, Australia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Panama and Belgium taking the lead.
It is very sad that even with USA being the most powerful and advanced country in the world, the rape statistics are still very high. In America, only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported. Cases of which only 25% result in arrest. While the sum of unreported rape cases might be more, about 80,000 American children are sexually abused each year. According Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, from year 2000-2005, 95% of rapes involving college students went unreported. One person is sexually assaulted every 107seconds and in every year, there are about 293,000 victims of sexual abuse in the United States. With statistics like this, it is quite certain that 98% of rapists are still walking free.
The following steps are very important if we intend to prevent rape:
Also, there have been programs set up for male mentors to counsel young men on how to behave responsibly towards women. Organizations across the world also offer counseling services in to people who have been sexually assaulted at any point in their lifetime. Some organizations include:
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