The Reason (In My Opinion) Why Date Rape Gets No Sympathy From the General Public

7 Sep

Date rape - or, "sex gone wrong" (courtesy of Womenin3D.org)

Stranger rape - or, "f***ed up crime" (courtesy of UltimateDefenseTraining.blogspot.com)

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to make light of rape committed by a stranger at all. I’m not writing this to offend any rape victim, advocate, or anyone who feels for rape victims. I hope my post won’t come across as condescending or insulting or cruel, but if my opinion offends any reader in that way, please accept my apology.

Monday’s post (I delayed, so sorry!) featured a male reader who questioned the truth about my story after reading about the first time and the second time I was raped, and my response to him. I really hesitated to share the argument, but what he wrote serves as a great example, I think, of the (common) snide reaction most people have when they hear about acquaintance rape happening.

Who am I to make that judgment? No expert, really, but as I’ve written before (and have no intention of taking back or changing), I’ve been date raped twice. In my experience, nobody respects acquaintance rape as a true crime, and I know I’m not the only victim of this type of rape to say they’ve been through the same. I didn’t report my first attacker and I regret it, but I reported my second attacker to my church pastor, the local police, friends, family, the regional board of church representatives and council – basically whoever I thought would listen. I was called a liar, a drug addict, an undiagnosed bipolar on medication, and also laughed at, made fun of, insulted, hated, isolated, ignored, and dismissed. I tried to press criminal charges and had them recently dropped without warning, even though I can prove the second attack. (Thankfully, a lawyer has taken me up on filing a civil lawsuit.)

The Difference Between Acquaintance Rape and Rape by a Stranger

The simplest definition of acquaintance rape, given by Merriam-Webster.com, is: “rape committed by someone known to the victim.” That’s easy enough to understand. I keep switching between the terms date rape and acquaintance rape because a lot of sources define them the same way, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Date rape is a type of acquaintance rape, like ‘babysitter rape’ or ‘mentor rape’.

At TheFreeDictionary.com, stranger rape is defined as: “a rape in which the victim does not know the rapist.”

Now, just to be clear, I’ll give the definition for rape. Found at Wikipedia.org:

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent.The term is most often defined in criminal law. A person who commits an act of rape is known as a rapist.

But why get so technical with the definitions?

Public Opinion

I think it’s helpful to give legal definitions because opinions may vary, but rape is ultimately a legal term. It describes a crime that’s not really up for public debate or approval.

Rape isn’t the only crime defined so strictly. Theft is one legal term that can’t be tweaked by members of society who “just don’t agree”. Another is murder. For example:

  • A woman was recently convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for feeding her 16-month-old son, who suffered from congenital syphillis, biscuits tainted with rat poison. The article at Examiner.com says that she did it out of mercy.
  • A teenager faces trial as an adult for the stabbing death of his 49-year-old female teacher. The article at CommercialAppeal.com says that he bragged about stabbing her at least 9 times around her neck, one first in her throat so that she wouldn’t be able to scream, and also that he had plans for the crime dating back over several months and had studied military tactics to be able to commit the crime effectively.

Would anyone argue that the crimes the woman and teenager (if found guilty) committed weren’t murder? Or, would anyone say about their crimes, maybe, “it wasn’t murder – the little boy needed to die” or “that teacher shouldn’t have been in that school at that time” ? Nobody (sane) would make such comments.

What was the end result of both crimes? An innocent baby boy and a teacher lost their lives. Poisoning or stabbing did not make either victim more or less dead than the other. One may have felt less physical pain than the other before dying (we can’t be sure), but that doesn’t change the final result of what both victims suffered. Punishment for the crimes might differ because of the level of severity only.

Now consider these examples:

  • The president of Uruguay has recently apologized to the president of Haiti for a gang rape committed by Uruguayan peacekeeping troops on a young Haitian man. The article at Reuters.com says that after earthquakes left many parts of Haiti in ruins, a video surfaced and circulated on the Internet that shows Uruguayan marines laughing as they hold a 28-year-old Haitian man down and assault him. The public outcry for justice was so loud that the president of Uruguay stepped in.
  • A man in New Hampshire was finally convicted and sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for forcibly raping a 15-year-old member of his church 14 years ago. The article (courtesy of The Associated Press) says that the girl wound up pregnant and was forced to stand in front of her Baptist church congregation and apologize for “behaving immorally”, even though the girl complained that she had been raped and never changed her story. (Sounds eerily familiar 😦 )

According to definition, both crimes were undeniably rape. The end result of both crimes? A 28-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl wound up assaulted. Being ravaged by foreign “peacekeeping” troops or being forced into sex by a trusted member of community did not make either victim more or less raped than the other. One may have felt less physical pain than the other throughout the ordeals they endured (again, we can’t be sure), but that doesn’t change the final result of what both victims suffered. And punishment for the crimes might differ according to the severity of injuries, just like the law dictates for murder and other crimes – but that wouldn’t mean that one guilty party could be charged for anything other than rape, like “unpleasant sex”.

So why was there public outcry for one rape, and public ridicule for the other?

There’s No Such Thing as The Boogeyman

In my article about Rihanna’s music video for “Man Down” and the outrage that followed, I said:

What would happen if young people actually DID follow Rihanna’s example, and suddenly anytime you heard of a rape in the news, the headline in the paper would read something like: “Teen Victim Fatally Shoots Attacker after Alleged Rape”? That would be a problem for a society that feels best about keeping rape and sexual abuse a “hush hush” topic, never to be talked about, and never to be acknowledged as something serious that damages lives almost the same way that murder does. Potential rapists wouldn’t get away with so many crimes, and be hidden by their communities, never facing criminal charges, or serving jail time that amounts to a slap on the wrist whenever they were actually charged and tried. They wouldn’t want to try raping anybody – a crazy young’un out there could just shoot them up for it. I’m not saying anyone should go out and pick up a gun. I’m saying that we need to be honest – rape is real violence, too, but a lot of us don’t care.

