All Articles Tagged "rape"
By Kasey Woods
One day, not too long ago, at the same time as the rays of the morning sun began to creep over the jagged sidewalks of Brooklyn, I was being sexually assaulted in a building hallway.
What started off as a ride home from a friend’s friend, after a night out, ended with me involved in an aggressive, hostile and combative situation where I narrowly escaped being raped. My aggressor wanted me to just accept what was happening. “Come on baby. Just chill” he uttered to me as if it were my fault my attack wasn’t going smoothly. He wanted me to stop fighting back. He wanted me to stop repeatedly saying no. He wanted me to stop yelling at him to leave. He wanted me to just shut up and accept his fingers being jammed into my vagina. He wanted me to not be horrified when I realized he was attempting to enter me with his penis. He wanted me to meekly allow him to shove my head into the wall and use his weight to suppress my power. He wanted me to be an easy conquest, but I wasn’t. I fought back, and I fought hard.
The guilt lingers in a way that you never completely shake off. I spent most of the immediate hours after my attack rewinding every intricate, minute detail of the evening to see where I could have gone wrong. What could I have done differently? I mean, he was nice. Annoying, but nice. Damn, did I let that goodbye hug at the end of the night linger too long? What about when he grabbed my butt by his car? I just told him to stop and keep his hands to himself – maybe I should have become more irate. Why did I accept his offer to take me home instead of just calling an Uber? Maybe I could have avoided this. Maybe I share the blame. These thoughts and others seeped in and out of my mind for hours as a cried on my friend’s couch until my eyes were dry and pained.
After urgings from my network and support system, I went to the hospital to be examined. What resulted was me being treated by a staff of doctors and nurses who were not only completely untrained in interacting with women who have been violated in such a manner, but were also quite literally ill-equipped to handle sexual assault cases. Aspects of my exam had to be postponed because the hospital did not possess the items necessary to do them. My doctor, a third-year resident, admitted sheepishly that I was only the second sexual assault case he had ever directly handled. Though he was nice, and his demeanor helped provide a light during a very dark situation, watching him bumble through the numerous steps of my rape kit was unsettling, at times, to say the least. The seven hours I sat in that hospital combined with the intrusive and invasive nature of my exam opened my eyes to why so many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. Who wants to feel violated again? At one point, I almost stood up and left after yet another hour had passed. But I understood why I needed to stay there and complete the process and not give up.
Even while at the hospital, as I waited for hours, my thoughts continued to churn obsessively in my head. Did I even deserve to be there? There are women and men who have been brutally raped and abused, does what happened to me even count? Did I get all the details right? Am I willing to press charges and possibly ruin someone’s life? I mean it’s not like I was raped…
So many women go through this type of violation and would rather blame themselves instead of the person who assaulted them. This becomes even more convoluted when the person that breaches various levels of trust is someone you know. But honestly, who do we really know anymore? Instagram posts and Facebook pages provide a false sense of security and familiarity that the people we allow in our lives often haven’t earned.
Though I was able to halt my attack before I was raped, before getting the results of my rape kit, I was unable to confirm with absolute certainty that the numerous penetrations that occurred as I was shoved on that wall in that pitch dark hallway in Brooklyn, were solely his fingers and not his penis as well. But it doesn’t matter. I was sexually assaulted. I was violated. And for the two minutes (that felt like 20) that I fought with a guy who three hours earlier seemed like a perfectly fine individual, my body felt like it was no longer mine.
If I had any doubt about the nature of my encounter, I don’t anymore. Nothing says I was sexually assaulted like filling a prescription for your preventative HIV/AIDS medications.
But this article is bigger than my story, and I don’t want sympathy. I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it were bestowed on me anyway. What I want is to offer empathy to others who have endured any type of sexual assault. Please know that there are various levels of violation that constitute sexual assault so don’t believe that your experience doesn’t count. If an individual has any type of sexual contact with you and you 1.) Did not give your consent or 2.) Explicitly said no, then you have been sexually assaulted. Simple. No long definition and thesis needed to explain that one. Our bodies are ours, and every one of us deserves to be safe and protected from harm.
