Despite our knowledge of the unfortunate commonality of rape, I still believe many of us are in denial. After all, isn’t it true that those raped lacked responsibility?
NO! A stranger with a weapon forcing himself upon a woman in an alley isn’t the most typical scenario of rape. Girls we know have found themselves raped or assaulted in some way, and it sad to realize everything you thought you knew about rape was false.
According to the National Violence against Women Survey, more than one out of every six women is a rape victim, and the majority of those victims were assaulted in their teens or early twenties. As students who attend a college affected by assaults, it is important that we be educated about rape.
If we continue down the road of denial, rapists will continue to get away with their crimes because the girls they attacked have been told that “it wasn’t rape,” and in some cases believe that the rape was in part their own doing.
Because many attacks fall within a gray area, the definition for rape and assault is not straightforward creating a lack of recognition of all kinds of sexual attacks. No matter how quickly the incident may take place, the U.S. Department of Justice actually defines sexual assault as any unwanted sexual contact (i.e. ass/breast grab).
Rape, however, is a severe form of sexual assault – technically defined as forced vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. As sex-columnist Amber Madison notes, it is important to understand that “forced” assault can be both physical and psychological threats.
The following scenarios, Madison cites to “count” as rape:
1. A friend, boyfriend, ex, or anyone a girl has slept with in the past made her have sex when she didn’t want to.
2. A girl was forced into sex by a guy whom she had sex with willingly at a later time.
3. A girl had sex but was too drunk, high, or young to understand what she was doing.
4. A guy forced a girl to have sex with him but told her that he loved her, that she was beautiful, or that she was so sexy he couldn’t control himself.
5. A girl was forced into having sex, but her body responded and she “got wet” or even had an orgasm.
6. A guy threatened to harm a girl if she didn’t have sex with him, so she did it because she felt she had to.
The fact is that anytime anyone, boyfriend, relative, friend, stranger, date, or teacher forces you in any way, physically or psychologically, to have sex, oral, anal, or vaginal, it COUNTS.
Since one of the biggest misconceptions about rape is that rapists are strangers lurking in dark alleys, Madison also points out what specifically counts as “no”:
1. A girl said no but didn’t physically fight off her attacker.
2. A girl said yes at first, but then changed her mind and said no.
3. A girl didn’t say no because she was afraid that she would be physically hurt or killed if she did.
4. A girl stopped saying no because it wasn’t making the guy stop.
5. A girl showed pain or fear, and obviously didn’t want the sexual encounter to continue.
6. A girl never said no because she froze up and said nothing.
Any way that a girl says no or stop means that a guy should stop. However, if a girl isn’t responding in any way, her lack of response doesn’t mean yes. If he ignores any of these signs, it is rape.
It can be difficult for a girl to come forward, or even comprehend that she was raped, especially if the rapist was an acquaintance or friend. But no matter how hard it is to realize, when a guy knowingly forces a girl into sex it is always that fault of a guy for not stopping rather than a girl for not being able to stop him.