Now, I don’t think I was right in saying that people don’t care. Indifference isn’t really the best way to describe how I think society feels about the topic of rape. I think it would be better now to say that rape makes society uneasy.

We all know that rape is a heinous crime – really, we all do. It makes most people sick to their stomachs to imagine anyone they know ever experiencing rape. It’s a disgusting crime that I think is the only way of destroying someone without killing them – just leaving them physically alive to live with a core that starts rotting away from the minute of the incident until there’s an intervention of some kind. You really have to be a sick person to rape someone – right?

Well, if acquaintance rape is a legit crime according to the law – then maybe not.

By definition, acquaintance (and date) rape is committed by someone the victim is familiar with, and not a shadow in the bushes – the “boogeyman” that inspires rage when people think about rape in general. Consider these statements from The National Center for Victims of Crime:

  1. Seventy-seven (77)% of completed rapes are committed by non-strangers (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997).
  2. A woman is four times more likely to be raped by an acquaintance than by a stranger (Illinois Coaliltion Against Sexual Assault, 2002).

How many women (not even considering men, who can also be victims of rape) are estimated to experience a rape in America every year? About 1 in 6? The 2010 United States Census counted the American female population as about 156 million. That would mean that an estimated 26 million rapes of women alone would be perpetrated by psychotic strangers, if the statistics given above were based on a crime that’s not really rape. I tend to believe that stranger is very real and very damaging, but that it’s also very rare. (In searching for articles on rape to compare above, it took me more than 2 hours to find a report on a rape committed by strangers :-s) I also tend to believe that 26 million or so women in America aren’t crazy if they’re raped and recognize that they were raped – even if it was “just” a boyfriend or a mentor that did it.

Humans commit Rape – not Shadows

It’s horrible to think that rape, the kind of crime that everyone agrees is revolting beyond words, isn’t necessarily an act of the depraved. That not only is it common, but that it’s commonly committed by normal people. In other words, you don’t have to be a psycho to rape someone.

What does that mean for the general public? That Joe Blow has the means and equipment to rape his date if he (or she, if we’re talking Jenny Blow?) wants to. Joe Blow can be a doctor, a neighbor, college student, your best friend. Joe Blow can even be you.

The moral, good citizens in us want to think that we can contain rapists in a bin labeled “sick” and keep them away from normal society, but unfortunately it’s not possible. Otherwise we would have to anticipate cases like the woman who poisoned her child, the man who raped the 14-year-old in his church, and basically sequester all of society.

The problem comes, I think, when instead of being over-vigilant, we try to pretend that exceptions to the accepted rule don’t exist. And when they show us that they exist (in the form of incest committed by parents, rape committed by boyfriends and spouses, and sexual abuse committed by child mentors), turning a blind eye and ears because the exception makes us uneasy. It’s like we think that if we accept that there are cases of normal people doing bad things (committing rape), and that those cases are in the majority, that we’re blurring the line of distinction between “good people” and “bad people”.

Blaming the Victim for Your Feelings of Guilt

I want to stress that nobody is at fault for the existence of rapists in society. It disturbs us to our core and it’s human nature to want to assign blame for things going wrong, but please, put the blame where it belongs: on the guilty. You as a normal citizen of society aren’t responsible for the existence of the person next door who raped someone, even though maybe you feel like you could have – or should have – seen it coming and prevented it somehow.

On the other hand, the victim isn’t responsible for having been raped, and you might be surprised to find out that he or she may be feeling equally upset about falling into the “gray area” of rape. It’s embarrassing to realize that you’ve been victimized, but that it wasn’t by a psycho – which would be acceptable by the general public. It can make a victim feel “less than” if they think that their injuries and circumstances surrounding their ordeal means that the real unwanted sexual penetration they know they suffered – that the law recognizes they suffered – isn’t a cause for complaint. It can make a victim feel guilty when they thought they, too, would be protected.

“Do You Think What Happened to Me Was Rape?”

I hope someday we can get away from having to ask or hear questions like this from confused and frightened victims of sexual assault. Maybe even that someday a victim can be confident in seeking help and justice just like the families and friends of murder victims, because of the nature of the crime and regardless of the flavor.

In the meantime, I’ll settle for a little bit of your compassion.

An Upset Reader Wonders if I’m The Blogger Who Cried Rape

5 Sep

I received an e-mail from a male reader named “Chris” over the weekend. He wrote:

E.A.

i stumbled upon your blog and after reading through a number of your posts, i just had to write to you. before i begin allow me to inform you that i am a 41 year old guy and have had 3 female friends that were sexually assaulted:

‘J’ was raped, beaten and left for dead by a stranger that had actually targeted a friend of hers and mistook her for the friend; he’s still in jail and my friends parents blamed her for the attack, because she dressed “sexy”.

‘K’ was raped by a guy she new for 6 months, she’s a black girl living in harlem, he was a black guy (he’s also in jail), the attack left her scarred enough that she won’t date a black guy anymore.

‘H’ was attacked on a subway car but 3 latinos, she put up a fight and in the process they broke her arm and gave her a black eye and while they didn’t rape her they did molest her before she was rescued. one of the attackers was jailed.

the reason i am mentioning the above is because i want to make it clear that i am not “pro-rape”, i am not unsympathetic to the plight of a rape victim nor do i believe that women are put on this planet for men’s personal amusement.

having said that, after reading your blog, i have trouble seeing how you define the second “attack” as a “rape”. here is what you said:

you had been “seeing” ‘N’ for about 2 years and based on your accounts the two of you had been sexually involved up until the day of the “attack”. the reality is that a rapist doesn’t wait 2 years to sexually assault you, if this guy had actually “targeted” you from the first time you met (as you seem to believe) he would have assaulted you the first time you guys went on a date.

you also make it clear that you went to that location willingly and with the intent of having sex; i can tell you as a man, when you have a girl that is with you willingly and for the expressed purpose of having sex with you, it’s very difficult to stop yourself mid act. a perfect example from my life back when i was in my 20’s:

i had a “sex buddy”, let’s call her ‘M’ [Note from E.A.: Chris gives an explicit description of a situation that I don’t think is appropriate for display here, so I cut it out. I read what he described as sex that was agreed upon that went wrong when M started to feel pain.]
the reality is that the entire incident of her complaining about the pain to my pulling out took about 30 seconds, would you consider that as my having raped her? when you’re in that mode and in the middle of the sex act it’s almost impossible to just stop yourself in a split second because at that moment you’re acting on pure biological instinct, it takes a few moments for your cognitive abilities to kick in and for reason to take over and allow you to stop.

it sounds to me like the second “attack” falls in this category and evidence for this is right in your blog:

1) the DA refused to press charges against “N”, despite a recorded “confession”.

2) you have been unable to find an attorney willing to pursue a civil case against him.

3) in your own blog you post an article that if you’ve been raped once you’re statistically likely to be raped again (a mathematically nonsensical claim; your chances of being raped are independent of your rape status, the odds are not cumulative); this shows me that you have a mindset where you expect to be victimized again.

allow me to make this perfectly clear, i sympathize with you 100 percent, no person deserves to be sexually assaulted and while i couldn’t find the details of your first assault on your blog, i will share with you that i have stepped more than a few times to prevent a women from being attacked and had i been present i would have done my best to ensure that you weren’t attacked either.

when i was in college, i “dated” (i honestly don’t know what to call what we had) a girl, let’s call her ‘D’; this girl was adopted and though i didn’t discover this until years later, she had been the victim of incest (hence her adoption). looking back on it, it certainly puts her behavior with me in a light that allows me to understand what transpired between her and i. ‘D’ had numerous intimacy issues, and it was very hard to know how to act around her; while on a date she would spontaneously take my hand and hold it, have me put my arm around her, give me a tight hug, tell me how much she liked me, tell me how if we were married she would be willing to do all sorts of experimenting sexually including light bondage and anal but the very next moment of i tried to caress her face or tell her how beautiful she looked she would pull away in anger and shout at me “don’t touch me!!!” or “no i’m not” (when i told her she was beautiful). this went on for years until i finally told her how i felt about her, i told her i loved her and she responded by telling me she never wanted to speak to me again, that of she had known how i felt about her all along she would have stopped speaking to me years ago and that if i didn’t leave her alone was was going to go to the cops.

quite frankly i was shocked at her reaction, considering we had talked about getting married and having kids and so on, i couldn’t understand what the hell happened. i later found out about the incest and it did put things in perspective, it helped me understand this girl (which 10 years later i still have never spoken to her again) and i was kind of able to make sense of why she “mourned” st. valentine’s day (if you wanted her to go ballistic and get all pissed of all i had to do was buy her flowers or a gift for st. valentine’s day).

‘J’ is an even bigger mess; this is a women (she’s no 44, the attack happened when she was 17 IIRC) who i knew for more than a decade, we had expressed feelings of love for one another, we had been intimate on more than one occasion, we used to wrestle like little kids and yet every once in a while a “trigger” would go off in her head and while we were wrestling and i got her pinned in a compromising position, she would get very hostile and angry and yell at me “get off of me” with a real serious look on her face, one time she had actually punched me in the face and another kicked me in the crotch and after i got off her, her demeanor changed and she was back to normal hugging me and telling me how much i meant.

this woman was very screwed up mentally by the assault, she got very into S&M, she loved tying men up, gagging them and whipping them, beating them, biting them, and off course raping them; basically using a strap on and violently penetrating them anally.

so why have i told you all this? because reading through your blog paints for a me a picture of a young women (you say you’re 25) that went through at least one horrendous incident and who has understandably been scarred. you are also fearful of being attacked again (an understandable reaction) and you are trying to make sense of it all and your blog is an attempt to try to “own” the attack, so as to not let it define you.

if i may allow me to give you a few suggestions, which perhaps you may have either already considered or actually pursued:

1) get yourself some therapy, not from a support group but from a license professional psychiatrist and i would recommend seeing 2 separate ones, a man and a woman, so that you can get the feedback from 2 different viewpoints.

2) i think you would benefit greatly from intense martial arts training and weight lifting; you need to feel strong and confident; i was bullied all the way through high school and was beaten up more times that i can remember. during the summer of my junior into senior year i decided i was tired of being the small, fat kid that always got picked on and started doing 500 pushups and 500 situps a night; by the time school started again i had shot up a couple of inches and suddenly i was in shape and few people would mess with me. after i got out of high school i started lifting weights and studying martial arts religiously and quite frankly it’s come in handy more than a couple of times. i think psychologically you would benefit from such training immensely.