Let’s face it, completely eradicating sexual violence on women (and men – 9 percent of sexual assault cases are men) is sadly impossible. But hopefully by continuing to discuss these issues aloud, demanding justice and providing support, resources and adequate assistance to those who have been violated, will enable more sexual assault victims to come forward with their stories.
On Thursday (Aug. 13), an 11-year-old girl from Asunción, Paraguay gave birth to a baby girl after allegedly being raped by her stepfather.
Paraguay, a mostly Catholic country, has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world: banning abortions unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. Just last year alone, 684 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth. Most minors have been victims of sexual abuse, according to government figures.
In April, her mother took her to the hospital after she complained of abdominal pain. The girl’s stepfather, Gilberto Benitez Zárate, 42, was arrested and charged with rape and abuse of a child. He has denied the charges brought against him and demanded a DNA test to prove his innocence. In May, the mother was also arrested and charged with child neglect and complicity. Although she was released on bond in June, she still faces charges. She told CNN that she reached out to authorities for help back in November 2013: “I was the one who reported all of this, asking for justice to be done and hoping that something would be done, but prosecutors dismissed the case. Otherwise, this would have never gotten to this point.”
However, Paraguayan Health Minister Antonio Barrios told CNN that neighbors were the ones who had actually reported the abuse, while the mother denied accusations against her husband.
While the mother wanted her daughter to have an abortion, Paraguayan authorities refused. According to Health minister Antonio Barrios, even in this situation, an abortion would be a violation of Paraguayan law. “We’re totally against interrupting the pregnancy,” Barrios said in May. “The girl is getting assistance permanently in a shelter and the pregnancy is progressing normally without a problem.”
Human rights groups, like Amnesty International, have supported the mother’s side. On Thursday, (Aug. 13) Erika Guevara, Amnesty’s Americas director, said that the fact that the girl did not die “does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape victim and a child.”
Paraguayan government gave no comment regarding Thursday’s birth at Asunción Red Cross Director Mario Villalba. The hospital reports that the baby and mother “are in good health condition” and are being closely monitored.
A bit of slut-shaming disguised as an anti-rape public service announcement made its way around the Internet this past weekend.
Several popular gossip and news sites have been giving high praise to this alleged anti-rape video, which was done by a YouTube prankster who calls himself JoeySalads.
According to Salads, he conducted these social experiments on unsuspecting real people as a way to raise awareness of how easy it is to slip women date rape drugs. Because who else is better equipped to give life lessons about rape prevention than a douche bag in a smedium Ed Hardy-esque T-shirt who is named after roughage?
Anyway, armed with a pocket full of real roofies, a chest full of male entitlement and hidden cameras, Joey Potato Salad sets his target on the lunch crowd at an unidentified lounge, possibly in upstate New York. In one scenario, a woman walks away from the bar, leaving her drink under the unwatchful eye of a male companion. While her companion turns his head to talk to someone else, Joey Ceasar Salad slips a roofie into her beverage. When she returns to the bar to finish minding her business, he instructs her to not drink that and confesses that he dropped a roofie into her beverage. The shocked woman and her companion are all like, “What? Why the hell would you do that?” And Joey Bean Salad is like, never mind why I would put something illegal into your drink. The real question here is, why didn’t you know that I was a douche bag? Couldn’t you tell by my boy band hair that I was a douche bag? Tsk, tsk. Then he gives her, and not her inattentive companion who she entrusted to have her back, a lecture about date rape drugs and how fortunate she was that Joey Fruit Salad didn’t decide to rape her that afternoon. Message.
In another scenario, Joey Coleslaw walks up to an unsuspecting couple seated by themselves, again minding their own business, at the pier. While they are looking out at the ocean, likely thinking about how much they hate salads, Joey Cheese Slaw decides to slip a pill into the woman’s drink. When they turn around to discover the Jersey Shore reject hovering over them, he says again, dont drink that because I put something in it. And the couple is like, “What? Who is this guido? Security…” That’s when Joey Ambrosia gets on his bottle of Newman’s Own Creamy Balsamic Dressing and flies away before the partner of this woman could get the idea in his mind to rightfully beat the crap out of him.
