Thursday, June 09, 2005

A few thoughts about rape

My experience with rape consists of what I have learned by watching TV documentaries and movies. I prefer to keep it that way. However, I have studied and considered what I have learned.

One of the questions that is always asked of rape victims is "Did you struggle to get away or to avoid the sexual assault?" If the woman did not struggle (or if there are no signs of injury caused by struggling on a corpse), police assume that the woman must have enjoyed the assault in some way. ("She wanted it or she would have fought the attacker.")

I now have a reply to this extremely stupid and profoundly insulting assumption.

Watch an animal that has been captured by a predator. This could be on a nature program on television or it might involve two insects in your yard. The prey animal seldom struggles, even as the predator begins to eat it alive.

Sometimes the captured animal will give a shake or two, but it seldom puts up a fight for its life. It somehow seems to resign itself to its fate, which is inevitably death. It lies waiting to die, as the carnivore eats it.

Why would a captured animal not fight to save its own life? I don't know. But my guess is that it suffers from some sort of shock. It has not been prepared to be in a death struggle, so it doesn't know what to do.

Sound familiar? It didn't have coping strategies or skills taught to it when it was young, so it became an easy victim when captured. This is exactly the situation I have described in 'Turning It Around' many times, where unprepared children become adult victims.

A woman who is captured by a predator rapist is in a situation similar to that of a captured animal. She is in shock and doesn't know what to do. She is afraid to move for fear that she will suffer physical harm immediately, just as the captured animal might be afraid of being harmed by teeth or claws while it is being held in a death grip.

A woman rape victim should not be assumed to give her consent because she does not struggle. She, like the captured prey, was not prepared to know what to do in the case of a rape attempt.

We can prepare children or young adults for potential rape situations. But we don't, usually, because we prefer to pretend that it will not happen to our children. We want to keep our children "innocent" about such topics. Some become prey.

As for the rapist, why does someone turn bad like that? That is easy to answer. A rapist is in a life situation with which he cannot cope, and has been for some time. He has not been taught what to do in the case of personal troubles. He has not been offered resources to call upon even if he knows what his problems are.

The rapist turns to one form of anti-social behaviour in much the same way as a drug addict, an armed robber, a murderer or a nervous breakdown patient turns to other forms.

The whole purpose of childhood in the rest of nature is for the young to learn about how to survive in the world. For many human parents, the purpose of childhood is for the children to have fun, to learn easy stuff, to enjoy the "best years of their lives."

This is wrong. Keeping children innocent of what life is really like defies all the examples shown to us by nature. Innocent children mean ignorant adults. Ignorant adults suffer and are often thought to be weak because they could not cope with their problems.

We need to teach parents how to teach children. We need to have a Turning It Around program in place in every community.

Tomorrow is too late. We need it today.

The longer you wait to help, the more people will suffer.

You can make a difference, but not if you do nothing.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems

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