Part 1: Misconceptions About Rape/Sexual Assault

Warning: this post may be triggering to some readers.

Unfortunately, it's said that 1 in 6 women in the US have or will experience a rape or attempt at rape in their lifetime. Judging from people I know and other things I've read, this statistic is nowhere *near* the actual number because rapes and other forms of sexual assault often go unreported for one reason or another. I wanted to write this post because I know of several women who have been raped or sexually assaulted but didn't see it for what it was because they thought rape only 'looked one way'.

It has to be intercourse.
Answer-Not always. Different states have different rules, but most give some sort of 'label' to other sexual acts. For instance, some will extend the definition of 'rape' to include oral sex or penetration by a foreign object.. Sexual assault includes conduct that stops short of rape but that is still unwanted-for instance, fondling or other sexual touching. That was the case with me; for ages I felt as though I didn't 'have a case' because it wasn't intercourse, but the truth is that it doesn't have to be. Some states use the two terms interchangeably, which can get confusing. Whatever it's called, it's wrong. I'm not only talking about the legal definition anyway; 'fitting' or not, it's still a traumatic experience. I know this might sound strange, but knowing that there is a *name* for what happened to you can go a long way in helping you recover.

It only happens to women, by men.
Answer-Rape and sexual assault involve unwanted sexual contact, period. This applies to men, women, children, heterosexuals, homosexuals...anyone. I'm using the male pronouns because the majority of rapes are women-by-men, but it doesn't have to be.

He's my boyfriend/husband, we're supposed to have sex.
Answer-It doesn't matter what the relationship is. Even if it doesn't go to the level of sex, it's still wrong for him to push you to do things you don't want to do. It doesn't have to be physically forced, either; it can also be emotional or psychological coercion. That was the case with me-he never forced himself on me physically, but he made me feel like I 'had to' by lying and taking advantage of my reluctance to hurt someone's feelings. Going along with it because you're being coerced ('if you won't have sex with me, I'll rape you', 'You must not really love me then." "X Other Woman would, maybe I should drop you and go out with her instead') still 'counts'.

There's a 'threshold' that cannot be crossed for something to be considered rape.
I can't really think of a good label for this, but it doesn't matter what 'stage' your encounter is in. You can be making out, have your clothes off, already having sex...'No' and 'Stop' still apply. I know a lot of men will tell you that you 'can't back up the truck' or something similar, but you have every right to stop if you aren't comfortable. If you say 'stop' and he doesn't, it's rape. Period.

Rape is about sex.
Answer-Not entirely.  More often than not, sex is being used as a weapon to dominate or otherwise assert power over another person. Some people may push sex on you because that's what they want to do and they don't have enough respect for you (or women in general) to take no for an answer, but it's still the element of force and disrespect that is at play here. However powerful a man's sex drive might be, decent men won't resort to this sort of behavior.

What you wear/your past/how you act makes it 'okay'.
Answer-No. While men can definitely get the wrong idea from these things, it is never permissible for them to assume consent and 'proceed' if you do not want them to. You should make your feelings very clear *anytime*, but especially when he could get the wrong idea.

For 'prevention and escape strategies', see the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment