The Victims of Rape
Rape is a crime that not only takes hurts someone for the moment, but it shatters their entire life. Most women never fully recover from being a victim of rape. There are all different types of women who are raped each day, yet there tends to be a specific profile for the most frequent rape victims. There are many factors that come into play when dealing with rape, such as: the victim-offender relationship, alcohol consumption, and a prior record. Also there are many myths about the rape victim. Rape is an extremely sensitive issue for women, victims and non-victims alike.
The Uniform Crime Reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey indicate that Black and Hispanic women are at a higher risk for being a victim of rape than White women. Women from ages 20-24 are the most likely to experience rape crime. Women with less education and lower income are also at a higher risk of becoming a victim of rape. Those women that are in the lowest family income category experience the highest rate of rape. Also the women who reside in the city are twice vulnerable to rapes than that of women who live in suburban or rural areas. Finally, unmarried women tend to be victimized more than married women. Thus, the model rape victim would be a black, unmarried female with little to no education, ranging from ages 20- 24, who lives in a central city, obtaining a low income.
Fifty-five percent of women are victimized by someone whom they know; the remaining are raped by a stranger according to The National Crime Victimization Survey Report. A stranger injures sixty percent of women in some way during a rape.
Regardless of the relationship between the victim and offender, most women report their victimization. More females who know their offender do not report the rape, than those whose offenders are strangers. Women are more likely to report a rape victimization if she sustained a serious injury, she required any type of immediate medical attention, or if the offender used a weapon in the crime. Bachman?s study confirmed the findings of the NCVS report. In analyzing the relationship between the rape victim reporting the crime and their social/economic status, found that victims of a lower social/economic status report the rape more frequently than those of a high status.
Amir?s study of forcible rapes concluded that the presence of alcohol in the victim only occurred in ten percent of the victimizations. Richardson and Campbell found that the victim was considered to be more responsible for the rape when she was drunk. The victim was liked less and perceived to be more immoral and aggressive when she was under the influence of alcohol. However, Norris and Cubbins suggested that the man was attributed a higher degree of responsibility than the women, when both had consumed alcohol.
In a series of interviews of rape victims conducted by Diana Russell, the majority of women expressed surprise that they were rape victims. They also had two widely held myths about rape: first, that it is very difficult, if even possible, for a woman to be raped; and second, that the rapist would be a stranger to them, not a friend. One woman stated that she did not refuse a date with a man, who eventually raped her, from her English class because she though it would have been rude. Another women did not report her rape because she believed that people would think that the rape could not of happened to a woman who did not want it or allow it to happen. All the women interviewed discussed common culturally held myths about rape: if they had been a ?good? girl it would not of happened, it was their fault because they should not of worn the outfit they were wearing, they should not of gone out with the guy, or that they did not fight back hard enough.
Hursch?s review of the results of the 1973 Denver study, discussing attitudes towards rape are not surprising. Some of the myths analyzed are: ?Most ?rapes? are false accusations filed by women who are trying to get even with some man.? ?Rape is a black man?s crime.? ?If women would stay home where they belong, they wouldn?t get raped.? ?The rapist is just a lonely guy who becomes infatuated with a particular woman to the point where he cannot resist his passionate urge to possess her.? ?Rape is impossible unless a woman wants it.?
Larsen and Long state that the perception of victim responsibility is a rape myth, which is may be linked to the toleration or acceptance of rape. In support of their claim, Larsen and Long quote Malamuth and Check?s study in which it was concluded that, ??general acceptance of rape myths may facilitate and perpetuate rape behavior.?
Lonsway and Fitzgerald, in a review of rape myths, focused on the specific beliefs and attitudes about rape that are prevalent in our culture. They define rape myths as, ??attitudes and beliefs that are generally false but are widely and persistently held, and that serve to deny and justify make sexual aggression against women.? Two examples of rape myths are discussed. First is the belief that women routinely lie about rape. In a comparison between 1971 and 1991 FBI figures, two percent of the 1971 rape charges were deemed false and eight percent of 1991 rape complaints were dismissed as false.
The second myth is that only ?certain women? are raped, primarily women with ?bad? reputations and those from socially marginal or minority groups. Quoting Gilmartin-Zena, and using Lerner?s ?just world? notion, (good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to only those who deserve them) Lonsway and Fitzgerald assert that ?Rape myths thus function to explain why rape victims deserved their fate (e.g. they ?asked for it? by their dress or behavior), and to reaffirm an individual?s false sense of security that they are somehow immune to rape.?
Lonsway and Fitzgerald cite studies conducted by Field, Giacopassi, and Dull, and Gilmarin-Zena that strongly, ??support the assumption that acceptance of rape myths characterize a significant proportion of the general population.?
There are many different myths about rapes, yet they all lead to the point where it is the woman?s own fault, for some reason or another. A woman under no circumstance should be held against her will and forced into an act in which she wished not to partake in. Rape is a serious crime that should not be taken lightly. Even though a woman is not killed during rape her life is still stripped from her, never to be the same again.
Hursch, C.J. The Trouble With Rape. Chicago: Nelson ? Hall, 1977.
Larsen, K.S. & Long, E. ?Attitudes Toward Rape.? The Journal of Sex Research. 1988: 299 ? 303.
Lonsway, K.A. & Fitzgerald, L.F. ?Rape Myths in Review.? Psychology of Women Quarterly. 1994: 133 ? 159.
Norris, J. & Cubbins, L.A. ?Dating, Drinking, and Rape: Effects of Victim?s and Assailant?s Alcohol Consumption on Judgments of Their Behavior and Traits.? Psychology of Women Quarterly. 1992: 179 ? 191.
U.S. Conference of Mayors. Rape. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974.
U.S. Department of Justice. Violence Against Women. A National Crime Victimization Survey Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993.