Category Archives: Sexual Assault

Should Rapists Qualify for the Death Penalty?

Centuries ago justice systems considered rape as brutal of a crime as murder. In ancient Greece, Rome, and Colonial Times, rape was categorized as a a capital offense right alongside it. In the 12th century rape victims’ families were granted the right to carry out the rapists’ punishment which was brutal and often fatal. In 14th century England, the rape victim was expected to gouge out their rapist’s eyes or castrate him.

Today, rapists typically receive a slap on the wrist. In the United States, current death penalty standards exist mainly for convicted murderers, but shouldn’t rapists be faced with the same penalty? Victims of rape can experience PTSD and emotional consequences that stunt their livelihoods for years and sometimes destroy their entire lives.

Take for example Amanda Berry of Cleveland. Amanda and two other young females disappeared ten years ago when they were aged 14 years old. For the ten years these girls were held captive by their kid-napper. The man not only kidnapped, held captive and raped these girls, but collectively robbed them of thirty years of life. Thirty years they could’ve spent with friends. Thirty years they could’ve spent with family. Thirty years they could’ve spent going to school. Thirty years they will never get back. This is an extreme case of how a rapist can destroy and rob a victim of years of “living.”

In a more typical rape-crime, where it may only takes minutes for a rape to occur, the after effects from the humiliation and violence is difficult for a victim to bear. Issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often rob rape victims of a normal life. Typically the term “PTSD” connotes images of war veterans suffering through an existence tormented with nightmares and flashbacks from their days of combat. Contrary to that imagery, PTSD is not unique to this group of individuals. Rape victims are common sufferers of PTSD.

Perpetrators of a rape usually get very lenient sentencing, but more often than not they are never caught while rape victims will suffer for years after a rape has occurred. Rape is not an experience that is easily forgotten and the after effects on a victim result in issues such as PTSD, depression, addiction and even suicide. Sometimes the issues the victim experiences last the rest of their lives so why shouldn’t the rapist lose their lives (or years of their lives through longer prison sentences) as well? Harsher punishments for rape-crimes would at the very least be a deterrent.

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Filed under Sexual Assault, Women

Is the GOP Trying to “Censor” American Women?

Mixed reactions are pouring in with regards to HYURO, a Spanish artist’s, recent public mural in Atlanta, Georgia. Frame-by-frame, the mural depicts a nude woman dressing, then disrobing. Certain frames of the painting portray the woman as completely nude and a lot of the Atlanta citizens are outraged. Some called it “pornographic” and inappropriate, especially because of the mural’s logistics: it is located near a day care center and a church. The church itself has not complained about the artwork.

This is a common reaction to not only artwork, but to nudity in this country. Whether it’s in the media or on a beach, this country just doesn’t seem ready for au naturel.

I too have been forced to “censor” my work from the public eye. One summer, I was invited to display my artwork at a local street fair. After my space was set up, I was immediately informed that I would need to cover all the nude paintings. Since I was working on a nude series at the time, few paintings would be exposed once I had covered up the offensive ones.

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The War on Women Rages On (HuffPost)

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The War on Women Rages On

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Hayley

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Quit Your Rape Baiting, OK? Thanks

Recently Representative Todd Akin made some outstanding remarks. When asked if abortion should be permitted in cases of pregnancies resulting from rape, Akin replied,”From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

It is people like Akin who make my job easy. It’s like what Cousin Eddie says to Clark Griswald in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation regarding the Jelly of the Month Club. It’s these soundbites of truth, glimmers of how these mostly male conservative representatives truly feel about women that is the “Gift that keeps on giving the whole year. ” And I don’t even know where to begin with this one…

I am losing track of when the War on Women officially began. It feels like so long ago, though I consider Chris Smith’s infamous “Chris Smith Bill” to be the first metaphorical shot. The bill had a clause that called for the redefinition of the word “rape.” By redefining rape, Smith thought he could save the government some money. To achieve this budget cut, he intended to limit abortion coverage for Medicaid recipients by only allowing those who were “forcibly raped” to obtain the procedure.

Who exactly would be given the role of rape-victim interrogator is beyond me. In fact, where would they even draw that line? If the victim didn’t fight back, does that mean the rape wasn’t forcible? And if the rape is deemed “not forcible,” must she suffer an unwanted pregnancy as a result? And what about victims of incest? People who have been exposed to long term sexual abuse?

Technically that may not be considered “forcible” because victims in those situations are often helpless, young and lack support from their other family members, therefore, they might concede to their predator because it is ongoing. Well it really doesn’t matter, do you not see my point?

Men like Akin and Smith are micromanaging our vaginas. They are also micromanaging and trivializing our dignity — the dignity of women everywhere and the dignity of countless unheard victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Shame on them.

And what about this part of his quote, “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

Does this man even know what he’s talking about? Has he reviewed the statistics? That 90% of rapes never get reported to the proper authorities. That on average, a rapist perpetrates ten sexual assaults before ever getting caught. That only 3% of rapists go to jail and of that 3% many have short and/or reduced sentences?

