It seems to never fail that when the media gets a hold of a story of rape that facts and details are muddled. No, they aren’t outright lies but an image is painted in the viewer’s imagination to believe a picture very different from the facts. The picture that is painted is often one where the viewer feels a sense of security as long they don’t behave a certain way or are careful.
I’ll never forget reading an article in the paper one day about a rape that happened in the local community. The media made it sound like the victim was walking alone in the middle night in the alleys of the town. After a little digging I discovered that the truth was very different. Was the victim walking alone at night? Yes, but at 7pm in the summer when the sun is still out. Was the victim walking around by herself? Yes, but in the main streets of the town. It wasn’t till after the perpetrator came after did she ran off the main street. Hmmm…sounds very different then the first story. I believe that the purpose of twisting of the story is a kind of denial. People don’t want to believe that they can get raped and be doing “all the right things” (which are what by the way?). The truth is the most safety conscious person can become a victim of rape.
One of the main reasons for that is because the idea that most rapes are committed by strangers is a myth!!! Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows well and usually trusts. Think about it who is the easier victim; the one who is cautious and safety conscious, or a close friend where trust and a sense of security is already built. There are even many cases of perpetrators grooming a victim, because their ultimate goal is to gain trust and then assault. Another fact; it is more likely for a victim of stranger rape to report then compared to acquaintance rape. There are definitely barriers to reporting for both categories, but many victims of acquaintance rape don’t know what to think or feel about the situation. The shock of a violent act from a person of trust may delay reporting.
So what does this mean? Do we walk around terrified and grow inability to trust? No. Unfortunately any one of us can become a victim. If it happens to you KNOW it is not your fault and don’t rely on society to tell you if qualified as rape or not. Trust your instincts. If you know someone or hear of a rape; start by believing them. Don’t question the circumstances surrounding it; that isn’t your role. Victims often blame themselves for things that are completely out of their control. Our role is to support them and reaffirm that it is not their fault.