Stigmatization of Rape Victims

After being raped in 2011, Angie Epifano, a former student at Amherst College, wrote a personal account of her story that was published on Amherst’s independent student newspaper’s website (Epifano, 2012). Reading it swallows the human soul and spits it out in a black withered husk. Epifano was raped, but when she tried to get counseling she was sent to a psyche ward. She was constantly told that she was overreacting or that she was much too angry about it. Her attacker graduated with full honors and a slap on the wrist. Though she recovered and started on the path of healing, the college decided to obstruct her normal life in every way.

They had almost stopped her from going back to campus. But she got back and she was excited to study abroad so that she could get a new environment. Amherst, however, nixed that plan, and she was stuck on campus. They wouldn’t let her leave, and claimed to monitor her for her own safety. Ultimately, she made plans and withdrew from Amherst. Unfortunately, Epifano’s story is not unique. There is an average of 207, 754 sexual assault victims (age 12 or older) every year. Though these victims are of any race, gender, and spectrum; women face a special form of misogyny and slut shame after their attacks.

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Instead of being protected and supported, many of these women are blamed for their attack. They are ostracized by society as being shameful. Not only are the women treated as scum of the mainstream, they are often treated as an abstract ideal. But they suffer very real medical problems and conditions related to their attacks. Our culture has fostered a generation that considers rape as a norm and shame as a primary fallback. The first thought that pops into mind when a rape victim is mentioned is “Was she asking for it? ” We should be working towards a society without the shame and persecution of the victims.

And instead try to prevent the offenders from happening in the first place. We Are Raised As children, girls are taught to be careful of the neighborhoods. They are taught to not wear revealing clothing. As teenagers and young adults, girls are told to not hang around so many boys. They are told to be wary of the dark corners and side streets. They are told to not dress promiscuously. They are shamed into hiding their femininity. They are told over and over and over again, to not get raped. The fault in this strategy is that it stigmatizes women and it criminalizes men.

Instead of fostering a ‘Don’t Rape’ culture, it’s a “Don’t Get Raped” culture. Women who are deemed as promiscuous and careless are accepted victims of rape and sexual assault. If a woman is wearing revealing clothing, “She is asking for it”. It really should not be a matter of whether a woman is an easy target for the rape or not. No one deserves to be raped. Shame Many rape victims don’t report their rape, fifty four percent to be exact. It’s simply due to the shame that is placed on them for being raped. They are seen as defiled. They are seen as careless. They are ostracized. They are embarrassed.

They become afraid of simple conversations. Because of the preconceived notions that are attached to rape, meeting new people is difficult and connecting with old friends is difficult. They are afraid of being raped again. They don’t easily trust anyone. Ignorance of the Physical Rape is not just an emotional injury. Oftentimes, it comes with physical repercussions. In this modern time, sexually transmitted diseases are rampant. In a study done by New England Journal of Medicine (1990), it was found that of the 204 women examined for sexually transmitted diseases forty three percent were positive.

Nearly half of the rape victims contracted an STD. Not just that, but there’s always a chance of pregnancy from these sexual assaults. That’s not the most concerning part. The lack of understanding and awareness that is evident in the mainstream is appalling. Just recently, Todd Akins, a congressman, has proclaimed, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. ”(Petri, 2012) This is coming from a man that is educated and in power. If rape is taken as such a joke, then why are over 200,000 suffering from the heinous act every year?

Our World We are living in a world where the victims are being held accountable for the crime done against them. That is the stark, brutal reality. We live in a world where there is a norm of sex and violence. It’s time to open our eyes and look around. It’s time to be outraged at the injustice. It’s time for us to stop blaming the victims and start preventing the crimes. It’s time for us to treat everyone with respect. It’s time for us to stop the cultural anesthesia that is preventing us from seeing the wrongs that are happening. It’s time for us to do something good.

References

Bates, L. (n. d. ). A crime upon a crime: Rape, victim-blaming, and stigma | Women Under Siege Project. Women Under Siege Project. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://www. womenundersiegeproject. org/blog/entry/a-crime-upon-a-crime-rape-victim-blaming-and-stigma Epifano, A. (n. d. ). An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College | The Amherst Student. The Amherst Student. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://amherststudent. amherst. edu/? q=article%2F2012%2F10%2F17%2Faccount-sexual-assault-amherst-college Jenny, C. , Hooten, T. , Bowers, A. , Copass, M. Kriegar, J. , Hillier, S. , et al. (n. d. ). Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Victims of Rape . The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://www. nejm. org/doi/full/10. 1056/NEJM199003153221101#t=abstract Petri, A. (n. d. ). ?Legitimate rape and Todd Akins myths – ComPost – The Washington Post. Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://www. washingtonpost. com/blogs/compost/post/legitimate-rape-and-todd-akins-myths/2012/08/20/f8c048b4-ea76-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_blog. html

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