Shame. We still live in a culture where girls and women are often blamed. It is their fault; possibly by something they wore, by drinking too much, or by simply walking down the street. The “you provoked this” ideology has remained the same for decades despite great strides in women’s equality. However, in court, tables are turned, the rapist becomes the victim.
Humiliation. Once a girl is raped, many girls believe they are tarnished for life. Word starts to spread, rumors spread, and she faces the possibility of being ostracized by her friends, school, and community.
Fear. The potential backlash of perpetrator. If he finds out she told, her life may be at risk, or she may believe that.
Guilt. Produced when the victim evaluates their behavior as failure, that somehow they did something to warrant the attack. Guilt is different than shame. The guilt a victim feels can be adjusted. They have control over this. Shame is internal and affects their self-image of who they are. This can last a lifetime post rape.
Reliving horror. If the victim speaks up, she knows there will be arrests, trials, court dates. She will relive the entire ordeal over and over until there is a resolve. Yet, even if there is a resolve, rape victims live with the incident forever. Many girls would rather stay in denial and pretend it never happened.
Denial. A very strong weapon some girls use to essentially deny the violent event ever occurred. They can convince themselves it was nothing, downplay the situation to where it was meaningless.
As we have seen with Steubenville, and so many other recent rape crimes, the community and media often side with the perpetrators. The “girls are asking for it” culture clearly exists. It is up to young girls and women to be prepared because often times the law is not on their side.
There are many websites that instruct parents how to guide their daughters in self-protection, from self-dense classes to staying alert in all situations even if the people involved do not project any kind of evil. It is never too early to begin the discussions.