3) lastly, you can’t let these experiences change you to the point where you feel the need to “dress down”; where you feel scared to dress in a manner that’s flattering to you or makes you look attractive and you also shouldn’t let it effect you in such a way that you can’t take a compliment from a guy.

lastly you ask if God cares; i honestly don’t know. part of me wants to point out that when you consider how many wars there have been, how much heartache in mankind’s collective history, all the natural disasters and all the victims of crimes through the ages, one has to wonder if a) there even is a God, in the biblical sense and b) if there is a God if perhaps He is incapable of caring about life forms such as us.

since you have a religious background (‘D’ was a Pentecostal Christian), surely you must know that the bible of full of acts of cruelty by God, a fact that explicitly contradicts John 3:14. i supposed one answer is that since God granted all mankind free will that He does not interfere in mankind’s free exercise of said free will, even when such exercise violates someone else’s free will (because fundamentally most crimes come down to a free will violation, if you really think about it), but this also flies in the face of biblical teachings were disobeying God leads to eternal damnation, thus meaning we have free will that we aren’t supposed to use.

then there is the evolutionary viewpoint of rape, where some anthropologists have postulated that rape is an evolutionary tool left over from our cavemen ancestors that ensured the survival of the species by being an instrument of maximizing dna distribution, thus increasing the likelihood of survival of the human race.

for what it’s worth you have my sympathies for what you’ve been through and i wish you the best, i hope that it wasn’t out of line to email you and i hope that in some small way some of what i wrote either helps you now or in the future.

-chris.

I didn’t want to post the e-mail when I first read it because of the personal friends’ stories he gave, even though he did protect their identities by changing names for initials. But I got a second e-mail from Chris a few hours later that changed my mind:

E.A.

sorry to bother but i just had to write, i just read your account of your first “rape” and you have a very liberal definition of the term and quite frankly i find it a tad offensive that you would actually start a blog claiming you were “raped”, especially when i think of what my poor friends actually went through.

by your own admission you and ‘J’ had been very sexually active and you were an enthusiastic participant in your sexual trysts; you also admit that you “silently consented”; i hate to break this to you but when you’re in a relationship with someone that you claim you were inseparable with and he climbs into bed with you and initiates sexual relations with you and you “silently consent” then you weren’t raped!!!

do you know what rape is? it’s someone trying to have sex with you, you say ‘”no” and they force you to have sex anyway. neither one of your accounts comes anywhere near to being rape.

you need serious help, not because you are a “rape” survivor but because you’re nuts, you have a personality disorder where you feel the need to portray yourself as a victim in order to gain sympathy.

i can’t believe i actually felt sorry for you, thinking you had been the victim of a sexual assault.

Now I’ll share the reply I sent him:

Hello, Chris,

Thanks for writing. I’m a little upset by the way you addressed me especially in your second e-mail titled “first ‘attack’ “, and especially considering the fact that you don’t know me as a person, but I don’t mind trying to explain myself to you once respectfully.

I appreciate that you’re a male, considerably older than me, and I believe all of your accounts of your friends having been raped in the past. I will agree that they suffered ordeals more violent than what I went through, but I think it’s rather judgmental of you to imply that because I wasn’t beaten like your unfortunate friend J or attacked by a stranger like your unfortunate friend H, that my experiences don’t qualify as rape. [Note from E.A.: I addressed the comment he made about his unfortunate friend K, but I cut it out here to preserve my own identity for now.]

I’ll invite you to do a bit of research on Google or the laws in your state/country where you live, and find out for yourself what the legal definition of rape is. Both of my experiences fall under the definition of acquaintance or date rape. According to www.clarku.edu:

“When a person knows his/her attacker (partner, family member, doctor, neighbor, co-worker, etc.) it is considered an “acquaintance rape”.  Because of the personal connection to the perpetrator, the survivor may not classify what has happened as rape.  Acquaintance rapes account for more than 75% of all reported rapes.”

It also seems to be the type of rape that gets the least amount of respect, simply because a common assumption from people who have never experienced rape (such as yourself) is that a victim can’t be acquainted with a “real” attacker. It’s assumed that it’s not possible for a rapist to prime a victim for rape by getting to know them and getting in a position where the victim can be blindsided, in the same way that a robber might ‘case’ a house for weeks before deciding to break in. I left out a lot of details on my blog (my memory of the past 3 years isn’t perfect 100% of the time), but if I had mentioned that one of the first confessions ‘N’ made to me while we were still friends was that his biggest fear was “accidentally raping somebody someday”, would that give my story a little more credibility in your eyes? Because that is what he said, and I foolishly ignored the warning sign. I also ignored the way he laughed at the rape scene in the movie “300”. Why should he have had to assault me on the first day that we went on a date? He had known and gone to church with my relatives for years, and his family is a huge part of that church. It would have been very risky of him to try an assault like that so soon after meeting me, a new girl to his community. But when the assault did finally happen, everybody in the church knew that we had been dating already for a year, and that was a perfect set-up for watering the truth of my story down. This may also be how people who rape their spouses operate – I don’t know, I’m not a rapist, but it’s plausible and spousal rape is recognized as a crime, too, if you would like to look that up.

I did make it clear that I went to the location thinking of having sex, but I was also clear in saying that I didn’t stop N mid-act. I asked him to stop before he held my thighs open and inserted himself, pulled out and pretended he hadn’t done anything, and then inserted himself again and continued to have sex with me until he was finished and I asked him to pull out because of the pain. That’s not consent or changing my mind last minute by any legal definition. I don’t think the situation you described with M is rape, because I have a basic understanding of what rape actually is. I don’t even think the situation you described with M is similar.

