Friday, September 21, 2018

Why I always believe rape victims

On October 31st, 1997, I was raped. I cannot prove it. I cannot provide physical evidence that it happened. I apologize to the internet jury that the only thing I have to offer is my story, which is linked at the end of this blog.

When a woman comes forward accusing someone of raping them, I assume they are telling the truth. Getting hard data reports of rape is difficult, given that roughly 70% of rapes go unreported, but for the 30% of men and women who have the strength to go through the ordeal of reporting their assault, it's estimated 2-10% are false claims. In this scenario, if there are 1000 rapes, and only 30% are reported, 6-30 of those claims might be false. If there are 1000 rapes, and 100% are reported, 0.6-3  of those claims might be false. 

So yes, false claims happen. And the people who have done this has made it possible to accuse every. single. woman. who comes forward with a rape allegation of being a liar. Interestingly enough, this doesn't seem to be as big of a problem for people who report other types of crimes, despite the statistics of false claims being pretty similar:

"The rates for false allegations are no higher than those reported in other categories of crime, yet the victims of other crimes (such as theft or burglary) are not so routinely treated with suspicion as are the victims of sexual violence" - Independent
I would have found it odd that when my dad had his GPS stolen from his car for people to assume he was lying. That the internet would have torn him apart, doxxed him, accused him trying to ruin someone's life, and just wanting attention, money, fame, glory....all the things that happen to every rape victim who speaks out publicly.

Of course, rape is one of the hardest things to prove in a court of law, so if you are the type to have a strong belief in our justice system when it suits your agenda, you can sit back and confidently talk about due process, evidence, and "innocent until proven guilty" and not feel like a complete asshole for not believing women.

In fact, the way our justice system handles rape cases probably helps to propagate the misconception that false rape claims are practically an epidemic.

Graphic demonstrating that out of 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. Out of every 1,000 rapes, 310 are reported to the police, 57 reports lead to arrest, 13 cases get referred to prosecutors, 7 cases will lead to a felony conviction, 6 rapists will be incarcerated.

The page I got this image from goes on to compare the stats on other types of crimes (robberies, assault & battery), and not surprising (to me), justice is served far less in rape cases than other crimes. 

So yes, I do, by default, believe a woman when she goes public with a rape claim - it is far more statistically likely that she's telling the truth than lying. When Bill Cosby's first accuser came forward, I was devastated. I loved him - I grew up with him, he was everyone's favorite TV dad in 80's and also did some killer stand-up. But I believed his accuser. She had to deal with a lot of abuse from the internet jury who assumed she was lying, because "c'mon! It's Bill Cosby! He's a great guy!", but we all know how that turned out. 

Since the #metoo movement, a lot of people I like have been named, and in every single case, I have believed their accuser from the start. I love(d) Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, and Chris Hardwick and definitely didn't want the accusations to be true, but I just don't look at women who do this in the same ugly light that so many other people (mostly men) do. 

70% of rapes don't get reported for many reasons, and one of them (and probably the biggest since the advent of social media) is being judged by the court of public opinion. The same people who attack rape victims by calling them opportunists also criticize them for not reporting the rape immediately. It's paradoxical, and leaves no scenario where the woman can actually feel safe reporting her rape.

Part of  why I hold these views is of course the fact that I am also a rape victim. When a woman comes forward with details about a sexual assault, I can relate. I can also relate when keyboard thugs go after her with the "where's the proof??" nonsense, because I never could have proved my rape in a court of law. I "may" have had a small chance of getting justice if I had acted immediately, but I didn't, and for same reasons millions of other women don't. So when you (general you), attack women who come forward, you may as well be talking to me. You may as well be calling me a liar, an opportunist, and a fame whore. If my rapist was in the public eye, and I came forward 21 years after the fact with my story, I'd be treated exactly the same way as Christine Blasey Ford. 

If you choose to read my rape story and you are the type to instantly assume women like Dr. Ford are liars, it would be dishonest of you to believe me, even if you know me. If your attitude is always "innocent until proven guilty" when the victim isn't someone you know, you're being a hypocrite if you instantly believe your daughter, mother, sister, friend's stories. However, if you do believe my story because you know me, maybe it would be more practical and helpful to society to withhold judgement of someone you don't know in the future.

Disclaimer: Obviously there are triggers in my story. It is mildly graphic, and brutally honest, and was completely draining to put into words. 

My Rape Story

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