Joey Crab Louie runs his little scheme on a couple of other victims before closing out the video with a request to “please spread this message to protect young women.” So in an effort to do my civic duty and help get the word out, I’m telling young women that JoeySalads is a got-damn d**khead.
Seriously, what’s next? Is JoeySalads going to snatch a couple of purses to show how we should always be prepared with track shoes just in case we have to chase down a perp? Or is JoeySalads going to walk up and stab people to show us why we should be wearing body armor while walking around the streets? Or is JoeySalads going to rob a bank to let you know how easy it is to pull an Oceans 11? What I’m trying to ask is how does a person’s ability to commit a crime prove that the victims of said crime are at fault?
And how come the targets are only women? Men too can be slipped a Mickey and men too are victims of sexual assault. Yet this garbage-a** warning about the dangers of date rape drugs is only directed at women. It’s harassment, plain and simple. And it is done to women as a way to shame them for no other reason than the fact that they are women. If this were a real anti-rape public service announcement, Joey Panzanella would be pulling instructional pranks on douche bag rapists who think it is okay to encroach on someone’s space and not the victims.
For some reason, society has it in its mind that the only way to ensure the safety of women is if we womenfolk walk around feeling paranoid all of the time about being raped and abused. And yet, with all of these rules and so-called protections, a person finds themselves a victim of sexual assault ever 107 seconds here in America alone. The victims are as young as babies and as old as great-grandmothers. Very few of these stories involve how a woman, or child, is dressed or whether or not she left her drink unattended. So if we are truly interested in helping women, perhaps it is time we change the narrative?
After all, If a woman did an anti-nut kicking video by walking around in steel-toe boots and kicking men in the testicles and then saying, “See, I did that to prove a point that you shouldn’t be walking around with your nuts exposed,” that wouldn’t make a bit of sense, now would it?
On second thought, kicking dudes in the nuts might make for a great campaign…
Wisconsin lawmakers from the Grand Ol’ Party are demanding an apology from Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor, a rape survivor, who used the word “rape” to describe the poor treatment of schools by the state.
Here is the contentious statement, according to Raw Story:
“For years, individuals who sit on this committee and in this building have known that they have been raping the children of MPS,” Taylor had said during a Joint Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday.
The Democratic senator added that she understands how caustic the word “rape” sounds, “but when you consider the fact that 15 out of 100 kids can read on grade level while $89 million have been skimmed from the education of kids…who are you fooling?”
GOP-ers immediately demanded an apology from Taylor.
“Shameful,” Republican state Rep. John Jagler complained on Twitter.
State Rep. Jim Steineke (R) said that the analogy was “unconscionable.” He noted that if one of the Republican lawmakers made the same remark, the backlash would have been severe.
“They would be all over us, asking for that person’s head,” he noted. “Yet, when one of their own says something like this – it’s crickets.”
But Taylor said that she, as a sexual assault victim, chose her words with care.
“As a survivor, I understand the cumulative effect of their policies. Our children deserve the very best,” Taylor explained. “It was painful for me, yesterday. It was painful. It was painful for me. I understand that pain. That pain equates for me,” she told WKOW 27.
In response to the Republican criticism, Taylor says she has come to grips with the fact that “everyone can’t understand the pathway, the valley that gets me to the seat that I sit in.”
But Steineke won’t back off Taylor without pulling a “sorry” out of her:
“Sen Taylor doubles down on rape comparison. Being victimized yourself should make you more sensitive, not less #wiright #WomenDeserveBetter,” he tweeted.
What do you think? Did Taylor take it too far in using “rape” as a comparison to poor school funding?
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) May 20, 2015
Last year, we wrote about Emma Sulkowicz and her brave and artistic protest against her alleged rapist, Jean-Paul Nungesser and the school they both attended, Columbia University.