You discredit me as a victim for 2 reasons that I never gave on my blog. I did say that the DA ended up dropping charges against N for ‘insufficient evidence’, but I also said that the police who were instructed to collect evidence never did. I had 2 witnesses who were able to attest that they heard N’s confession in full detail, and they were never questioned by the police. I also have text messages from N naming what he did to me as rape. Showing my phone to the DA is what convinced him to accept the case in the first place, so how is the negligence of the criminal justice system proof that I’m a liar? If you check the statistics given on RAINN.org, you’ll find that most reports of rape are ignored and/or never lead to charges. Does that mean that only convicted rapists are real rapists? I also did say that I was unable to find an attorney who would answer my calls – at the time the blog post was written. I’ve found representation since last week. Maybe I should announce that on my blog for anyone who believes I’m full of shit. And in my article about statistically being likely to be raped again, I quoted the statistic I found that I did not make up myself, I vented my upset with that discovery, and I gave my guesses for why that may be the case. I never once said that any rape victim should expect re-victimization.

After the rather harsh e-mail you sent me as a follow-up saying that I have a personality disorder and that I’m a liar, I don’t believe for a second that you’re sympathetic to any claim of rape that didn’t happen to a personal friend of yours, and I know you’re in the majority of insensitive, self-righteous, and clueless people out in the world, the same type of people who made me feel like shit at my church because they couldn’t see me as a human being the same way they saw their friends. I pray someday you’ll change your narrow views, but I won’t stop trying to speak up for others like me if you don’t. My blog is new and I plan to talk about my experience with one-on-one counseling therapy, but thank you for your other suggestion of taking self-defense classes. I should also thank you for giving me inspiration for another blog post.

I’ll treat your words with respect if you’ll do the same for me. There are plenty of writers in the blog universe that will entertain harassment from readers that are not even part of their target audience. I’m not one of them.

E.A.

The post Chris inspired will be up tomorrow, and after that I’ll get back to my series on Sammi Giancola of Jersey Shore. Enjoy your Labor Day, everyone 🙂

“God Does Care”: A Letter of Encouragement from a Rape Survivor

2 Sep

This morning I got an e-mail from a new reader named “Chloe”. With her permission, I’d like to share what she wrote:

Hi E.A,

I just wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog. I found [Willing To Survive] from a search on Fran Drescher.

I am a single mother in my 30s. My 7-year-old son is the product of a date rape. I never spoke about it. I thought about abortion all through my pregnancy and I tried to kill myself so many times. When my son was born I hated him.

I think about the past now and I’m so thankful because I’m not that scared angry girl anymore. Finding a therapy group at a Bible church in my neighborhood helped me in ways I cant even describe. The people in my group taught me how to fall in love with my son, they became my friends, they helped me find confidence and a new job, and they showed me who God is.

I just wanted to answer your question from before and say that God does care about us. If God could show me that he cares, then he can show anyone. You already wrote about my favorite preacher Joyce Meyer, so here’s an inspirational article she wrote. Maybe it can help someone else too. [posted below]

Please keep writing for [Willing To Survive], because people need to know that there is hope and life after rape.

God bless you

Chloe

The article Chloe mentioned can be found here: Abuse and the Miracle of Recovery.

Thank you, Chloe, for sharing your experience and thinking of reaching out to others. I remember how desperate I was for an answer when I wrote my first post about God; your letter of encouragement is so heart-warming. I hope you’ll consider writing here again in the future.

Isolated by Stockholm Syndrome?: More Thoughts on Sammi of “Jersey Shore”

1 Sep

Sammi on one side ... Deena, Jenni "J-Woww", and Nicole "Snooki" on the other (courtesy of WeAllScheme.com)

Yesterday’s post was my first about “Jersey Shore” Sammi Giancola’s abusive relationship with her co-star and boyfriend Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. I’ve decided to write a mini-series on Sammi for 2 reasons: 1) I’m addicted to “Jersey Shore”, and 2) I’m interested in talking about all types of abuse, though rape will remain the focus of this blog.

Please click away now if you can’t stand “Jersey Shore” … I won’t hold it against you!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Defending her man (courtesy of MTV.com)

Back to the Start

Sammi’s claim-to-fame for being on “Jersey Shore”, apart from being half of the most miserable reality TV couple in America, is her epic fight with Jenni “J-Woww” Farley. If you’ve been watching the show, you remember the beef. At the end of season 1, feeling punked by Sammi’s flirtation with other guys as revealed on the reunion show, Ronnie went on a vindictive trip. Season 2 in Miami began with Ronnie partying hard at nightclubs, hooking up with ladies at random, coming home to sleep with Sammi, and the rest of their housemates feeling suffocated by guilt for keeping Ronnie’s secret. Back then, Sammi was like the teased kid at school who doesn’t realize she’s been tagged with a “kick me” sign on her back. She suspected that Ronnie was cheating, but asking never got her any direct answers, and everyone was treating her awkwardly.

“Who Wrote tha Note?”

The guys in the house weren’t going to do it, so Jenni and Nicole took it upon themselves to tell Sammi about what Ronnie had been up to behind her back and put her out of her misery. They wrote an ‘anonymous’ letter detailing all of Ronnie’s dirt and left it out for Sammi to find, but Sammi hated them when she found out. In season 2, Sammi and Jenni faced off. In season 3, Sammi and Jenni faced off again. Sammi briefly left the Jersey Shore after being terrorized by Ronnie and nobody seemed to care that she was gone. Everyone in the house had such a low opinion of her that by the reunion show, the only person who was really still talking to Sammi was season 3’s new addition Deena.

