Trigger warning: this article contents content involving rape and sexual assault.
Rape culture is, by definition, a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. If you didn’t notice, rape culture is a huge part of society today, and if you say it’s not, then you’re not paying attention.
One victim came out after her ordeal and said, “I was assaulted and raped on campus. I did not realize that rather than receiving support and concern from the university, I would be further victimized from the people who should be working to keep us safe. My life has changed forever while the person who assaulted me remains as a student and football player on this campus. After I was raped, I went to the hospital and gave an account of what I could remember. Then I was quizzed again by a DPS investigator who asked consistently demeaning and accusatory questions. ‘What was I wearing? What was I drinking? How much did I drink? How much did I eat that day? Did I lead him on? Had I hooked up with him before? Do I often have one night stands? How many men have I slept with?’ I was treated like a suspect. My humiliation turned to rage when I watched the recorded interview of my rapist by DPS investigators. Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him in a tone of camaraderie. They provided reassurances to him when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night that he raped me. They told him, ‘Don’t sweat it. Just keep on living your life and playing football.’ This man raped me and the police told him not to sweat it.”
Let me repeat that.
“This man raped me and the police told him not to sweat it.”
Her name is Delaney Robinson, a student at the University of North Carolina, who was raped by a football player named Allen Artis. She did everything a rape victim was “supposed” to do: she reported it, had a rape kit done, and cooperated with law enforcement, but even six months later, nothing was done.
A case you may be more familiar with is Brock Turner’s. Turner was a student athlete at Stanford University at the time that he was accused of rape, and this is why he mostly got off of these charges. The three charges he faced could have added up to 14 years, but his sentence was only six months because the judge said, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”
He only spent three months in jail despite being sentenced to six.
Judge Persky said that prison would have a severe impact on Turner, but he never mentioned how this rape would have a severe impact on our Jane Doe.
Theirs are not the only stories like these. In fact, many rape victims have stories extremely similar to theirs, including me. The day after I reported my rape, most of my family knew about it. I got a few sympathy messages, apologies, things of that nature. But one of my cousins texted me. He told me that I shouldn’t have said anything.
How could I stay silent when I knew that if it wasn’t me, he would do it to someone else? How could I stay quiet when so many of my family members knew what was happening, but thought that I wanted it? How could I stay silent when my heart threatened to fall to my stomach every time I saw him go into a room with a girl by themselves?
He told me that I should have kept my mouth shut because this would go on my rapist’s record. This would stay with him forever and would likely ruin any opportunities he had in life. Obviously, he didn’t know just how many rapists get away with their crimes.
I pushed that aside after arguing with him for a while about it because I was more concerned with the fact that I had an interview with DCS the next day. Oh yeah, did I mention I was 13 years old? I was barely even a teenager.
I went in for my interview the next day. The man there gave me a little teddy bear and then I was led to a room with an older woman to be recorded as I spoke. I don’t remember much of the interview; however, I do remember clearly that she asked me what I was wearing when this happened.
I will repeat: I was 13 years old. It shouldn’t matter what I was wearing. My body, my barely teenaged body, should not have been sexualized by anyone. My childhood should not have been torn away from me. My experiences should not have been invalidated just because I was wearing shorts and a tank top in July. I should not have been humiliated by being asked what I was wearing.
I left my teddy bear. I didn’t want it. I felt gross after the interview because I knew nothing would come out of it. Somehow, even then, I knew that my answers were somehow wrong, that my experience wasn’t “bad enough” for me to get the justice I deserve.
Months later, when my brother asked me if there was any update on my case, I had to tell them that they dropped it.
I have a friend who went through a similar situation. I will leave her name out of this because of privacy, but her story is just as valid as mine. She had a step-brother. When we were in the eighth grade, she told someone that her brother was molesting her. She had more proof than I did, so her case went a little farther, but in the end, it was dropped too.
It makes me sick to my stomach, even today, to think about all these rapists going free while victims have to fight to get rid of the chains we hold in our mind and bodies, the chains that they forced upon us.
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. This means that on average, there are over 321,000 victims in a year, over 26,000 every month, or about 893 a day. One out of every six women in America have been or will be sexually assaulted. If it wasn’t you, then it’s someone you know and love dearly.
Of these victims, 94% experience symptoms of PTSD. 33% contemplate suicide while 13% actually attempt it. They are also up to ten times more likely to use hard drugs. 15% of them are under the age of 12.
54% of rapes are never even reported, but why would they report it when 97% of rapists never see a day in jail?
If you take offense to any of this, then take a step back and ask yourself if you’re part of the problem.
Don’t be passive; be angry.