A Hurtful Crime No One Deserves
One crime that many women become victims of, but often are too hesitant to report, is rape—a word that becomes a taboo topic in most instances. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in a survey of adults in the United States, nearly one in five women—as compared to one in 71 men—reported being raped at some point in their lives. That statistic represents 18.3 percent of women, and that’s only the cases that were actually made known. Many of the incidents often go unreported out of fear or shame felt from the women involved. In fact, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 68 percent of all sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Unfortunately, 98 percent of all rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.
Too many individuals who commit rape walk away without punishment, and many of them are repeat offenders. Way too many victims remain silent—whether it’s out of fear, shame, the feeling of others not believing the truth, or a number of other reasons. Many people who are raped simply don’t tell others.
The silence is deafening.
What’s even more alarming is that many of the rape occurrences are between two individuals who know each other. The CDC reported in 2012 that in rape incidents in which the victims were females, more than 50 percent were reported as intimate partners, more than 40 percent were acquaintances, and only more than 13 percent were complete strangers. The familiarity is one more reason women won’t speak up about what happened—there’s hesitation when reporting crimes against those you know and once trusted.
Oftentimes, drugs or weapons are involved to force a woman into sex. She feels as if there is no option for her—other than potential death. It’s a sad reality: she can either lose her life or lose a piece of her innocence. She then has to live the rest of her life with the emotional impacts of someone else taking advantage of her. Those internal scars can’t be ignored. They are lasting and very painful.
The Office of Women’s Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago says that rape survivors often experience a common effect called Rape Trauma Syndrome, which involves stressful emotional responses as a result of the assault that took place. “Depression, guilt, and a general loss of self-esteem are all common psychological reactions,” it said. “These symptoms suggest that they have turned their anger inward and that they have unresolved fears. Remind them that they are in no way responsible for the assault and that nothing they did could ever justify the violence they have experienced.”
Women are not objects. They are not prizes to be conquered by men. Women are valued individuals who deserve to be treated with respect, and in no way should others freely be able to take advantage of them. Victims of rape are exactly that: victims. The blame is not on someone who never asked for her body to be violated—and she shouldn’t have to feel like she is at fault for being placed in a situation in which she felt helpless and alone.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of rape, be one of the brave ones to report it. Rape crimes shouldn’t be hidden in the dark, because you don’t deserve to feel like you are in a dark and lonely place. You are valuable—don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE. You can also visit the RAINN website.