Yesterday I said that I think one of the biggest problems viewers have with Sammi is that she comes across as a complete idiot. Sammi has done some bone-headed things for sure, but is it all really because she’s an airhead, or could it be something more?

Out of control (courtesy of Nj.com)

Stockholm Syndrome

according to Wikipedia.org, is a psychology term used to describe “a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.” It was originally coined to describe kidnapping situations, but has been found in victims of situations like domestic abuse, prisoners of war, cult members, incest, and controlling relationships. A person experiencing Stockholm Syndrome tends to show the following symptoms (found at CounsellingResource.com):

  • Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
  • Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
  • Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors
  • Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
  • Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
  • Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment

Does this sound anything like Sammi?

  • She displayed positive feelings toward Ronnie, even after he cheated on her in season 2 just to get back at her.
  • She displayed negative feelings toward Jenni and Nicole when she found out that they wrote the anonymous letter. She was in 2 fist fights with Jenni over the same issue, and didn’t attempt to make up with the girls until the near end of season 3. She’s also been hateful toward Mike, who once sat her down in season 2 and tried to tell her about Ronnie’s cheating face to face – she uses Mike constantly as an excuse for relationship turmoil with Ronnie, even in season 4.
  • While Sammi may never have come out and said, “I agree with the way Ronnie treats me”, she doesn’t confront him about his painful actions. She will scream and cry, but seems afraid of telling Ronnie things like, “You were dead wrong to trash my side of the room”, “I don’t deserve to be cheated on” (which he just admitted to continuing in this week’s episode), or “You don’t have any right to put your hands on me or scream in my face”. One of the more sickening displays was at the end of season 3 (see the photo below) where everyone in the house tried to shame Sammi for having an old male friend appear at a nightclub to see her so soon after breaking up with Ronnie. She never got upset with Ronnie for being attacked, but put her frustration on her friend and Mike, who exposed her business.
  • It’s clear that Ronnie has positive feelings towards Sammi. It’s not love, but he says in confessionals that he loves her. Sammi’s the only girl Ronnie has had eyes for on the show – unless you count all the girls he made out with at random.
  • Sammi has shown her support of Ronnie’s behavior by fighting with Jenni over his cheating, as well as ganging up on Deena in the first episode of season 3. They also seem to share hate for Mike, who is Ronnie’s worst enemy. And then there are all the screaming matches Sammi has entertained from Ronnie.
  • Sammi definitely seems unable to detach from Ronnie. She’s rarely seen out on her own or with other housemates (although she’s improved a lot in season 4), and doesn’t seem to have or want any interests apart from Ronnie. Even at nightclubs where everyone seems to be having a good time, Sammi is the one that can be found with a drink in hand, watching what Ronnie is doing even while she tries to make herself have fun without him.

Defending herself (courtesy of MTV.com)

Mind control

Not every victim of an abusive relationship has Stockholm Syndrome. From CounsellingResource.com, there are 4 conditions that are usually present in a situation where Stockholm Syndrome is likely to develop:

  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
  • The perceived inability to escape the situation

and the list seems like it’s all there for Sammi and Ronnie. In season 1, Ronnie showed hints of his terrifying nature when he got into a bar fight over Sammi and knocked a guy out cold with one punch. He went to jail. Who wouldn’t be afraid of being on the receiving end of that rage someday? Sammi was attracted to Ronnie’s “juicehead” looks and won over by his normally sweet gestures and apparent adoration of her – so she probably already had a great image of him in her mind when Ronnie’s angry side came out, and would have found it difficult to exchange that for the real Ronnie. By isolating herself from making friendships in season 1 and sticking between Ronnie and Mike, Sammi lost perspective of anything other than Ronnie, and didn’t feel the negative effect of that until he dropped her before season 2. Now that Sammi’s a part of the “Jersey Shore” mill, she’s stuck in living quarters with Ronnie until the show is cancelled or runs its course. Where’s there for her to escape to? The housemates who were turned off by Sammi’s behavior in seasons 2 and 3? Home? Maybe after Italy.

The Lure of Abuse: Why Sammi Giancola of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” is Heading for Destruction

31 Aug

” ‘Jersey Shore’ ? Why would anyone talk about that show on a blog about surviving rape?”

Okay, I admit – I’m addicted to MTV’s reality breakout hit show “Jersey Shore”. I know it’s not the most intelligent programming to be a fan of, but my excuse is I’m still kind of young, single, and just like watching the scene of an accident from the comfort of your car as traffic control police urge you to drive past the damage, with “Jersey Shore” it’s hard to look away. :-p

From an entirely different angle, I’m dedicating myself to speaking out against abuse of any kind. Rape is the focus of my blog because I feel that the topic of rape doesn’t get the amount of attention it needs to be taken as seriously as other crimes that are just as terrible. But I think that any conversation about physical, sexual, emotional, spousal, domestic, elderly, child, or verbal abuse is worthwhile on this blog, too.

