Friday, December 9, 2011

Society & Acquaintance Rape: A Shift in the Right Direction...?

I mentioned in a previous post that the psychiatrist I was seeing during my semester off mentioned that he did not think my then-diagnosis of bipolar was accurate. He was the only medical professional I had seen at that point to mention that the complete and utter "craziness" I felt
inside might have to do with the sexual assault. He referred to the experience I described to him in one of our sessions as "date rape" (now it seems that the term "acquaintance rape" is more frequently used).

I remember going home and typing out "date rape" into google. Nothing that came up was useful. Everything that popped up discussed various "date rape drugs," such as Rohypnol, and well, I hadn't been drugged. As a result, I kept dismissing my emotions, minimizing what happened to me. 

The only resources that I came across which didn't directly target rape through use of drugs were websites dedicated to prevention of date rape. These websites provided lists of ways for women to reduce their chances of it occurring to them. I read numerous times, "don't consume alcohol"and "make sure you're with someone you trust." I also came across other recommendations, such as "avoid men who talk down to you", "men who treat women with disrespect", "men who are verbally abusive," etc. Basically, these lists seemed to high light everything I should have done differently, giving me further reason to place blame upon myself and not my perpetrator.
  • Don't consume alcohol? 
Well, damn, I can't go back in time. I consumed a whole lot of alcohol that night; clearly, I have to take responsibility for what happened so that must mean I wasn't raped. My world is crumbling because I am dirt.
  • Make sure you're with someone you trust?
Well, okay...didn't really think I had reason to not trust him. 
  • Avoid men who talk down to you, treat women with disrespect/verbal abuse?
Well, what about the men who are charming? What if they open the door for you, look you right in the eye, TELL YOU THEY ARE GOING TO RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH WAITING FOR??? What about those guys - I guess they can't be rapists?!  

I couldn't find anything that I felt applied to my circumstance. Nothing to help ease my mind. Besides, let's be honest, how many people really google "date rape" if they haven't already experienced it or are trying to help someone who has? 

The only reference I could find that seemed to apply to my situation occurred on the ABC show "The View." The hosts began discussing date rape for whatever reason, and all I remember is Joy Behar commenting with a condescending smirk plastered across her face that if a girl is extremely intoxicated, she had it coming. Let's just say, I haven't watched that show since...

Since reopening the "rape can-of-worms," I find myself once again googling "date rape."Actually, a google search of "date rape" led me to the term "acquaintance rape," a term I had never heard prior to a few months ago. Though there is still much room for improvement, I have to say, the online resources available today are more accessible and extensive than they were in 2003 when I was desperately looking to the web for answers.

Out of curiosity, earlier today I googled the following - "date rape" 2003 - and this page surfaced. I'd like to point out that 6 of 8 links targeted date rape drugs. However, if you google "date rape" without the year so that you get more recent links, this page is presented. The descriptions of the provided links for this search mention topics such as "hidden crime," "when someone you know socially makes you have sex and you don't want to," and "students protest newspaper columnist who says girls who 'drink five drinks' and go to frat parties invite date rape." Let me add, only one article on the page is a date rape drug fact sheet. Quite a change since I was googling this topic almost 10 years ago.

I'm not saying that information on date rape drugs is unimportant; I just think it's extremely important to let others know that date rape, or acquaintance rape, occurs without the presence of these drugs. Alcohol, if utilized in a certain way, can be a date rape drug, and I think the more that fact is recognized, the more difficult it will be for rapists to throw their hands up and deny their intentions were in fact to take advantage of someone in a vulnerable state. By limiting the definition of date rape to drug-induced rape, we allow rapists to carry out their rapes by feeding drinks to women (who are often already extremely intoxicated) free of blame. 

So often the authorities and general public view rape instances, in which the victim was intoxicated, as ludicrous because the victim agreed to take the drinks. They completely dismiss the intentions of the perpetrator. Somehow agreeing to drink alcohol gets translated into agreeing to give another individual full access to your body. Sure, drinking in excess is bad, but isn't giving drinks to a woman or targeting the drunkest woman, with the intention of taking advantage of her, worse - like a lot worse?!  When drinking is part of the picture, it seems that the perpetrator no longer has to account for his actions. With this type of mindset, what's to stand in the way of rapists continual use of alcohol as a means to violate women too intoxicated to give consent?

It's good to know that date rape is being taken more seriously now, at least as evidenced by my google searches. Yes, there is much room for improvement in this area, especially within the legal system, but it appears that progress is being made. And that is a positive point on which to end my day.

8 comments:

  1. Great post.

    I was 8 in 2003 so I don't remember how it was. However last year when I was in the 9th grade we had a guest speaker come to our school and talk about date rapes. This person didn't refer to them as acquaintance rapes but she was talking about the same thing you are talking about. She mentioned about how drugs and alcohol can make it easier for someone to take advantage of us, but it doesn't give them a green light. I guess I am saying that although I can't say that the resources has changed, I can say that they are available to my generation.