In case you missed the story, Sulkowicz told Columbia that Nungesser raped her and they failed to do anything about it. She then filed a police report. She told authorities that she and Nungesser had a consensual, sex on two occasions. But later, when the two reunited to have consensual sex again, things turned violent. According to Sulkowicz, Nungesser hit her across her face, choked her and pushed her knees to her chest, leaning on them to keep them in place. He then held her wrists and penetrated her anally.
Unfortunately, Sulkowicz wasn’t the only woman who alleged Nungesser had assaulted them as well. The university told her they were not responsible. And when she went to the police they didn’t take her seriously either, going so far as to tell her that 90 percent of rape cases were “bullshit.”
So in response to the unfair treatment she received from both the University and the police department, she turned her horrific experiences with not only the rape but the university and the authorities into an art piece called “Carry That Weight.” For the piece Sulkowicz carried her mattress around with her, every day on campus for as long as she attended the same school as her rapist.
Naturally, a girl carrying around a dorm mattress caused quite a bit of attention for Sulkowicz and the University.
Eventually, Columbia investigated the matter and found there wasn’t enough evidence to punish Nungesser.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sulkowicz carried the mattress for nine months. In the meantime, Nungesser, who was the first to reveal his identity after Sulkowicz started receiving nation-wide attention, filed a lawsuit against Columbia for allowing what he says was sustained harassment against him. He wanted the lawsuit to ban Sulkowicz from carrying the mattress.
Though the school sent out graduation guidelines barring students from bring “large objects which could interfere with the proceedings or create discomfort to others,” Sulkowicz, like she had been doing for almost a year, brought her mattress.
She graduated from Columbia, along with Nungesser, magna cum laude on Tuesday. She, along with four other graduates helped her carry the mattress as she walked across the stage. Other students wore red tape in solidarity, referencing No Red Tape, Columbia’s anti-sexual assault activist group. Many are reporting that when Sulkowicz crossed the stage, she refused to shake the University President’s hand.
Check out the video of Sulkowicz and the other ladies helping her carry that mattress.
It’s so easy for us to demonize the homeless. We assume that they are lazy, dirty, addicted to some type of substance, or just ultimately responsible for landing in their current situation. Rarely, do we consider the fact that sometimes life is just hard. And homeless doesn’t necessarily equate to a deficiency in character.
Example: Ketrell Ferguson, a recently homeless man in Washington, D.C. The local NBC affiliate reports that around 3:30 a.m. Ferguson was looking for a place to sleep when he heard screams and noticed a struggle between a man and woman, behind a bus stop. Initially, he thought it was a robbery, but when he continued looking he realized the man on top of this woman was trying to rape her.
Acting quickly, Ferguson grabbed a stick that was laying nearby and a half of a brick. Ferguson, who said he’s had family members who’ve been raped, said he had to do something.
“As soon as he lifted his head up, I smacked him with the stick, hard as I could in his head. And he fell off the lady, stumbled, stumbled and I smacked him again. And I just kept smacking him with the stick, I mean, as hard as I could.”
Then he went to a nearby building and told them to call the police, that there had just been a rape.
Ferguson’s actions helped police find 23-year-old Alemen Gonzalo about an hour later. He was bleeding from the head.
Police say that Gonzalo tried to pay the woman for sex and she refused.
He was charged with assault with the intent to commit first-degree sexual abuse.
Ferguson said, “Even though I’m going through hard times, God put me in a place where I could help. I was at the right place at the right time.”
I’ve been gravely disappointed during this ongoing Cosby scandal. Partially because the Bill Cosby I’d watched and admired was now marred by this scandal but mostly because of the people in my circles who tried to demonize the women who spoke out against him. After all, I never knew Bill Cosby. I do, however, know the family members, friends, distant associates and others who asked questions like “why are these women just now coming forward?”
This type of thought pattern just showed that there is a gross ignorance among people about sexual assault and what happens, emotionally and psychologically, to the women who have endured it.
And while I’ve tried to fight the good fight on my Facebook page and in conversations where it happened to come up, explaining that there is no set way to process trauma; now there is empirical, anecdotal evidence to support what I had been saying all along, especially as it pertains to Black women.