Please click away now if you can’t stand “Jersey Shore” … I won’t hold it against you!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

"Jersey Shore" Sammi Giancola and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro (courtesy of DeviantTattooGirls.blogspot.com)

Messing With A Good Thing

Season 4 began with the infamous house couple Ronnie and Sammi broken up, freshly single, and heading from the Jersey Shore to party in Florence, Italy. And really, they should have stayed that way. Ronnie seemed to want to drop Sammi for good, and Sammi was making a lot of commentary about working on herself and just wanting to have a good time. Their relationship was simply too volatile to work. They alienated a lot of fans in season 3 with all of their bullsh – I mean, arguing. I kind of like Sammi (even with her ‘smelling doo-doo’ facial expression and grating voice and being way too into herself and her looks) and wanted to see her better off this season.

But they got back together in episode 3 while viewers around the world screamed a collective “NOOOOOOO!!!”

A preview for episode 4 showed what looked like another classic “Rammi” blowout. The episode aired last week and confirmed that we’re probably in for another season of intervention-worthy fighting. Drunk Sammi spilled out her fears of Ronnie cheating again, causing a brawl between Ron and Mike ‘The Situation’ when she named Mike as the one who informed her about Ron’s desire to hook up with 5 girls in one night. Episode 5 airs in my neighborhood tomorrow, and although I don’t know what happens to Mike yet (looks like the guy may have flat-lined thanks to Ronnie), I’m pretty sure of one thing: Sammi has to get the hell out of this relationship before Ronnie kills her.

More drama (courtesy of BSideBlog.com)

HelpGuide.org has a list of questions to ask yourself if you’re worried that you might be in an abusive relationship., and Sammi and Ronnie’s relationship answers positively to most of them, including:

Does your partner (Ronnie):

  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • blame you for their own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • destroy your belongings?

Do you (Sammi):

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

What’s changed since they got back together? Nothing. But what is kind of stunning and at the same time sad is, Sammi came into season 4 looking dead serious about moving on from the hell that was “Rammi” Season 3. Unlike her previous appearances, Sammi stayed out of bed – all day! – and interacted with the rest of the cast in the house, and stayed away from Ron. It was obvious that it was hard for her and she admitted to missing his company (who would find it easy to live with their ex just after a break-up?), but Sammi never initiated any contact with Ron … unless she was drunk. She told the cameras that she knew how destructive their relationship was for the both of them, but in the heat of a packed nightclub with a few cocktails tossed back to blur her vision and her judgment, watching the only guy she had feelings for – however dangerous – getting close to other girls had to make her terribly alone. Being lonely is probably why Sammi decided to take Ronnie back just one more time, even though she had to basically pretend that everything that had ever gone wrong in their relationship was her fault, and ignore the fact that Ronnie once broke her reading glasses just to hurt her.

“He beats her but she stays, so she must love it.”

Sammi’s case is also an example of how hard it is to motivate yourself to get out of an abusive situation. When you live with someone that’s abusing you, you’re in contact with that person constantly. That’s a huge amount of opportunity to get inside your head, twist your thinking, and have you depending on your abuser for sanity. It’s easy to grow to feel like, if you can somehow convince your abuser of not wanting to harm you anymore, you’ll be justified in thinking you’re worth anything better. After all, your abuser is someone who is supposed to love you by the sheer nature of your relationship to him or her – because he or she is your parent, your relative, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your spouse. If he or she can’t see anything in you that’s worth loving and protecting, why should anyone else be able to? Right?

No.

Sammi will never read this blog, but I really believe she’s a combination of low self-worth and bad friends and family, who doesn’t deserve all the hate she gets for being an idiot. Run, Sammi, run! After all, this wasn’t too long ago:

Season 3 in a nutshell (courtesy of Crushable.com)

My Mother Hates Me … and I’m Okay With It

30 Aug
yelling

Mom yelling (courtesy of DisciplineProject.com)

You may have already read about the first and second time I was raped, and the nightmare that followed. In the past I’ve also mentioned that I was once a victim of emotional and physical abuse. Today I wonder if that set the tone for life as an adult punching bag, especially after I read the news story of a mother who tried to hide rape in her family by taking her pregnant mentally disabled daughter to get an abortion.

My Family

I’ve always felt there was something “not right” about my relationship with my mother. I didn’t think about the relationship I had with my father as much, because … well, there was no relationship. My parents divorced when I was four years old and my brother was two, and since then I can count the number of times I’ve seen him on one hand. I remember enough of him from back then to know that he was physically abusive towards my mother – apart from the stories my mother tells me about him, I recall him driving her out to a bridge one night trying to get her to commit suicide, and perforating one of her eardrums during a row. My mother moved my brother and I away from him, and remarried shortly after when I was about seven. This is where most of my memories start.

I was lucky to have a stepfather that took my brother and I as his own children and loved us accordingly. But there was never anything other than pure hatred from my mother. Growing up she made my brother and I feel as though we were meant to apologize for the biological father that we had by frightening us with stories of what he did to her in graphic detail, whether we wanted to hear them or not (and it was 99.9% of the time, an emphatic not). She insulted and teased us for inheriting most of our father’s physical traits, trying to make us feel ugly and barbaric. When we brought any school grade below an A+ home to show, we were called “stupid”, “retarded” – but I can’t think of any one time when we were rewarded for an achievement.

She finally had two children by my stepfather, and from then on we would hear nonstop about us being the throwaways. Sometimes she would hit us, but it was rare (I think, because it was so terrible and my stepfather wouldn’t stand for it). I’ve been struck with a table lamp. I’ve been told several times that she’d kill me. But what made me fear her the most was her cold, indifferent and hateful stare. I got the stare whenever I cried, whenever I screamed, whenever I was sick, or whenever I looked directly at her. I saw it was the day she kicked me out of her house, less than a week after my stepfather died of terminal cancer 4 years ago.

