Stop The Violence


Recently, I have reported on the stories of women who have been convicted of crimes. Women who are victims of violent crime also have stories that should be told.

Rape victims often experience trauma associated with this type of abuse that may be never ending. Finding and dealing with a normal intimate relationship, and maintaining relationships with others, including your own children, can become incredibly hard as a result of sexual assault.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Crime Victimization Survey, a sexual assault occurs on average once every two minutes in this country. African American women have a ten percent greater chance of being sexually assaulted than white women, according statistics compiled by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a nationwide advocacy group for sexual assault victims.

I have heard stories all my life of sexual assault and have been a victim myself. One child I know was raped by her mother’s brother when she was three years old. When her mother took her to the hospital for treatment, she found out that her insides were torn so bad that she would never have children. Because she wasn’t going to tell on her brother, the mother sent the child to Mississippi to live with another sister. The brother lost his mind after a few years and went into a mental institution until he died. The young woman came back to live with her mother once again. She lives upstairs with her eight cats. She only leaves the house to go to work. She does not stop to talk to anyone on her way out or when she returns.

There are a bunch of stories I could tell, like the one where the young lady was having regular sex with her father. She had an abortion as a result. The father would send the mother to the store when he wanted the daughter. The grandmother found out and threw the father out of the house.

I recently read “Against Our Will” by Susan Brownmiller. Brownmiller reports that the typical rapist might be the boy next door, especially if the age is about 19 years old and he lives in the ghetto. The police are not always informed, because of fear or embarrassment. So there is no real way to count, statistically, how often it happens, according to Brownmiller. Most of the time, after it’s reported, there is nothing done and the victim only suffers more humiliation. The police can only compile their figures based on the offenders they manage to catch. These figures are sent to Washington to be included in the Uniform Crime Reports put out by the FBI, yearly. Published in 1975, “Against Our Will” reports that in 1973 the FBI reported 51,000 cases, which was up 62 percent over a five-year period. The conviction rate was less than 3 percent.

In the past decade, this trend has reversed, with the number of sexual assaults falling to about half from 1993 to 2001, according to figures compiled by RAINN.

Many believe that sexual aggression is part of being macho. Psychologists can sometimes portray assailants as victims of neurosis and traumas from their past. Victims are also sometimes portrayed as somehow responsible for the assault.

It is important to remember that rape is an exercise in power, which gives some rapists the advantage. That edge is more than physical. Rape in wartime and during slavery are two examples of rape as a tool of domination. It can be used as an emotional advantage, too. Cases of celebrities pop up from time to time–such as the cases of the boxer Mike Tyson and sports celebrity Coby Bryant–and often raise questions of how far people in positions of power can abuse that power.

The violent – and criminal – nature of sexual assault is revealed in the fact that a rape can easily end up being a murder. The effects of a sexual assault can be long term and severe. Prostitution is often linked to earlier sexual assault. Some may have been raped by a relative. The trauma they experience causes them to feel differently about sex, to separate sex from emotional intimacy.

The connection can also be reversed. Young people who run away, or have been put out of the home, find this a quick way to make money in order to eat and pay rent. Some just do it for the fast money. This lifestyle increases dramatically the chance that a person can become a victim of sexual assault.

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