Akin has also been quoted speaking out about the morning-after pill citing that it should be illegal because it is a “form of abortion.” There is actually no proof that the morning after pill is indeed what Akin says it is: an abortifacient.

A recent New York Times article reports that the federally approved labels on the morning-after pill do not support the research presented by today’s leading scientists. “Studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Rather, the pills delay ovulation, the release of eggs from ovaries that occurs before eggs are fertilized, and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.

I would say that certainly does not constitute as an abortion but more so some type of vaginal flushing. So to answer my original question, “Does this man know what he’s talking about?” I would have to say no. Akin has no idea what he’s talking about. And he proves the point that I am trying to make: that the men who started the War on Women are completely out of touch with women, their target du jour, and the distraction that is the War on Women allows them to take the heat off the real problem: jobs or lack thereof.

Have you ever heard of a family having to go on government assistance because they cannot afford to pay their rent or feed their children due to an abortion? No. But have you heard of a family needing government assistance to pay their rent and buy their food because they have too many children and not enough work? Yes.

Abortions do not cause financial hardships. However, when the amount of children you have exceeds (or greatly exceeds) the amount of children you can afford, financial hardship ensues. Add to that an economy with limited work opportunities and you got yourself a pickle.

Most people forget to mention that sometimes people choose to get an abortion for financial reasons, i.e., because they cannot afford to support a child or children. This sounds like a very responsible choice: to utilize all available options while taking into consideration one’s means before deciding to start a family (which may very well be the concept which spun the idea Planned Parenthood).

Some people consider this to be responsible; the choice to terminate an accidental pregnancy for financial reasons as opposed to sharing the financial burden of an unexpected child with family members and tax payers. Other people, like Akin, find this idea to be heinous and morally wrong. People like Akin put unborn fetuses first before any other considerations, even considerations such as income and jobs. And as long as people like Akin, Smith and their constituents continue “rape baiting” nothing will be done about the job situation or the economy.

Rather than do good or enact positive change in this country, Akin and his constituents have used an ideological War on Women to take the heat off the actual issues by using women as scapegoats. And an excellent scape goat they are! Through the tactic of divide and conquer, they have created a huge division with the idea that those who do not use birth control or have abortions are morally superior to those who do. Rather than bringing people together in support of one another; rather than teaching Americans to empathize with those who were put in the position to make the difficult choice that abortion is, they have taught them to hate. They have taught them to judge. They have taught Americans that those who have abortions are murderers and those who use birth control are sluts. And through all this propaganda and rape baiting they have forgotten one universal thing about themselves: that they too are human and not some omnipresent moral force put on Earth to subject the rest of us to religious beliefs that tout male superiority and dominance over women, their bodies and their decisions.

Though I have presented scientific fact and statistical knowledge, it makes no difference to those waging the War on Women. They do not go by facts or statistics. They use their religion as a shield to dismiss scientific facts as heresy, and favor the perpetuation of carefully selected myths convenient to their purportedly pious lifestyle.

Well Representative Akin, maybe you’re right, but before we get rid of abortion let’s address some bigger issues. First, you should concentrate on job creation and bringing back the living wage so families in dire straits don’t have to turn to abortion when an unexpected pregnancy occurs. I anticipate your response to that would be something along the lines of “there should be no excuse for unplanned pregnancies. If you are abiding by the laws of The Bible they simply should not occur.”

Well, that brings me to my second point: why is there a demand for abortions? What exactly is keeping these clinics in business? Could it be that very type of thinking? Some states have put so much stock into the idea that sex without marriage is morally wrong that many schools now lack of sex education. Could these new abstinence only “sex” education programs be responsible for leading today’s ignorant youngsters into the scary world of teen and unwanted pregnancies? Maybe.

What about adults and mature women who are seeking abortions too? Could their need for the procedure have to do with the lack of access to affordable contraception and health care? Could this have to do with the fact that for an uninsured woman, birth control costs $40 – $120 per month and that in 2011, around 46 million Americans were uninsured? And that brings us back to the jobs issue, again.

Perhaps Representative Akin and his constituents aren’t really trying to avoid real issues like I’ve suggested: that for Americans, health insurance is a luxury and that the living wage is a privilege. Perhaps Representative Akin truly has a dream; a vision of a world in which fetuses are able to roam free from the threat of abortion. “As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country,” he said in an Aug.8 interview with KCMO radio (HuffPost).

With all this talk of outlawing morning after pills, abortion and now with all these new “Personhood” initiatives everyone is at risk. Just because it started as a War on Women no longer guarantees that men are safe. With the ridiculous Personhood rulings taking off across the country, men won’t be able to enjoy pornography the way they used to. Forget about worrying about mom catching you. If the lawmakers behind Personhood get wind of what you’ve been doing you might be arrested for child abuse or even worse (GASP!): murder.

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Is This Legalized Rape?

As the War on Women rages on, the idiocy of it continues to expand exponentially, take for example last month when two congresswomen were banned from saying the word “vagina.” Add that to the fact that more states continue to ban or attempt to ban abortion and contraception, too.

It’s kind of ironic, the fact that so many of these lawmakers are trying to force themselves into the vaginas of American women everywhere, because in this country, women get to choose who they do and do not let into their vaginas. Even women who might be considered promiscuous by society’s standards, women who let lots of people into their vaginas, still made the choice to do so. There is a word for when someone forces themselves into a woman’s vagina without her permission and that word is rape.

If you read my blog you know a little about my background. I am a survivor of sexual assault. In fact, one in six women in the US are part of this demographic. For these women, who were at one time victims of rape, there was obviously at least one event in their lives in which they did not have that choice; the choice to say “yes” or “no.”

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Won’t you love my crazy?

I think it’s pretty indisputable that Britney Spears has a few mental issues. It doesn’t get in the way of relationships as the star is almost on her third marriage. Well… maybe it does get in the way of relationships, but it doesn’t keep men from pursuing her. Do not attribute it to her being rich or pretty. When I worked in the school system, one of the other teachers told me about a woman she tutored at a local community college. The woman has multiple personalities, and she put stress on the world multiple. As I listened to the story, I couldn’t help but wonder how, with my one personality, I was still single, while the woman with multiple ones was happily married. Not trying to sound judgmental, I seriously began to wonder what exactly was wrong with me… She went on to describe the gamut of emotional issues this woman had and all the things her husband dealt with. He was very patient, she said.

After breaking up with my last boyfriend and a year of online dating on and off I put up one last profile in which I declared  that I was “Looking for a miracle.” I certainly got some interesting responses. One guy sent me a message that read, “Miracle huh? Are you really that bad?” This made me laugh but at the same time made me wonder… Was I?

It’s safe to say everybody has issues and there I was back on the couch with a new domestic violence counselor. It was extremely humbling this time around, because when I surveyed her bookshelf,  I recognized the names of many acquaintances from the writing world… But there I was, again. And why?

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Filed under Dating, Friendship, Growth, Heart, Life Lessons, Love, relationships, Sexual Assault

Relationships After Sexual Assault

Or should I say the “lack of relationships” after sexual assault. Trust is a difficult thing, especially when you’ve fallen victim to a rape. After becoming a victim myself and eventually seeking therapy, I couldn’t trust anyone, not even myself. Can you imagine the feeling of not being able to trust yourself? I am still very mistrustful and fearful. To understand why, I would have to revert back to the crime itself along with some common misconceptions.

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Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away

“Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away.” I saw it written on a poster at the store this morning. I probably should’ve been working, but instead I went shopping for vintage jewelry.

“Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away.” I just Googled it- apparently it is also the title of a Reba McEntire song.

Last night I was reading various blogs and I came across a post by Phyllis Bright Eyes. The title of the post was “Will I Recognize Love When I Find It?” Wow, good question. Most of us have grown so used to negativity and rejection that “Will I recognize love when I find it?” seems like a more than valid question. Most of us have settled for something or another, something close to love someone that our parents or friends warn us that we should not pass up. But what makes it a good thing if we have to look outside ourselves, to the voices and opinions of others, to see that it is? This is all a grand delusion, a self-deception that will fall apart in time.

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Filed under Dating, Domestic Violence, Love, relationships, Sexual Assault

My Rapist Doesn’t Know He’s a Rapist

I found this through a Facebook “share” this morning and thought you might appreciate it. I do not know the origins of this photograph. All I know is that is was taken at a DC Slutwalk.

Slutwalks are a recent slew of protests by women who are sick of being victim blamed for their rapes by their rapists and the culture at large.

 

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Filed under Domestic Violence, Growth, Healing, Inspirational, Life Lessons, News, Sexual Assault

Residual Pain

Last night, I volunteered at the animal shelter. I always loved animals but started volunteering around the time I began attending rape counseling. Those memories had long been suppressed and by the time I finally got around to speaking to someone about them, I was in bad shape. I was definitely suffering from some sort of PTSD and was terrified of people as well as the most benign circumstances. In counseling, I talked about being date raped. I felt better after talking to someone and being validated. You see, I blamed myself for being raped, because I willingly entered the situation: I went over my “friends” house to watch the Superbowl and have a few beers. That was twelve Superbowls ago. A night that started off fun ended with a lot of memory loss, inability to determine sequence of events, physical pain, and then a loss of said friends -but not before an inquisition from said friends in which they slyly tried to determine what I remembered of the night, if anything at all.

For the next decade I did what I wanted to do fearlessly. I did not worry about consequences. I did not care. It wasn’t until after rape counseling that I developed a new and unsightly complex. Though I expected the counseling to make things better it did and it didn’t. Though I now felt validated, receiving formal counseling and talking about what happened opened up a can of worms. After going on a date or hanging out with a man alone, I would go home and scrutinize the night’s events, piecing them together again and again worrying to myself about whether or not something happened. The basis for this fear was a fear that during the date, I had some sort of memory loss, though I was fully conscious and sober the entire time. I would agree with most people, that this is pretty nutty, however, the fear was very real and debilitating. Once the anxiety began it took off like a speeding train. It could go on and on for hours and sometimes days. God bless the people around me who patiently listened to me and reassured me that it was unlikely that anything happened, and reassured me that I would remember it.

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Filed under Animal Rights, Domestic Violence, Healing, Sexual Assault