Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lara Logan

I don't know many people who haven't heard of the recent news about Lara Logan, a news reporter who was beaten and sexually assaulted while in Egypt after their president stepped down.  I don't have much to say on the topic other than I send my prayers to her and am proud of her for speaking out.  Speaking out when you're another face in the crowd is one thing, but speaking out when it is going to be covered by the news and spread around the world is another thing.  It takes a lot of courage and strength, more than I can imagine.  I also cannot believe the amount of ignorant remarks that have been given.  The news has covered different reactions from those whose words also got spread around the world that she deserved it and that she should have seen it coming.  How could she not, after all she is pretty and was in a heated climate.  I hate that ignorance such as this still exists, but I cannot stand that it is so strongly believed that one would go about posting it to the entire world.  I can only be happy that Nir Rosen stepped down as a NYU fellow.
And to end this short post, I'll leave words by Mikki Halpin "Other people who have "asked for it" on the job: miners who are trapped, construction workers who fall, astronauts."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why rape kits do help

I came across this article the other day.  It talks about how rape kits might be pointless since rape cases are about consent and not about whether the act actually happened.  I would say whether the sexual act was consensual or not, but I hate that rape is considered sex and it is certainly not a sexual act.  That, however, is an entirely different post for another time.

The author, Wendy Murphy, makes several good points.  If I didn't think about it thoroughly, or have a guy reaction to it before I thought about it thoroughly, I would have agreed with her.  There is a huge number of rape kits just sitting in storage waiting to be tested.  Her argument is that most of them do not need to be tested. 

As I said, she makes several good points.  The most important point is that if we don't test the ones where the rapist is known, we can free up the money and resources needed to test the ones where the rapist is a stranger.  Given that 85% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, this would be a good idea to help find those 15% of rapists that are not known.

There are a host of good reasons she gives for the 85% of non-stranger rape kits to be left untouched.  If you want to know them, go read her article.  I'll quote one part for you.  She states that "90 percent of those 12,000 cases [that went untested in California] involve victims and perpetrators who know each other. That means only about 1,200 kits should even be considered for testing. Of those, there's a good chance a majority will be rejected for testing because studies have long shown that many rapists do not ejaculate."

Well, if the only way to get DNA was from ejaculation then by all means, this makes perfect sense.  The invasion of boundaries and horrible aspects of going through a rape kit would be for no reason simply because the DNA could not be found.  Luckily, they test for more than semen.  How else do they search for DNA?  They look for hairs that could have DNA strands still attached to them.  They look for fibers that point to clothes the rapist wore.  They test for a lot of different things.

Still, her point remains that we need to free up cases for stranger rape cases.  My problem is that this doesn't make sense to me.  If a rapist knows that the rape kit will not be tested because the victim knows them, they can deny the fact that they had the consensual sex they will claim they had if their DNA is found.

We don't know what makes rapists say that they had consensual sex.  What fear is put into them that they say they even saw their victim?  Maybe it has to do with the fear that there was a rape kit, that it was tested, and their DNA was found.  If their fear was that someone saw the two of them together, why not say they just met and hung out? 

In my history, I went to the university police since both incidents happened on campus.  I went for an academic hearing to try to get them expelled.  An actual trial, the kind everyone knows about, was not done.  Again, that is another story for another post.  During the academic hearings, both guys said that what we did was consensual.  My rapists story matched mine pretty closely, a few details changed, and of course that included the whole consensual part.  My assailants story was 95% different from what actually happened.  Perhaps because he knew there was little chance that he would be found guilty due to the circumstances of the case itself that I can't get into without going into detail about what happened.  But all you need to know is, even I knew the chance of him being found guilty by the school was a long shot.  My rapist was found guilty and was suspended from school.  My assailant, no shocker, was found innocent.

What made one say most of the truth and one make up a completely different story?  I have no clue.  No one expert would be able to give me an answer either.  I wish I had a rape kit done though for my rape.  I don't know what it would have found for my assault, and I doubt any evidence would have made a difference.  But you never know.  Why would I want it done for my rape?  Because when I went for the prosecution, for the trial, for that 2% shot at jail time (although according to RAINN it is 6%, so we'll go with their numbers instead of Wendy's), I was told that without that rape kit, the police had no reason to even interview my rapist.  Partly because once he was suspended he moved 6 hours away from the area, buy partly because he would have had to say he raped me for anything to happen.  Why?  No rape kit. 

