Tuesday, 4 September 2012

No Safe Place


Perhaps it's the society or the hype caused by the media, it became so common that one would just view it as another story without putting much heart or thought into it: RAPE.


Most of the time, when one come across such news from the newspaper column, they read and made a mental note to not go to that specific place or  not go out late at night alone.  The clear indication here is they merely thought about themselves.  Who gave two cents about what happened to the rape victim?  Most of them are more interested in ending of this story than to know the whole story:  What is the punishment going to be?  They don't really care about what happened in between.  What is going to happen to the victim now?  There are so many things going on behind the scene yet no one knows, no one cares.  The only people who knows what is going on is the victim herself and those immediate around her.



Rape is not always as how we perceive it to be like as illustrated in movies or books that we've read.  It does not only happen in dark alley or during a burglary.  It is happening almost every where at every corner:  Entertainment Industry, Sports Industry or Work Place, Churches, Schools, Dormitories, Prisons, Wars and the list is endless.



"A 49-year-old woman who lives in a middle class neighborhood on one of Salt Lake City's busiest streets let her dog out one warm fall night as she always did. When he began barking furiously in the driveway, she ran outside to see what was wrong. As cars sped by, a masked man grabbed her and put a knife at her throat. Without saying a word, he pulled her by the arm, pushed her into her house and threw her on the bed. The dog ran in the house behind them, barking frantically. The man threw the dog against the wall, then raped the woman. He told her that if she screamed, he would "Nicole" her. Gritting her teeth, she focused on the small can of mace attached to her keychain on the table in the next room.

"I know that I will never, ever be the same person again. In fact, after it happened, I asked both my daughter and my sister if I looked different. Because I felt like I was so changed, it must be on my face," she says. "All women are vulnerable like I am. And if they don't realize it, they should. Because you never know what's going to happen. You never ever know when it's going to happen. And you always need to be checking your back. I have mace on my keychain, but you don't run outside to see what your dog's barking at with your mace in hand. And maybe you should. Maybe you should go everywhere with it in your hand."


While her attacker remains at large, the Salt Lake City woman struggles to get over what happened to her. "I will always feel like I'm not safe," she says. "That's my big issue -- trying to continue to feel safe in my own house. I will always be looking over my shoulder and checking the back seat of my truck and always trying to second guess where somebody could be hiding."

  
A person whether they have been sexually assaulted or those who have not been sexually assaulted would always want to believe that it is easy to identify a rapist such as having a particular profile like wearing trench coat, hanging out in empty buildings and have a crazy look in their eyes but most of the time, rape could happen anywhere and anytime, most of the time the perpetrator is someone you know:  a father, a grandfather, a neighbour, a classmate, a coach, an uncle, a brother or a son.  It could be anyone at all.

There has to be a balance between the punishment for the perpetrators and also the care for the victims.  Most of the time (which is used in a very loose sense) the victims will go through 3 stages post-assault:  The initial numbing, the later shock and denial and alast, the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If anyone whom you know was raped, listen to their every plea because it is important and it is valid for them to feel what they want at that time but if possible at all, bring them to the nearest hospital because Doctors and Nurses are specially trained to take care of delicate situations of this nature.  Victims don't have to report a police report (which they may change their mind about this later) immediately because their mind could be in a confused state so it is best to seek medical treatment first because it is important for doctors to check them for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and also to care for any internal injuries.  They will explain each and every procedure that they are about to perform on the victim and the victim have every right to not go through any of the procedures if they choose to.


There are no such thing as 'one of the biggest problem of the aftermath' because there is not going to be just one sole problem.  This 'scars' are permanent and affects the victims personality, behaviour, character and everything about their life after such aftermath.  The victims might become highly sensitive to their surroundings and find it hard to cope with people whom they are normally surrounded by because the trust that they had was broken.  Their emotions could run amok and it is during this period where they are most delicate and need the most support but unfortunately this support does not usually come from the victims' support system such as family members or spouses  Instead, family members or spouses usually puts more stress on the victim because sometimes in an effort to shield oneself from believing such a thing could happen to their loved one, the supporter will make excuses for why the event occurred. Some supporters will decide that the victim put themselves in a bad situation, even though they didn't deserve to be raped- which does not help the victim in their recovery road. The victim will often already internally blame themselves, especially because the violation of boundaries, broken trust, and the feeling of personal danger occurs with rape. If the support system they look to for support is a partner or spouse, some may be unwilling to accept reality and leave or blame the victim. In that situation, it is even more important to be able to find support in others.


One thing that rape victims should implant in their mind is that the rape wasn't their fault.  Most of the time, the perpetrator will use repeated words such as 'You asked for it' or 'I know you want it', 'You didn't even resist me' and the victim will end up blaming themselves but such words of the perpetrator are not an excuse at all.  He can't go 'Well he/she was being quiet so I thought he/she was enjoying it' or 'Oops sorry I raped you, I didn't notice you were frozen and crying'.  If it was intercourse performed during a normal time, the slightest change in their partner's mood would be like the recess bell ringing: LOUD and CLEAR.  It would just be downright outrageous if they thought for one fraction of a second that the victim consented to the act.  


As though going through all this is not enough, society played their part well by helping the victim feel worst about themselves.  


"Not only did the rape make Dianna feel more vulnerable, she was also hurt by the reaction of others. "The reaction of my landlord was that I who had caused the problems, that he hadn't had problems until I moved to there, and that he had to fix the door and he was kind of mad at me. The reaction of my neighbor was pretty non-chalant, like maybe I deserved it. I found out when I told other people that the stigma is still very strong."


No one person should ever deserve a treatment like that.  Instead of giving support, the society are playing victim blaming and at times to a ridiculous extend so not only the victims blames themselves, the society is quick to blame them as well.  Even the innocence of children is questioned.  At times, a raped victim advocate have to sit with a police officer and hear that a four year old girl was responsible for seducing her perpetrator who was an adult.  What nonsense is this?  The message here is saying that since we do not know how to take responsibility we shall then blame the victim.  Ain't that the easiest way out?


Why do men rape?  Perhaps if we know we could at least practice a certain extent of defence to get ourselves not raped.  Sadly, no scientist in the Year 2012 could spell that out for us.  There are however, telltale signs of a possible rapist (especially someone whom you know) so always bear this warnings at the back of your mind:


1.  Serves you an open drink.  Bummer dear, everything comes with a price nowadays.  Nothings free so don't drink it.

2. Invades your personal space:  Potential rapist generally does not have a natural sense of personal boundaries and might invade your personal space numerously.  Be careful around people who generally stands too close to you for comfort or constantly touching you unnecessarily even after repeatedly being told to not do that.

3.  Tries to take you away from a crowd. Hmm..

4.  Your gut instinct tells you so.  Better be safe than sorry.  There's always another person out there for you.


All this being said, what are the future left for the victims?  If they are strong enough, they could perhaps overcome this large hurdle.  What if they are victims of young age?  If they ever recover from it at all, they are likely to engage in unprotected sex or having multiple partners and engage in substance abuse.  They are also exposed to higher risk of HIV infection as the deem usage of condom as mistrust of their partners or even fear of experiencing violence from their partners.


Or, they simply refrain themselves from meeting society.  If the victim is married,  this obviously puts a heavy strain to their relationship.  The victim might not be ready to engage in sexual activities after such an assault or even if they somehow managed, they may wonder if their partner feels differently about them.


If the victim are not married, they might think they are damaged goods, dirty or someone that is no longer pure.  No matter how you see it, no matter how severe the punishment is given to the perpetrator, the damage that is done is done.  There are no bright side to it.  Another very serious concern is, most of the time rape cases are not reported at all.  The reported cases that we've seen so far are merely the tip of the iceberg because instead of getting the protection or retribution that rape victims deserves, a lot of times where such reported rape cases backfires on them and put them in a deeper hole than they already are.  Example:  They asked for it.  Society might view them differently.  They are cheap.  They are damaged goods.  They are not pure.  Adultery.  Shame on the family.  Dishonour.


No matter what the reasons are, no one should be allowed to put a finger on you if you disallow it but we live in a world where people are fast to point fingers at whichever person that is easier to be the scapegoat.  We each view things differently.  My view is that rapist should be punished as hard as possible without regard to the age or status of the person.    The laws should be strong and rigid to show that we will not tolerate such crime and if you do it, we will come hard on you.  As shown iEngland in the early fourteenth century, a victim of rape might be expected to gouge out the eyes and/or sever the offender's testicles herself.  Of course we are not as barbaric as then but the meaning should be the same:  Absolutely zero toleration and no leniency be it the perpetrator is a male or a female and regardless if the rape was done towards individuals of the same or different standard.


To those of you who are sleeping a comfortable, nightmare-less dream, think of the victims and the next time you come across any, be extra courteous to them.  They did not earn it.  They deserve our respect and care.


I would be very impressed if anyone actually read this line.  If you did, comment "I read because I cared" in the comment box please.  Sorry for the long wall of text, but I felt it necessary.