Echoing Footsteps: Rape, Victims, Survivors, and What We Can Do
Rape is devastating to its victims. I feel as if this statement should stand alone, underlined and in bold typeface. It is crucial that we, as a society, come to a deep understanding and awareness of this message. For that reason, I will state it again:
Rape is devastating to its victims.
Thirty percent of rape victims will contemplate suicide. Slightly more will seek therapy. Slightly less will invest in some form of self-defense. The overwhelming majority, 82%, will tell you that their lives have been permanently changed. The way they view men will be permanently changed as well (Warshaw 66). Forty-one
percent of victims go through life believing every day that they will be raped again (Warshaw 64). Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we do what we can to spread knowledge of this crime, protect its victims, prosecute its perpetrators, and prevent it from ever happening again.
Acquaintance rape, sometimes called date rape, is the most common form of this crime. Yet, until the 1980s, it was virtually unheard of (Warshaw 2). We believed that rape was fairly rare. When it did take place, we wrongfully assumed that the victim was an idealized virginal school girl and that her attacker was a ruthless and depraved psychopath, armed and lurking in the shadows (Warshaw 14). This image needs to be destroyed. Rape is common. One in four women will be raped during her lifetime. Current statistics say that a woman is raped every four seconds in this country (Anderson 213). These women will be assaulted by people they know, most often by people they trust. They will be disbelieved when they tell their story. They will be thought of as “sluts” instead of victims. They will be told they were asking for it. They will die inside.
We can help. We can find out what victims’ legal options are, and if we act together, we can improve those options. We can support local shelters and hotlines. We can support our loved ones should they be hurt, directly or indirectly, by this crime. We can disseminate the truth so that no one can claim ignorance of the fact that rape is devastating.
So what is the truth about rape? In 1996, 362 rapes were reported in Tucson, Arizona. Three times that, 974 rapes were reported in the state of Arizona during that time period (Koss 1). Government estimates find that three to ten rapes are committed for every one reported (Warshaw 12). That means almost 10,000 women were raped in Arizona in one year. Evidence obtained by crisis hotlines and outreach programs suggests that these figures are extremely low. Moreover, 84% of these victims knew and trusted their attackers (Koss 6). Have I got your attention?
Destroy your preconceptions and social myths. Women are not raped by strangers. No one deserves to be raped. No one. Nothing you say or do can be considered “asking for it.” No...