We talk about rape kits because they help suspected rapists get interviewed by the police, to be put on trial, to have a chance at justice.  Are we going to start telling women that because they knew their rapists, their invasive and horrible rape kit should just be thrown out?  Should we tell them not to bother getting a rape kit at all?  We created these for a reason.  I have to argue that funding needs to be given to test these kits.  If the victim wants to be put through hell to get this kit done, to be given hope that evidence will be found, to make the chance that they might be part of that 6% that puts their rapist behind bars, then test the rape kit!  And according to RAINN, that 6% includes unreported cases and of those reported, the number put behind bars is 16.3%.  Still low, but an extra 10% makes a difference. 

One last point, if we take into account that most rapists don't ejaculate and therefore the possibility of DNA is hard to find, what are the chances that we will find the stranger?  What are the chances that the stranger has DNA in the system because with a victim knowing their rapist, they can test the DNA easily.  You cannot, however, go and test random strangers in the hopes that their DNA will be a match.  They have to be in the system for one reason or another and that is hard to come by.

It is up to you to decide if any of this makes sense, but to me, it is obvious that if the victim went through the hell of getting a rape kit done, then it should be tested.  The problem is we don't have funding for the testing.  The answer is not to only test stranger rape cases, but to take rape more seriously and give it more funding because it is a serious crime.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Validating Survivors

I was raped in the fall of 2006 and I was sexually assaulted to a lesser extent in the fall of 2008. The second one taught me, among many other things, that it doesn't matter how far the assault goes, the aftermath is just as bad. Believe someone that no matter how "stupid" their assault was or how "it could have been much worse" that their pain is real and needs to be validated.

People speaking out that they've been raped is hard, but telling someone that something happened but it ended before they were raped can be harder. Think about it, it can be harder to believe that it wasn't the person's fault.  You might think that the victim is trying to say they actually regretted it but don't want to blame themselves for it ever happening. Let me give you advice, no matter what someone says, whether it is a guy or a girl, whether it is rape or something less, believe them. 1 in 6 women will be survivors of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime and the outlook for men only drops to 1 in 33 in their lifetime. That means there is a heck of a lot of survivors out there and not a lot of them are speaking about it. If you thought you didn't know a female in this position, think again and I'm sure somewhere along the way you will, or already have, met a male in the same position. Think of a college lecture hall, there are probably 33 guys in there.

You want to know what else this means? There are plenty of us speaking out about what happened and being blamed for what happened, told we are lying, told we asked for it. Trust me, I've heard it all. It helps keep the safety bubble for others. After all, if the victim had some, if not all, of the responsibility for what happened to them, then the rest of the world can control the safety of their own lives. Apparently, denial works for the victim as well as those that hear their story.

Blaming the victim

I wrote this for facebook a while back, but it fits here as well.  I was in college at the time, and had recently been sexually assaulted.  I was pretty outraged with how people were acting towards me, as if you wouldn't be able to tell by reading this.

What is the difference between asking for it and blaming the victim? Nothing.
Lets take me for example.
I was not asking for it!  I'm am SO sorry that I trusted him. OMG, you would think that wasn't allowed! Everyone who is getting on people's cases because they were alone with the guy needs to shut up. How dare a girl ever be alone with a guy! They would never trust a guy that well!
Here is some shocking news for you, in a year I will be out of college. Pretty much, I will be in the "real world." In that place, people go over to people's houses. If you trust a guy, you go over to his house and because he doesn't live with his parents, you go over to his place ALONE. Oooohhhh noooooo. Alone!!!!! It is the REAL WORLD. A girl and guy can be friends. A girl should trust a guy well enough to know that when they are alone, she is safe. I was not asking for it. I was NOT stupid.
Stop calling everyone in this position stupid!! Don't say they are naive or need to learn common sense. Maybe it isn't safe if they just met but it still isn't their fault nor were they asking for it.  Why would someone trust another person if they knew they would be hurt? 
But, this is their friend, this is a guy that they trust. There is no reason that they shouldn't be able to be alone together. I don't want to hear any dumb remarks about how they *should* be able to be alone together, but in this day in age, they can't be.  This whole "day in age" business needs to be changed, but that is for another time.  I don't want to hear about how men should not be trusted. I can't believe men aren't offended by this. Every time a man says that, or lets a girl say that, the men are silently saying two things. 1) No, I can't be trusted alone. I cannot control myself, the girl should know that. 2) Now that I have stated that opinion, if I decide to do something, you shouldn't give me a very hard time about it.
There is NO difference between asking for it and blaming the victim. NONE. They are the same thing.
Now, in this day in age, spread the freaking truth! There is no difference between the two. If a girl trusts a guy, she has every right to trust that she can be alone with him.