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Rape

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"Before the rape I felt good. My life was in order. I was getting ready to get married. Afterward everything changed. I kind of lost who I was as a person...

I asked him 'Didn't you have a wife or a girlfriend you could do this with?' He said 'I like this better. I like it better this way.' "

-Victim Testimony, Trial Transcript, People V. Eric Barnes, Kew Garden, New York, July 6, 1984.

Rape is a physical attack, not sex. Rape crisis counselors and researchers define rape as an act of violence in which sex is used as a weapon (Benedict 2). A woman is raped in this country every two minutes. Between 1996 &1999 7,787,00 rapes were reported. The actual number is much, much higher because only 26% of rapes are reported. Husbands or boyfriends assaulted 28% of these women, 35% of these women were raped by people they knew; 1 in 4 of these rapes took place in a public place (Grady 4). Rape is a problem that infiltrates all countries and cultures; a Muslim woman who has been raped is disowned by her fiancй and her family for having brought them shame by becoming dirtied and thus not a candidate for marriage (Benedict 2).

Cross-cultural research has shown that rape is most common in cultures that are dominated by males and violence. This means cultures in which males dominate the political decisions and cultures adhering to the male ideology of toughness, interpersonal violence and war (Groth 7). In a culture of people with more traditional or sexist gender role, attitudes are more tolerant of rape than are people with more nontraditional attitudes. Traditional men are more likely to report that they would commit rape if they knew they would not be caught; some researchers have found that a traditional man is much more likely to commit a rape than a nontraditional man is. Many attitudes in our culture perpetuate rape, for example: A husband is entitled to have sex with his wife," "A 'real man' never passes up a chance to have sex," and, "A women who 'leads a man on' deserves what she gets (Growth 7). " Some media depictions may promote rape. Many movies make violence appear attractive and some movies convey myths about rape. Such as slasher films that make violence seem exciting, or movies suggesting that women like to be forced to have sex or that women's only value is to satisfy men. Most studies show that men who see these types of films, on average are more likely to commit rape. Interestingly, nonviolent movies that are sexually explicit do not have this effect on men. Sexually aggressive men are more likely than other men to have had early sexual experience, to hold attitudes justifying rape, to be hostile to woman, to use alcohol frequently, to be part of peer groups that discuss women in highly sexualized terms, and to become sexually aroused by depictions of rape (Groth 7).

There are two sides to a rape, the rapist and the victim. The victim is most of the time a woman but men are raped as well. It is a common myth that there is a type of woman that is more likely to be raped. This is indeed a myth, most of the time rape is a crime of opportunity, the victim is not chosen because of her looks or behavior, but because she is there (Benedict 2). The average rape victim is 18-39 years old and female, the average rapist is 25 years old and male. The effect of rape on a woman is an enormous one. The woman will come away from a rape with both physical and psychological damage. Eventually the physical wounds will heal, the psychological wounds will take quite some time before or if they ever heal (Grady 4). A sexual assault robs the woman of a sense of control; a feeling of loss of freedom is common among rape victims. To put her life in order she must regain this sense of control. Almost all rape victims suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (Benedict 2). The first symptom is the reliving or re-experiencing of the trauma. The victim is essentially unable to stop remembering the incident. This can also translate into dreams and nightmares that are not metaphorical but almost approximate to the rape itself; in addition the victim may also relive the assault in flashbacks. The victim will not talk about the event and will avoid any situation that might remind them of the rape (Figley 6). The second symptom is social withdrawal. It has been described as a psychic numbing, shame, and feeling emotionally dead. They do not care about living; this is not to say they are suicidal, just that they lose interest in everything. their kids, their husbands, they care about nothing. Victims of posttraumatic stress disorder may not feel joy, pain, or really much of anything. In addition to this the victim may suffer a kind of amnesia, they will forget the details of the attack (Figley 6). The third major symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder is the avoidance of behavior and actions. The victim may experience a tendency to avoid any thought, feelings, or cues, which could bring up the most horrifying elements of the rape. This may be characterized by the refusal to drive past the spot in which the rape occurred (Figley 6). The fourth set of symptoms is the exaggerated startle response -- hyper-alertness and hyper-vigilance -- that requires that the victim pay attention to every sound and sight in their environment. This may also cause a sleep disorder for chronic sufferers of posttraumatic stress disorder (Figley 6). Recent research has shown that certain psychological changes in the brain may be permanent. A possible side effect of this could be the inability to distinguish between a little crisis and a big crisis. Therefore, all events in their lives are viewed as crises. Victims may try to cope with the attack and the posttraumatic stress disorder with drugs and alcohol (Figley 6).

Rape can be preventable and here are a few steps and precautions that are taught to women. Carry your keys in your dominant hand, be able to use them as a weapon and be able to unlock your car door with either hand. Use deadbolts, window locks, and peep holes. When on the street, walk in a group and try to vary the way you walk to your car or house (Figley 6). In short, a woman needs to be aware and stay away from any situation that makes her uncomfortable.

In one study examining the incidence of the three patterns of rape, it was found that power rapes are the most common. Power rapes constituted for 55%, anger rapes accounted for 40%, and about 5% were sadistic rapes (Hazelwood 1).

Rapists who assault women lead double lives. On the outside they may appear no different from other men. They are members of every race, religion, profession, and socioeconomic group; they are of varying ages and are often members of churches. Many of them impress others

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