Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault.
This is a comment by Chloe on the post “I Know Who You Raped Last Summer“.
“Let’s get a few things clear: This was not ‘date rape’. They weren’t on a date. The victim clearly refused the perpetrator’s advances and removed herself from the situation (or so she thought). There is no grey area, there was no implied consent, no ‘few too many’ to know better. This wasn’t a regrettable sexual experience—it was a rape. Violent, forcible, coercive—whatever words you need to hear to understand this was not a mistake or accident. It was a deliberate choice he made to stalk her down, physically overpower her, and RAPE her. Denying someone’s volition over their own body and violating the integrity of their body, is not a circumstance where a simple apology will suffice.
“A victim cannot force a rape to trial if the DA decides there is not enough evidence to prosecute, which is what happened in this case. Don’t assume it was because they didn’t believe her—it’s because they have to allocate their resources wisely and prosecuting a sexual assault case that could ultimately boil down to he said/she said is never a sure bet. This is not a rare occurrence and it is one of the reasons why so many rapes go unreported.
“I doubt that the fact that she was able to successfully bring a civil suit against her attacker was much consolation for this woman who quite possibly lives every day in fear that he will attack her again. It does not absolve him from his guilt and it does not address the central question that I find in this essay, which is: What do we do as a community when we personally know someone who is a sexual predator walking freely among us? How do we protect others without putting ourselves at legal risk or possible physical danger? And how do we live with ourselves when we don’t do everything within our power and that person victimizes others? If the legal system is flawed beyond hope, whether you think it’s too harsh or not punitive enough, how do we hold offenders accountable as a community?
“I agree our system is flawed for victims as well as perpetrators, but suggesting that a reasonable solution is that rapists be allowed to apologize and get on with their lives when victims will most likely live with significant repercussions for the rest of their lives (and allows rapists to continue victimizing) shows a level of ignorance about sexual assault that is hard to fathom. However, the way we are dealing with sex offenders now, especially how difficult it is for them to reenter society after serving their sentence, is endangering our communities as well. We all have a vested interest in improving the justice system because the more offenders have going against them on the outside, the more likely it is that they will reoffend. Here’s an organization that’s doing interesting work on behalf of victims, offenders, and their families: http://www.safetyandjustice.org/
Photo credit: Flickr / Joelk75