A New York based human right’s organization, called Black Women’s Blueprint, is conducting an ongoing study which found that nearly 60 percent of Black women have been involved in a coercive sexual assault by the time they are 18-years-old.
And in relaying her own story, one of these women explained in an article with Raw Story why it’s so hard for Black women to report their sexual assaults to the authorities.
If we report our assaults to police, we risk being retraumatized not only by the inhumane process of reliving a violent experience through sharing its gory details – but also by the violence of the criminal justice system itself , which treats rape victims like suspects . Worse yet, the police themselves commit assault with impunity ; often, they target black women in particular , knowing our existence at the intersections of racism and misogyny make crimes against us far less likely to be investigated .
To be a “ good rape victim ” is to immediately report your assault to the police (even knowing you will likely never see “justice” ), but to be a good black person is to avoid the police entirely because your life quite literally depends on it . The tightrope walk is impossible.
These words sound alarmingly like the ones Beverly Johnson wrote when she detailed her sexual assault with Cosby. You might recall that she hesitated coming forward because, with all the racial tension in the country these days, she didn’t want to be the Black woman attempting to drag a Black man down.
She knew before the essay was even published that she would be in for a world of scrutiny and judgement.
And she was right. My heart broke as I watched people, some of them MN readers (women), call Johnson everything but a child of God for daring to step forward with this story.
If Johnson, with her illustrious career and the respect she’s earned in the industry, was torn down in this way, imagine what happens to the “unknown” women who tell their doubting family members and law enforcement officers about their own sexual assaults? The outcome is not likely to provide any closure. In fact, the experience of being doubted, questioned or further victimized might just result in even more trauma.
To paraphrase one of my Facebook and real life friends: ladies and gentlemen, the women in your life, who’ve been quietly living with the secrets and burdens of their own sexual assaults, are watching you and your reaction to this whole Bill Cosby situation, wondering if they should continue to remain silent and whether or not you’ll doubt them too.
Houston held more than 6,600 untested rape kits — some dating back almost 30 years. Last year, the city finally stepped in with a $6 million initiative to clear the backlog of potential DNA evidence. According to the Associated Press, 850 samples matched DNA profiles found on the FBI’s forensic criminal database.
Efforts to test the backlogged rape kits were launched in 2013 and so far, charges have been filed against 29 people — six of whom have convicted. The defendants, according to the AP, received sentences ranging from two to 45 years. One case was thrown out, though, after a victim decided not to press charges.
“Now that the testing of these kits is complete, we know that it’s up to us to finish the job and to seek justice for these victims. The ball is in our court and we will do our best to put the people who are responsible for these heinous crimes behind bars for as long as possible,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker said of the $5.9 million initiative.
Law enforcement officials are continuing the review the DNA matches to pursue other suspects.
So why did it take so long for Houston to test these rape kits? Analyzing these samples are costly; the AP notes that testing can run from $500 to $1,000 per kit. But “advocates argue that the lack of testing signals that sex crimes haven’t always been law enforcement priorities,” the media outlet said.
Parker added that Houston isn’t the only city with backlogged rape kits. Memphis, Detroit, and Cleveland all have 12,000, 11,000, and 4,700 backlogged rape kits, respectively.
“This is not a Houston problem. It’s not a Texas problem. It’s a nationwide issue that built up over years and years,” Parker said.
Testing these rape kits not only helps victims of sexual assault, but assists in putting suspects behind bars by matching their DNA with other crimes they may have committed.
Rape kits feature biological and physical evidence gathered from rape victims that are later analyzed to see if they match a suspect’s DNA. The results are uploaded to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
Stacey Dash Apologizes For Implying ‘Naughty’ Rape Victims Are To Blame For Assaults, Calls It “Failed Attempt At Humor”
We told you over the weekend that Stacey Dash put her foot in her mouth for the umpeenth time recently with comments she made about rape victims. This time though, it seems that she finally realized she went a little too far.