    I tested it and there is very little help resources when I search "date rape", but when I search "date rape help" or "date rape resources" more useful stuff does come up.

    A lot of so called date rape information does seem to lay the blame on the victim if he/she gets intoxicated. That needs to change. Maybe that could be a cause for you to pursue.

    Anyway, I'm tired and not thinking clearly.

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  2. This is a blog which shows a lot of courage and intelligence; I'd like to post links to it from my blog, for all the students and others i work with. We always try to move the conversation INSTANTLY from blaming the victim and starting with things she should do and not do- to the conversation about why this crime is prevalent, who are rapists, and issues related to prosecution and men watching for the sociopath among them. my blog has a 9-part series about the charming little tricky sociopath, who are 5-10% of the population and who feel better when they bully and steal. Internal battering. and i'd like to give you this link about crime vicitms not blaming themselves: It is weird and wrong that we cannot take a hike alone or a run at susnset or a beer with a "friend" http://marysbeagooddogblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/all-rapists-are-serial-rapists.html

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  3. Jaime, thank you for your comments. Wow, you were 8 years old when I was in the middle of college - yikes, I am getting old! ;-) It is great to hear that more resources are available to your generation. The only rape talk I remember occurred in college when all of the females were given, I kid you not, what the speakers referred to as "rape whistles." Stranger rape or date raped, I have yet to hear of anyone who was saved because they pulled out a whistle and started blowing it. There have got to be more effective measures for educating students on rape.

    I have come across several articles on a rape educator named Brett Sokolow who has visited numerous college campuses educating students - male and female - on important/controversial topics surrounding acquaintance rape and alcohol. From what I can tell, his program seems very effective in raising these issues and his use of real-life trail examples seem to do a nice job in high lighting the seriousness of these issues. A description of his lecture protocol can be found at the following website if you're interested:

    http://www.ncherm.org/student-program-01.html

    I hope you were eventually able to get to sleep. xxx

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  4. KatyTold, thank you for reading and commenting. By all means, please feel to share any links from this blog that you think other students going through the same thing could benefit from.

    I really like the point that you are making about sociopaths. I think that it is really wonderful that you are educating your students on this type of individual. I went to the same high school as A (my perpetrator), and I remember his best friend telling me one time that it was weird that he was best friends with A but still didn't really feel like he truly knew him. A was very well-liked at my high school, especially among faculty members, because he had the politician facade down pat. Looking back, his personality was very in line with an antisocial/narcissistic individual. Having that education before my assault, or even immediately afterwards, would have been very beneficial in helping me understand why I didn't see it coming/how the events leading up to my assault panned out.

    Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and letting me know that my struggle to overcome this can be beneficial in educating others.

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  5. worth waiting for... your husbandDecember 13, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    A is without a doubt a sociopath, and it's true that we men need to be aware of those around us as well, because maybe, just maybe, by choosing the right friends and acquaintances we can protect ourselves and loved ones around us, especially girl friends, sisters, and children.

    It's amazing to me that in some weird way, I fell for his charm as well. Here was this nice, friendly kid that always came up to me to chat (just not too long), yet then in that instant that you told me who had been your rapist it all became so clear.

    It was years later that I started reading a lot of articles about the sociopaths among us. Not all are killers (as I assumed), not all are rapists. Some are bullies, some are company leaders, some are quiet lab researchers that just like to focus on work, but they are all around us. As a man, its important for me to recognize this fact as well. I might not be as vulnerable to physical harm, but I have to be mindful that they can still affect my work, life, self esteem, and confidence if I let them into my world. Most importantly, by bringing them into my world, they can affect those that I care about because I wasn't vigilant enough to protect them from whom I allowed into my sphere.

    I guess the point I am trying to make is that this pathology is all around us, and it's important not to fear it as the unknown, but recognize it and avoid it. Sociopaths are charming and masters of manipulation, and their motives are always selfish whether or not their actions in and of themselves are selfish.

    This boy is hollow. I feel sorry for him because he will never be able to feel love or empathy or anything close to the feelings that I feel for you.

    I pity him in the same way that I pity pathetic rats that live their life living in filthy sewers and eating out of the garbage. I pity him because as with the rats' lifestyle, I wouldn't want to live that way. But at the same time, both those creatures aren't worth my time to think about and pity for me than a second or two.

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  6. Melanie, your husband sounds eerily similar to me. Especially the next to last paragraph.

    I agree with him. People like "A" don't deserve our thoughts to dwell on them or pity. However we deserve to better understand them so that we can more easily recognize them when they come around us and people we love.

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  7. Worth-Waiting-For...your husband,

    I like how you expanded the idea of a narcissist/sociopath further than its implications in sexual assault. You're right - we too often think of sociopaths as murderers, but it's true that they are among us and can affect our lives in numerous other ways. I think it's really important for parents and school administrators to educate others on how to spot these types of individuals, because unfortunately, all too often, sociopathic personalities draw us in.

    Thanks for reading and commenting :)

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  8. Jaime, when I read his response, I was thinking the same thing.

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