Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Two Sides of Rape


Rape is a horrific crime which, if the victim isn't killed in the process, devastates the soul and can make life a living hell for the rest of their lives.

Being falsely accused of Rape is a horrific crime which, if the victim isn't killed in the aftermath, devastates the soul and can make life a living hell for the rest of their lives.

We are all aware of the truth of the first premise, but, we rarely think about the truth of the second.  Most often, as a People, it seems we don't really care much about those falsely accused of rape.  I suspect we don't care because first, the victim is usually a man and second it doesn't have the same traumatic impact on the psyche of the People as does the violation, in the most intimate and often violent way, of a woman.

I am not taking sides, it is impossible to do so because both crimes are unconscionable; but I am trying to bring this injustice of the forgotten victim to the reader's attention, to wit - that there are two sides to the crime of rape; not at the same time, but both very connected with each other.  Minus the violence of the crime of physical rape, it is amazing how similar the repercussions are to one another.

As soon as either crime is committed, victims are painted with a stigmatic brush.  This insanity is quite understandable (which doesn't imply acceptability) for the person falsely accused of rape, but is beyond my rational comprehension how the victim, usually a women, of rape is in anyway responsible for the act.  Nevertheless, in the minds of many, they are; in fact in some countries where fundamentalist monotheism is prevalent, women are killed for simply being the victim.

In these same countries, the perpetrator is simply ignored or, in some cases, given a slap on the ... back; the more liberal of these places might give him a slap on the wrist, instead.   But, punish him properly?  Well, it is not in their religion to do so.  Fortunately, it is not that dispicable in the more "developed" nations.  Evan so, with a very few exceptions, these advanced nation's records are nothing to be proud of. (The exceptions are Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark; the US ranks 20th.)

This built-in bias is one thing male victims who have been false accused of rape will not have to face.  But, that is small comfort given the life-changing devastation they are going to encounter once the accusation is made official, and therefore public.  And once public, whether you are famous or not, the accused will begin to suffer the consequences; it's just worse if you are famous.  As a general rule, the accused will be considered guilty by most but his closest friends and family; and if not quickly resolved, even these people will be begin to abandon you.  Unfortunately, there is, as far as I know, no support groups for someone accused of rape; they are on their own in a hostile world.  He immediately becomes a target hate, vengeance, ridicule, and potentially hurt or killed.  If he is unfortunate to be jailed prior to the trial, if there is one, then he has a much higher likelihood of physical harm or death.  If he is found guilty, even though he is innocent, that danger increases by an order of magnitude when he goes to prison.\

Especially vulnerable are teenage boys and young men, ages 16 - 21, who either 1) truly in love with the accuser (or more likely their parents), 2) lied to about the accuser's age, or 3) subject to a fabrication.  It is very hard for these young men to beat these charges, especially if they are statutory, and, as a consequence, many young men now go around with the sex-offender noose hanging around their neck along with the myriad of consequences that prevent them from ever leading a normal life. Almost as susceptible are the rich, fathers, and step-fathers, for obvious reasons.

One might think these false accusations are a rare event, given the lack of headlines; well, it isn't.  Depending on which study you look at the false report rate varies from 1.5% minimum to an incredulous 90%.  The median, however, appears to be around 20%, where 6 studies reported <10%; 6 more between 10 and 20%, 5 between 20% and 30%, and finally 6 which reported >30%.  (Worth mentioning is that significant portions of true rape reports go nowhere due to lack of evidence and/or police indifference.)

Once accused, the victim must try to prove something "didn't" happen; a chore that often is a magnitude harder to do than prove something "did" happen.  Even when the charge has quickly been disproven, the stigma rarely goes away entirely; there is always going to people who think the victim of the lie got away with rape.  I could write volumes as to the horrible consequences men (but sometime women, such as teachers) have suffered at the hands of their accuser.  But I will only offer the reader this site, to puruse.

My point with this blog was to bring to light, in stark terms, falsely accusing someone of rape is almost tantamount in seriousness, and could lead to the same consequences as the rape they are being accused of.  While the potential of mental and physical harm, or even torture, murder or suicide, is very high for those who have truly suffered this attack on their person, it is no less true that the victim of the false accusations will have a high (I left off the "very") probability that one or more of these outcomes may also result