According to RAINN, there is a sexual assault every 2 minutes, and yet 97% of abusers will never spend a night in jail for their crimes.
That by itself is a pretty crazy statistic. But when you dig deeper, what you find is even more shocking.
1 out of 6 women (17.7 million) are the victims of rape. That means if you only knew 6 women your whole life, you’d probably still know at least one person who was exploited by another human being. How many women do you know?
1 out of 33 men (2.78 million) are the victims of rape. How many men do you know?
15% of all rape victims are under the age of 12, and 93% of those know their attackers. A full third of these children were abused by someone in their family. To put this into a bit more perspective, when you were in the twelfth grade, 12% of your female classmates and 5% of your male classmates were victims of rape. That means even if you had only 100 people in your graduating class, 12 girls and 5 boys in your class had a horrible experience, and 4 of those girls and 2 of those boys suffered that experience at the hands of a family member. How many people were in your graduating class?
So that gives us a fair idea about the victims. But what about the perpetrators. The reality is that these crimes are not committed by snarling monsters hiding in bushes.
As we already mentioned, family members factor heavily into rape. 28% are intimate friends or family. 38% are friends. All but about a third of rapists are people the victim knows.
A third of rapes are in broad daylight. Four out of ten are in the victim’s home, and two out of ten are in a friend or neighbor’s home. In fact, half of the time, the rape is within a mile of your house.
Rape is a crime of opportunity. In fact, in communities where there is more opportunity, there is more rape. For example, on reservations, one in three women are vulnerable to rape.
THE HORRIBLE TRUTH
Here’s something I found particularly interesting. Even the rapists who do time (which if you remember, that’s only 3% of rapists), are far far far more likely to be a serial criminal versus a serial rapist. In other words, rape is a crime of opportunity, and though there are no statistics telling us how much of our population turn out to be rapists, it would seem they would be close to mirroring the statistics for victims.
Now let’s really do the math here. Take a look at those statistics for victims again, and replace “victim” with “predator.” Even if we’re overestimating this, we’re probably fairly close to the truth. About 20 million Americans have committed rape. About 2 out of every 39 people you know.
Now this theory of mine might seem exagerated – and indeed may prove to be when the data is collected – but since many victims have multiple attackers, the final number could even be larger than predicted.
THE EFFECTS ON THE VICTIM
There are many physical and psychological effects that rape can have on a person.
- Bleeding or infection in the vaginal or anal regions
- Vaginitis or vaginal inflammation
- Dyspareunia — painful sexual intercourse
- Vaginismus — a condition affecting a woman’s ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Urinary tract infections
- Pregnancy – No matter what the politicians say, a woman’s body does not “shut down” during rape.
- Additionally, any injury suffered while attempting to fight off the attacker
- Rape Trauma Syndrome
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Self-Harm / Self-Injury
- Eating Disorders
- Stockholm Syndrome
- Body Memories
- Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Military Sexual Trauma
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Difficulty setting limits / boundaries
- Grieving / Mourning
- Guilt, Shame, and Blame
- Trust Issues
- Problems coping
- Self-Esteem and Isolation
- Problems associated with healthy sexual encounters
- Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder – lack or absence of sexual fantasies or desires for sexual activity
Obviously, the price one pays for the selfishness of another person can go well beyond the moment. Indeed, the consequences of the traumatic experience can last a lifetime.
I do want to take a moment to speak on a particularly ugly subject.
My girlfriend and I were at the local t-shirt shop, getting some work done for Chalkskin. We were waiting patiently in line for the person in front of us to finish his work with the printer, and curiosity always makes you interested in what everyone else has planned for their own shirts. The man in front of us was sitting comfortably with his arms along the back of the chair, not a care in the world. His design was up on the screen. It said, “You can call the cops, but that won’t unrape you.”
Having been on the internet a lot, I am no stranger to rape culture. There is certainly a prevalent attitude out there that seems to want to normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape, whether through “humor” or fetishism or an absolute lack of understanding. I’ve seen everything from victim blaming to trivializing comments so vile they make the t-shirt I mention seem tame. And it’s really no wonder. The dialogue of rape is in our pop music. The objectification of women is such an old topic it almost seems cliche. And the internet has done a lot to bring even the most extreme forms of pornography into our homes and make it all seem so tame and normal.
While I personally believe most people involved in this behavior don’t fully understand the degree to which they are active in negative action, I think it is important that they are educated as to information I’ve tried to include in this blog. The fact is, the victims of rape do not deserve to be further victimized by anyone. Not the friends of her attacker who want to show their buddy support by silencing her through intimidation. Not the anonymous poster online. No one.
Here’s the good news. Because of awareness, sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years.
You know, I’ve heard people say the opinion of a man has no real value in this conversation, since it mostly “effects women.” I find this offensive for several reasons.
1) It implies that there are no male victims, when clearly there are.
2) These staggering statistics point to an issue that is far reaching. Certainly this effects more than “just women.”
Victims of rape are mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, co-workers, leaders, the homeless, etc etc etc. And the predators are also mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, co-workers, leaders, the homeless, etc etc etc. In fact, many of the predators are also victims. We have on our hands an epidemic that effects all of us.
My voice may not be as valuable as that of someone who has lived through the experience, but there’s not one valid reason why I shouldn’t join in the outcry. And the same can be said for you if you have remained silent until this point.
ABOUT THE STATISTICS – FOR THE CYNICS
I can’t believe I even have to say this, but for the critics out there suggesting these accounts involve “misunderstandings” where consent was implied or somehow granted before regret set in, here comes reality. Only 11% of rapes involve a gun, knife, or other instrument of violence. And while 84% involve physical force, 5% of victims “go along” with their attacker when fear or coercion are the only weapons being used against them.
Oh, and being drunk is not an excuse. One in three perpetrators are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
These statistics are for the United States. They don’t even exist in countries where rape is an even more common occurrence!
Here are my sources for this blog: