Post # 1
I wanted to have this conversation steer away from the OP that this convo was stirred up by, because its not fair to her to continue having someone question her story.
Another poster made a GREAT point…
When someone says their house was robbed, or they got jumped for their purse, you don’t often see people responding that their story sounds “fishy” or that they “probably” did something to cause it to happen or put themselves at risk for it to happen.
so why is rape different?
Why is it OK to be “skeptical” of a rape victim?
The facts show that a miniscule percentage of rape claims are made up… yet almost every victim I know has been doubted by someone, even with NO evidence, no background with which to accuse them of lying. WHY?
This is mostly a philosophical question I guess… we know its a common thing to doubt rape victims or accuse them of exaggerating or “lying to hide because they’re ashamed” – but why is this so specific to rape and not to other kinds of violence and violations?
Just when I think we’ve come sooooo far… I get a little reality bitch slap.
Post # 3
True. You’d rarely hear someone say, “Well, you don’t have a large guard dog, so you were asking to be robbed.” Or insert any other precaution you could have to prevent robbery. You don’t hear anyone suggesting that the victim may be making up the robbery, unless of course this person has a history of lying and/or fraud.
But you’ll hear all the time that a rape or sexual assault victim was asking for their abuse because they had a little too much to drink or that skirt was just a little too short. It’s disgusting and it takes the blame off the rapist and onto the victim. Or that they really were cheating or sleeping around, and then decided to lie later and call it rape, regardless of a history of lying (and even if there is a history of lying, I would always lean towards belief).
It hurts. It really hurts to be told that you simply misinterpreted some sort of action or that you’re just making up the whole story. Thankfully when I came forward about my childhood sexual abuse the people I cared about all stood behind me, but there were some who doubted me. No one should have to experience that on any scale.
Post # 4
@BartenderPlease: Well, I can’t speak for others but I’ve definitely doubted robbery/mugging stories. I was just talking with a friend about how his new roommate’s robbery story was sketchy! So I question lots of crime stories.
Regarding rape – I would never, ever, say anything to someone doubting their story but I might doubt a story in my head. One problem that I have is that many people claim they’ve been raped after they’ve been drinking, even when the other person has ALSO been drinking, with the reasoning that they weren’t able to give full consent. “Drunk sex is not consensual sex” and whatnot. If both parties are intoxicated, I don’t see this as a fair accusation.
Post # 5
@evergladebee: But it’s a legal accusation.
Post # 6
It’s an outdated mindset. From my understanding it used to be common to blame the victim.
Its absolutely horrible.
Post # 7
@greenviolets: A legal one, yes, but one that theoretically goes both ways. If both partners were wasted, had sex that they both wanted at the time, then they were both technically raped? But it’s kind of a moot point.
The important point is, when someone tells you they’ve been raped listen to them GODDAMIT! My heart just aches for the millions of women who can’t understand what happened to them or are too afraid of being blamed or doubted that they never tell their stories. Being raped sucks enough. We need to make a concerted effort to make their pain stop there and not add to it.
Post # 8
Because society hates women.
Post # 9
Jumping into this discussion against my better judgement…
I think there are a lot of reasons. One is that people who have survived a sexual assault sometimes react in ways that dont seem like the reaction one would expect from a rape victim. It can be difficult for people to understand that life isn’t a Law and Order episode where victims are all huddled in a blanket, sobbing and dialing 911 the second a rape is over.
Another is natural skepticism. I’ve doubted stories about robberies and burglaries before. And I’ve seen actual instances of falsely reported crimes before – things with videotapes, or solid alibis, or unrelated witnesses who contradict the complainant’s story entirely. People absolutely lie about being the victim of all sorts of crimes for all sorts of reasons. And, unfortunately, rape is one of those crimes. A statistic I found (in Ms. magazine, so not some wacky men’s rights newsletter or anything) suggested that 2 to 8% of rape reports are untrue. That’s a pretty big number. Bigger than other crimes? Nope, but its also not nothing. I don’t think rape victims should be doubted any more than victims of robberies or burglaries, but I also don’t think we should assume that just because someone says they were raped, that it must be true. It’s not like some sacred thing that no one would ever lie about.
Post # 10
@BartenderPlease: Wow, I have NEVER thought of that but it’s totally true. Whenever I read about a rape story (I’ve read some in magazines or whatever, none here on the Bee) I always have a little voice that says, “But what did she do.. blah blah blah”and now that you brought this up, that’s an ugly and HORRIBLE habit and I have no explanation whatsoever for why I do it. I would never doubt anyone telling me that they got robbed or carjacked or anything.. Thank you for bringing this up, I totally need to change my attitude and way of thinking.
Post # 11
@KatieBklyn: but it is something that could be terribly emotionally damaging to the victim if they arent lying.
Post # 12
@AdriannaJean: I don’t disagree with your point, but I do feel it’s necessary to point out that it’s the legal standard because for some RIDICULOUS reason, if you mention that a person was drinking, it somehow undermines the validity of the person’s report.
I completely agree with the second part of your post though.
Post # 13
@KatieBklyn: But what is the harm in giving them the benefit of the doubt, when compared to the OBVIOUS harm of doubting someone who may very well have been devastated by a sexual assault? Unless you’re a prosecutor or a defense attorney who has the responsibility of making sure the guilty party is convicted and the innocent go free, why NOT give someone who says theyve been raped the benefit of the doubt unless you have PROOF that they’re lying?
My story probably sounded pretty “suspicious” to some. So now I have to keep that in mind whenever I hear a story that appears suspicious to me. But it does me absolutely ZERO good to tell them I don’t believe them, when it can do them a world of damage.
Post # 14
Unlike theft, robbery, fraud, etc most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Women don’t want to think that they are at risk from their husbands, boyfriends, male friends, dates, coworkers. Furthermore, not having relationships and friendships with men and never spending time alone with them is neither a practical or desirable option. So women are confronted with a very frightening reality-the men they trust could rape them and there’s very little they can do to prevent it. This is so frightening that it drives many women into denial-when they hear a story about a woman who is raped they either convince themselves that she is lying or that there were some glaringly obvious signs of what was about to happen that she ignored.
As far as men go, I think it’s probably just that it’s uncomfortable for them to think about it, like it might be uncomfortable for a German to think about the Holocaust or a white South African to think about Apartheid. If they think too much about it, they have to think about the ways they may have been complicit in sexual assault and the attitudes that lead to assault (like pressuring a Girlfriend to have sex until she agreed or not saying anything as a buddy made his way to the bedroom with an extremely drunk girl back in college).
Post # 15
I can’t say that I have ever doubted a rape victims story. It just seems so impossible to me that anyone would make something so terrible up but I know it probably happens in some cases. I think I have always just thought that women are smaller then men so it has to be true. How closed minded am I?
Post # 16
- Wedding: May 2013 - Canal St Inn
@KatieBklyn: When the focus on that relatively small percentage keeps other rapes from even getting investigated, it becomes a serious cyclical problem.