Rape: The unspeakable crime

Last night I watched a documentary on BBC iPlayer called The Unspeakable Crime: Rape. I highly recommend you watch it, as I found it quite challenging and it changed my perspective. To open in a new tab click here.

The film mainly focuses on one woman in particular. It was certain elements of her story which challenged me and I wanted to share that.

Be warned, the following contains adult content which some may find disturbing

 

It’s New Year’s Day, and Juliet is sent by police to St Mary’s, a sexual assault referral centre. She is asked to tell her story to camera; the footage may later be used in court.

The story starts with her at home. She’s getting ready to go out for the night and to get in the mood for a night of partying, has a glass of wine. One becomes two and so on until the bottle is dry. Juliet heads out to the pub to meet a friend, but she’s not there. She sits down at the bar and orders a bottle to share and waits for her to arrive. She never shows up.

Juliet finishes her second bottle and decides to go home. At this point her memory starts to fail. She remembers being led by the hand, but then another blank spot.

Juliet’s next memory starts with a man’s penis in her mouth. She doesn’t know who the guy is and she wants him to stop, but he’s got a hand on her head and isn’t done yet. She thinks about biting down, but he warns her that she’d regret it. Once done, he leaves her in the alleyway and she goes to tell the police, who refer her here.

The program then moves on to show the hunt for the assailant, and we see CCTV footage of Juliet that night. They find good shots of her going into the pub alone and sitting there by herself. Once her wine is finished, the barman refuses to serve her anymore and she’s escorted out. She’s so drunk at this point she collapses at several points and can barely walk.

It’s at this point that I started to lose sympathy. When she told her story I had felt really sorry for her, as what happened was horrific and traumatic (not an overstatement!). When I saw her inebriated, I thought to myself, well she’s clearly not being careful and my compassion lessened.

The film later interviews some of the lawyers handling her case. They say that it’s sad that because a girl likes to drink, wears short skirts and high heels that they are less likely to see a conviction. The fact of the matter is that the violation was still that: rape.

This hit me hard, as I had been thinking along those lines. The victim’s state had made me reassess the perpetrator and go someway to justifying the crime. I felt sick; what had I just done?

The fact of the matter is that rapists will target the vulnerable. That making yourself exposed, whether it is sensible to do so or not, is legitimately a risky thing to do is thinking from the Pit. The victim is never responsible for the actions of their attacker and to ever think like that is evil.

That moment changed me, and I’m so grateful for that. Why I did it is not clear; did I want to find fault in poor Juliet or was I trying to make sense of a world where people chose to be a rapist?

Being a virgin, I really do not understand the appeal sex has. Of course I have some sexual desire, but the choice to not have sex is relatively easy one when the experience is unknown. So I really struggle to understand why there are so many who do this.

And it is many, not just a few. In Britain, it is estimated that someone is raped once every six minutes. That is not a situation which affects a minority, but a major issue.

The more I saw the aftercare that’s necessary for victims, the more I wanted to stop it ever happening. The question is how? The problem is widespread, spreading across generations and throughout the country.

I have one thought looping on repeat; why was this not talked about in school? We were told to avoid unsafe sex and drug use (though to what effect is debatable) but never was rape mentioned. The only reason I can guess is that it may be a sensitive area for someone in that class, but I think it still needed to be said, at least to the guys.

I’m starting to get angry at the lack of teaching on it. Why weren’t we told that sex is a precious thing and should never be forced? Why didn’t the teachers tell us that the media’s treatment of women was unjust and out of order?

And what can/should I do about all this?

———————————————————

If you’ve reacted in a similar way, I strongly suggest you watch this documentary. This only touches the surface of the issues covered in the program and if you want to be a part of the change, being informed about the extent and nature of the problem is a good place to start.

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5 thoughts on “Rape: The unspeakable crime

  1. I’m so glad you changed your way of thinking. When I started reading this, I thought it was turning into a victim blaming piece, but I was happy to see you realized what you were doing. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Sure, people shouldn’t be walking around drunk, but that’s a completely different issue. I’ve had to have this conversation many times with people. It’s really hard to get them to shift their attention away from the bad behavior of the woman to the criminal and unbelievably immoral behavior of the rapist. I agree that this should be taught more…both in school and in the home. My son’s going off to college in the fall and you better believe we are having this conversation (again!) before he leaves. Thanks for the link to the documentary. I’m interested to see it.

    • chrysalisloall says:

      That was the main reason for writing this piece; I was so shocked how easy it was to go down that way. I’m glad you kept reading πŸ™‚
      Let me know if you can see the documentary. It was broadcast in the UK only, so you may not be able to, but I hope you can.

  2. Adam n says:

    That documentary was very challenging. The fact that behaving in a certain way can increase you chances of bad things happening is a separate issue to who did the bad things, and doesn’t excuse them! A couple of bits in the documentary struck me- ‘alcohol didn’t rape me’ and also the analogy of leaving your house unlocked and being robbed. Sure you increased your chances of being robbed, but that doesn’t make you responsible and the thief shouldn’t be acquitted of theft because of that!

    Some of the stats really struck me also- the amount of underage rapes, the low number of false allegations (thought to be less than 3%),and the fact that victims know the assailant in 90% of cases. Mental.

    • chrysalisloall says:

      It was an excellent documentary that was clearly well researched. I forgot that burglary example, that was really simple and clear.

      I knew that the assailant is predominantly someone you know. The majority of cases I’ve read about in the news have been that way. I can also see how it is easier to justify that a girl is asking for it if you have a relationship with them rather than a total stranger. I did find the comment about stranger danger hard to take though. Should we really be teaching girls to not trust men and fear all older guys? The ideal is to hold them accountable for their actions, but is that asking too much for some? A difficult problem with no simple answer.

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