And I kept going back to her with my tail between my legs, because I didn’t trust myself to be independent – to be anything other than what my mother thought of me.

The lights in my head turned on only after I tried to go home one last time, when I was laughed out of my church community and cast away by the criminal justice system in a city of supposed ‘new beginnings’. I hoped that if I told my family about what had happened to me, my mother would welcome me back with tears in her eyes. Instead she ranted and raved to my siblings about how much of a failure I was, while I sat in her living room crying. I picked up my suitcase and left.

Emotionally Abusive Parents

Eqi.org gives some common characteristics of emotionally abusive parents that help to paint a clearer picture of what such caretakers are like:

Each parent was emotionally abused by their parents. There is a high chance they were also physically abused or physically punished harshly, even if it was called “discipline”

The parents lay guilt trips on their children and teenagers.

The parents make their children and teens feel responsible for the feelings of the parents.

The parents invalidate their children and teens.

The parents are unforgiving.

The parents are judgmental.

The parents frequently disapprove of the child or teen’s actions or feelings.

The parents emotionally abandon and or emotionally neglect their children and teens.

They may also:

– Ridicule the child or teen

– Mock the child or teen

– Humiliate the child or teen

– Ignore the child or teen

– Threaten the child or teen either with punishment, rejection or abandonment

And from Deal.org, I found this definition:

“Emotional abuse is commonly defined as the systematic tearing down of another human being. Like most forms of violence, emotional abuse is based on power and control over another person. It is probably the least understood of abuses, although it is the most prevalent and most destructive. The victim comes to see him or herself as unworthy of love, affection and respect. “

which sounds eerily similar to what rape and sexual abuse do to a person.

Accept That You’re Innocent

Knowing this today helps me to feel a bit better about letting my parents go. Being raped or sexually abused is never the victim’s fault, and neither is being born to parents who are incapable of or simply refuse to love their children appropriately. The blame belongs to the rapist, the molester, and the deadbeat father or mother. Society may try to blame you for being the victim of either situation, by saying you were “fast” or “tempting with that outfit”, or by saying that “no parent hates their child” and you’re “just a brat”. You weren’t any of those things. You were simply targeted.

When Parents Prime Their Children For Abuse

29 Aug

If you took a look at your local newspaper this morning (especially if you live in the state of Ohio) or read some of the Google headlines today, you might have come across this article at LifeNews.com: “Mom Uses Abortion to Hide Rape of Mentally Disabled Daughter”

Here are some of the most poignant quotes from the story:

A Houston, Texas mother stands accused of taking her adopted mentally disabled daughter to Ohio to get an abortion in an effort to conceal the fact that her son raped her daughter.

According to a KTRK-TV report, Cynthia Greenwood, 50 faces charges of tampering and fabricating evidence because she took her daughter for the abortion after police began investigating the alleged rape. Officials tell the ABC television station that they believe Greenwood took her mentally disabled girls to Cleveland, Ohio for the abortion in an effort to conceal DNA evidence that could have otherwise been obtained to prove the rape charges.

Isaac Greenwood, 19, is reportedly the father of the baby. He is Cynthia green’s biological son and is suspected of raping the unnamed daughter, who is 13 now and was 12-years-old at the time of the rape. Officials say she told her father about what happened and she is now in foster care.

The article goes on to comment on the problem Ohio reportedly has with a number of its Planned Parenthood centers performing abortions on young victims who are made pregnant by their assault, and hiding these crimes from the criminal justice system. Gross negligence by companies which claim to care for the vulnerable sector of society is disgusting enough, but I’ll leave that topic alone for today.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse turns my stomach so much because it usually is a violation of a person’s trust by someone he or she knows in a position of power over the victim. Sexual abuse frequently happens at the hands of a spouse, older sibling, relative, neighbor, friend, friend’s parent, teacher, mentor … the list goes on. It does happen and it shouldn’t be overlooked, but sexual abuse from a stranger is rare simply because the molester doesn’t get the opportunity to come in contact with his or her victim more than a few times. When the violation happens once or for a very short period of time – say, over a few days before the molester disappears from contact forever – it’s called a sexual assault rather than sexual abuse.

Here is a case of the most common kind of sexual abuse: abuse that happens within a family. If the allegations turn out to be true (and really, why would a 12-year-old girl lie about something so horrendous?), then a mother decided to protect her deviant son from facing the consequences of the crime he committed against his younger sister, rather than protect her innocent daughter from a life-changing nightmare. Her actions made it clear that she valued her daughter’s safety less than she valued their family’s image. She was willing to put her young, mentally disabled daughter, her own flesh and blood, through the additional trauma of enduring an abortion on top of the abuse she had suffered, just to protect her own neck and her deviant son’s. And the article mentions that the girl first told her father about the abuse, if I read it correctly. Why didn’t he stop this from happening?

Parents who can’t be trusted

Parents are the first set of adults a child learns to model themselves after, and they are the ones who are responsible for teaching their children how to function in the world when they grow up. If a child grows up without being able to trust their parents for basic needs such as safety and love, where is he or she supposed to find the foundation to build a normal life on as an adult? Now this poor girl may be psychologically damaged for life, and God forbid find herself in more abusive situations as an adult, all because that was what she learned was normal growing up. I really pray she will find a foster home with caretakers who are able and willing to care for her the way her birth parents should have, but refused to do for their daughter.

I have a personal beef with people who have children and choose not to love them, in addition to the beef I have with people who rape. Tomorrow’s post may be a good opportunity to explain why I feel the way I do about lousy parents.