sex-crime-laws rape-Sexual assault

Sex Crime Laws Do Not Reflect the Dynamics of Rape and Sexual Assault The myths about rape and sexual assault perpetuate the idea that “real rape” only happens when the rapist is a stranger who raped the victim in a vacant lot, the rape is perpetrated through use of force or a weapon, and the victim suffered serious physical injuries in addition to the penetration, resisted the attack strenuously, and promptly complained to authorities. The reality is that victims more often than not are assaulted by people they know, are raped in their own home or the home of a relative or friend, are not likely to face force or an armed offender, are not seriously physically injured other than the rape itself, and do not report the assault to authorities. Research demonstrates that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

The 2010 survey of (NISVS) or National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and published in November, 2011, found that the majority of both female and male victims knew their perpetrators. Only 13.8 percent of female rape victims reported being raped by a stranger; most female victims reported being raped by a current or former intimate partner (51.1 percent), acquaintance (40.8 percent), or family member (12.5 percent). Male victims similarly reported a low number of stranger victimization (15.1 percent) and a high number of acquaintance perpetrators (52.4 percent). With respect to sexual assault other than rape, a majority of victims reported sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact by known perpetrators. Most rapes do not involve physical force or use of a weapon.

About a third of victims reported any of the following physical assaults by a rapist: being slapped or hit (31.4 percent), beat up (19.4 percent), kicked or bit (10.6 percent), choked or attempted to drown (13.4 percent), and hit with an object (6.6 percent). 10.8 percent of women and 8.1 percent of men reported that the rapist used a weapon. Rape does not generally result in serious physical injury other than the rape itself. The research shows that only 31.5 percent of female rape victims incur an injury (other than the penetration itself) and that most of them suffered “relatively minor injuries such as scratches, bruises, and welts.” In a survey of college students, only 20 percent of the victims of attempted and completed rape reported injuries, which were most often described as “bruises, black‐eye, cuts, scratches, swelling, or chipped teeth.”

In addition, many victims cannot or do not resist a rape or other sexual assault. There are several reasons. Many victims fear serious injury or death. In fact, the media and the police warn women against resistance to avoid serious injury or death and instead encourage them to “play along or try to talk their way out of rapes.” In addition, the trauma that is associated with rape and sexual assault may prevent a victim from actively resisting an attacker. Events that are traumatic and overwhelming cause some victims to “freeze with fright” and become immobilized. Some people “dissociate” and experience a detachment from their mind or body that results in an involuntary disruption of normal functioning and control. The expectation that rape victims must report to authorities promptly or be disbelieved is unrealistic and inconsistent with research regarding the impact of rape on a victim.

Decades of research has documented that only about 15‐20 percent of rape victims report the crime to police. This gap in reporting is unique to sex crimes. There are many reasons for not reporting or delaying a report. Victims are faced with the decision to contact the police in the immediate aftermath of a rape, when they may be traumatized and trying to make sense of what happened. In the aftermath of a rape, victims experience a wide range of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms both immediately and in the long‐term. These symptoms may include fear, anxiety, anger, self‐blame, dissociation, guilt, loss of trust, flashbacks, PTSD, depression, phobias, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. A rape survivor may experience all, some or none of these reactions.

As a consequence, victims may experience great difficulty making sense of what happened to them, and therefore may behave in a manner that appears counter-intuitive, but is in fact merely a normal expression of the victim’s unique strategy for coping with the overwhelming stress of the assault. These counter-intuitive behaviors may include avoidance strategies to manage the negative impact of the victimization, including denying that the event occurred and avoiding thinking about it. In addition, many victims are afraid, unsure of whom to tell, fearful of retaliation from the rapist, and wary of exposing themselves to a system that they do not trust and that may further invade their privacy and cause additional trauma. Victims also refrain from reporting to police because they are ashamed or embarrassed, or fear that the police will blame or disbelieve them.

Victims might not understand that their experience is a police matter, or think the police cannot do anything. A significant number of victims of drug facilitated/incapacitated rape do not classify what happened to them as a crime or as the crime of rape. Almost 50 percent of surveyed college students who had been determined to have been raped, based on the behavior they described, stated that they did not consider what happened to them to be rape. These trends demonstrate the growing understanding that unwanted and unconsented to bodily invasion is the core wrong that sex crimes laws must address. The FBI’s broadening of the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) definition of rape to include penetration without consent and without force reflects these trends.

It is important to understand however, that the biased perspective that continues to pervade the justice system’s response to sex crimes plays a crucial role in an individual victim’s perception of whether or not she/he was the victim of a crime and whether she believes that she will receive some measure of justice in the legal system. These victim perceptions affect whether victims are willing to report to law enforcement or cooperate in investigations and prosecutions.

Read More- The Complexity And Evolution Of Sex Crime Laws In USA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *