Rape Isn’t Always Violent

I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s post ever since I finished and scheduled it.  I’m not sure why rape and sexual assault are my focus right now, but obviously I’m working through something in my head.

Thing is, often we in this society question our own feelings of violation, feelings of being victimized, feelings of being “to blame” for the choices of others.  It’s a problem in both genders, but often is more easy to see in women.

So many times, when someone finds out someone else was sexually assaulted, the question inevitably comes out (if they didn’t report it) “why didn’t you tell the police/authorities?”

Too often we’ve internalized that idea that if we were only a “better person” then these things just won’t happen to us.

NEWS FLASH:  Sometimes shitty things happen to good people.

So, when we think it was our own fault that we got raped, beaten, destroyed – it becomes that much harder to actually report such things at the time they happened, when things can actually be found to prove such crimes.

I’ve had quite a few times when I was assaulted, and didn’t report it because I felt it was my fault.  In fact, it wasn’t until after a LOT of therapy and hormonal changes in my body, that I even actually understood that some of those things were actually crimes.  And it took even MORE time for me to actually agree that they were assaults, because I was too busy blaming myself and excusing the perpetrators.

  • There’s the “you were coming on to me in your sleep” story from yesterday’s post.
  • There’s something that wasn’t an assault on me, but was an assault on someone in my home.  I had a group of friends staying over at my home, that included a polyamorous couple.  After we all went to bed, the guy slept with his girlfriend, then snuck into my room and had sex with me.  Somewhere in the middle of the night – either before sex with me or after – he also had sex with a 13 yr old who was ALSO sleeping over.  She had a crush on him, which is the only reason I can think that she didn’t scream at the time.  And I didn’t know it happened until her family charged him with her assault.  The guilt that a) it happened in my home; and b) that I could not protect the girl was something it took ages for me to get over.
  • There was the guy who took my virginity, which while technically consensual had a whole fuckload of signs of abuse – including telling me we were “safe” from STDs because I was on the Pill, and telling me it was just my hymen breaking when I bled profusely, insteat of what it really was which was tearing the outer muscular ring of my vaginal opening in 3 places (NOT my hymen, as I was told by my doctor when he found the scarring).
  • There’s the “see me naked” shit and the stalking when I was 13.
  • There’s being fondled and almost raped by a much older man in the dark corner of a skating rink when I was 16
  • There’s being threatened with a rape in a mall, only saved by a security guard who thought the situation looked “suspicious” and told me “oh, they were just trying to scare you” when I told him they threatened me with rape.

Hell, I could go on and on.

Did I make some bad choices? Yes, but that doesn’t mean I was to blame for any of the assaults.

Plus, there’s always the “just endure it, being raped is better than being killed” attitude.

But so many rapists (of both genders) get away with it because they tell the justice system that the victim “wanted it” or they would have fought harder.

Something has to change.

Categories: Feminism, Mental Retraining | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Rape Isn’t Always Violent

  1. Actually, rape is always violent. It’s just that violence isn’t always physical. It can be psychological, too. A person coercing or guilting a person into sexual intercourse is using psych-violence to rape them.

    • Now you’re pushing a logical fallacy, my dear. You have a radically over-simplification of the concept of violence, based on a causal reductionism. Rape, given the fact that it is always about power imbalance, is always assaultive and a boundary violation. But, coercion or guilt, while aspects of power and control, are not violent acts – violations, but not violent.

      You are assuming a psychological motivation on the part of the rapist that is over-simplified to apply to all rapists, not just a proportion thereof.

      Just like aggression and violence are not automatically synonymous, boundary violations (even in the extreme) are not automatically synonymous to violent acts.

      • How do you define ‘violence’, then? I’d define it as any act whose purpose or result causes harm to an object or organism.

      • Sadly, that is exactly where the over-simplification occurs. It’s not much different than the concept my therapist put forward as a definition of “abuse” (her definition was “anything in your life that was less than nurturing”).

        My definition is not far from the dictionary definition. Violence is the application of unnecessary destructive force with the intent to damage, harm or kill a person, place or object. It can be used to describe the force of an emotion, but the communication of that version of the definition is never a clear delineation between what is “violent emotion” and what is “intense emotion” or “chaotic emotion.” If the point is to communicate clearly, one should use the more specific delineation, as the use of the word violent in that context is meant to elicit a specific emotion (i.e. PR/spin doctoring/propaganda/persuasion).

        While I sometimes fail, I do try to make the clearest communication possible. It can be difficult to do so, because while the denotation (literal dictionary meaning) of a particular word or phrase is fairly concrete, the connotation (implied OR inferred meaning – depending if it is the person speaking/writing or the person listening/reading respectively) of a particular word or phrase can differ in millions of disparate ways. These connotations are different because no two people ever experience life exactly the same way. For example, even my sister and I — raised in the same environment, by the same people, in the same era of history — have different connotations for the exact same words or phrases. And that means, when we talk, sometimes we have to define our terms to ensure we’re on the same page with the same understanding.

      • What do you of, then, of the term ‘psychological violece’? Isn’t coercion a form of violence?

      • The phrase “psychological violence” is again unclear and ambiguous. In psychological circles, it is extremely important to communicate clearly and unambiguously. The fact that some therapists seem incapable of doing so doesn’t make it right. It is considered a synonym for “psychological abuse.” While still a bit ambiguous, it is a more clear delineation of exactly what information someone is attempting to communicate.

        Sadly, the phrase “psychological violence” is again used as a form of emotional persuasion, because the emotional connotations to using that phrase reach the subconscious knee-jerk reaction.

        In the case of choices like coercion, manipulation, persuasion – you are all speaking about the same thing, but with different emotional connotations. There are times when all of the above are necessary and healthy. For example, in a court case if a witness is unwilling to speak the truth that has been previously told to the lawyers, the judge can and does coerce the witness to speak. All it means is that there are consequences for choosing not to give in to the coercion. It’s still your choice whether to give in or take the consequences. Medical personnel and family members use manipulation when they stage an intervention for an addict. As much as it is supposed to be “non-attacking” there is still emotional manipulation involved, telling the addict how much they are hurting those they love and themselves.

        Coercion, manipulation or intense persuasion are not abuse, unless the motivation of the person doing those things is doing so for their own selfish purposes with NO concern nor consideration for how it impacts the person they are doing them to.

        Gaslighting, on the other hand, is always abuse. It is the intentional use of any and all forms of persuasion to get the victim to question their sanity, their perception and their memory. The perpetrator may even believe he or she is doing so only “for the good” of the victim.

      • This was really helpful and made me understand your position clearer. Some more things I have to add:
        – Violence isn’t in and of itself bad. Many people participate in violence for fun. Sometimes we solve problems by violence. Therefore, coercion may be a form of psychological violence but it doesn’t mean it’s always bad, because violence is bad/good depending on the context.
        Abuse is defined by negativity, the fact it causes unjustifiable harm. Psychological abuse would involve psychological violence.

      • I agree with you here. Violence is not always bad, sometimes it is the only ethical choice remaining.

        Again, it comes down to clarity of communication – and sometimes that requires a more in-depth discussion such as what we’ve just had.

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