In case you missed her comments on Fox News’ “Outnumbered,” Dash pulled out the whole, “don’t put yourself in a compromising situation” argument, as opposed to the “don’t rape folks” argument. It all started because the panelists were speaking on the University of Virginia’s decision to ban sorority members from fraternity parties this past weekend during their “big recruitment drive.” They tried to create these new rules as they reinstated fraternities on campus. Fraternities on UVA’s campus were suspended last November, after allegations of rape, including a story of a gang rape that was published in Rolling Stone (but was found to have some major discrepancies), surfaced. Here are Dash’s thoughts on the ban, as well as Dartmouth’s choice to ban hard alcohol for on-campus parties in the hopes of warding off “extreme behaviors”:
“Ridiculous. And I think the girls, I think it’s a good thing, for the good girls, to you know…
Women, sorry, not to be told, ‘stay home, be safe.’ The other bad girls–bad women–are the ones who like to be naughty, might go out and play and get hurt and then, you know…But the other thing about this is that it then blames the alcohol instead of the person who over-drinks. So it’s like, the same thing with guns. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Alcohol doesn’t get you drunk; you get yourself drunk.”
“After a failed attempt at humor about ‘good girls’ and ‘naughty girls,’ during my recent appearance on Outnumbered, I transitioned to the very serious issue of men blaming alcohol for their vile behavior. LET ME BE CLEAR: I am a victim of physical and sexual abuse. My point was that there IS NO EXCUSE for a man taking advantage of women under any circumstances. I believe that these universities focusing on alcohol consumption as a means to stop evil behavior takes the focus off the real issue of the objectification of women and how that can be prevented. I apologize to anyone who believed I was blaming the victims of these horrible acts.”
Nice apology, but the comments Dash made on “Outnumbered” definitely don’t sound like she was saying that there is no excuse for a man to take advantage of a woman. More like, ladies, don’t go out and be naughty, fellas, don’t get drunk and take advantage of people. But you can check out her statements for yourself below and make up your mind on what Dash was really trying to say:
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in Detroit discovered 11,000 untested rape kits in the Detriot police storage unit five years ago. Yesterday, the Prosecutor’s Office announced they, alongside two nonprofits, will raise $10 million in order for these kits to be investigated and prosecute the attackers. In order to raise the funds and justice for victims, the Prosecutor’s office and nonprofits are depending on individuals and businesses to donate financially, therefore, creating a “solving rape case charity.”
Since the untested kits have been found, 2,000 kits have been tested and 670 of them have found a DNA match in order to identify the attacker. The Detroit Free Press says 188 serial rapists have been identified in these cases, including 15 who have been convicted of their crimes. Among these 15 attackers, Shelly Andre Brooks, who raped and murdered several women, is now serving a life sentence.
It’s possible some of his crimes could have been prevented if previous rape kits were tested. Wayne County’s Prosecutor Kym Worthy, a sexual assault victim herself, has made it her mission to end these injustices against victims. Her office has earned money to test the remainder of rape kits with the help of 29-year-old nonprofit Michigan Women’s Foundation.
“We’re trying to change the way sexual assault (investigations are) handled in this county,” Worthy said. She was raped in law school but failed to report her attack because she feared it would derail her law career.
The fundraising campaign to test the rape kits is called Enough SAID (Sexual Assault In Detroit) and has acquired $750,000. The state of Michigan has set aside $4 million to test the kits in Detroit and all the kits are expected to be tested with results by the end of May. Despite the silver lining in this cloud, money would also be needed for investigations and prosecutions. The Michigan Attorney General says it will set aside $3 million to prosecute cases for the next three years. More will be needed to solve the thousands of leftover cases. Authorities noted rapists will rape (on average) 11 times and usually commit other crimes.
Untested rape kits are not unique to Detroit. The Detroit Free Press breaks down how many untested rape kits there are in other cities:
Memphis: more than 12,000.
Cleveland: nearly 4,000
Tulsa, Okla.: more than 3,700
Las Vegas, more than 4,000
Dallas, 4,144 (testing is in progress)
Toledo: 2,300 (testing in progress)
To help with this cause and end the streak of untested rape kits in the nation, donate to Enough SAID.