Rape is one of the most painful, disempowering experiences that a person can live through. Unfortunately, we live in a world where rape is underreported. Additionally, there is a great degree of silence and misinformation about the issue. Because of these factors, many people lack the knowledge and understanding necessary to prevent sexual assault or assist survivors.
Read this article to get informed and take positive actions that make our world a safer, brighter place. Here are 10 facts about rape that many people are unaware of:
1. Many Popular Songs Promote Rape Culture.
Rape culture is a concept that refers to communities where sexual violence is encouraged and accepted because of the society’s views about women, men, and sex. (Learn more about rape culture here.) Rape culture promotes the notion that violence, force, and/or coercion is an integral aspect of sexual encounters.
There are several popular songs which promote rape culture by feeding into the “No means yes” ideology. An example would be “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” In this song, a man attempts to convince his female partner to stay at his place (presumably so he can have sex with her) because it is too cold for her to travel home. Despite the fact that the woman continually says no and offers reasons why, the man keeps insisting that she stay. This dialogue upholds the rape culture norm that when women resist a man’s sexual advances, they really don’t mean “no” and the man can continue pressuring her until “consent” is finally granted.
2. Many Victims Do Not Define The Sexual Assault As “Rape.”
As noted by NCBI, many sexual violence survivors do not use the term “rape” to describe what happened. Instead, they use more benign wording such as “miscommunication” or “bad sex.” One study found that more than half of female rape survivors do not acknowledge the fact that they have been raped.
3. We Tend To Blame The Victim, Not The Rapist.
Research studies indicate that when an individual is raped, society tends to blame the victim rather than the rapist. For example, The Guardian cites a study in which more than half of female respondents thought that there were situations in which the rape victim was to blame. For example, if the woman had performed a sex act on the rapist, over 40% believed she should take some responsibility for the rape. Also, 20% of respondents believe that the victim was to blame if she went to the home of the attacker.
4. Most Victims Know The Rapist.
Oftentimes, rape is discussed as a form of unwanted sexual violence that takes place when a stranger attacks a woman in a dark alley. While this can happen, studies indicate that this is not the way that rape generally unfolds. As noted by RAINN, 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone who knows the victim.
5. Pornography Promotes Rape Culture.
In a research article entitled “The harms of pornography exposure among children and young people,” Michael Flood explores the impact that pornography consumption can have on viewers. Flood notes that young men and boys who frequently consume pornography were more likely to condone acts of sexual coercion. Additionally, these viewers were more likely to sexually assault another person. This was especially the case for those who viewed pornography involving a lot of violence.
6. Rape Is Still Legal in Some Countries.
India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China are just a few countries where marital rape is still common, according to “Marital Rape Is Still Legal in Some Countries and Still Happens in the U.S.,”. And though America’s legislators have made marital rape illegal in every state, examining the issue more closely reveals that there are flaws in the U.S. system of prosecuting sexual assault within marriage. As indicated by Hayley Fox, marital rape is frequently handled differently than other types of rape. Specifically, there are states where victims have a shorter window of time in which they can report spousal rape. In many cases, the sentencing is decreased when a conviction for marital rape is granted. “Marital Rape Is Still Legal in Some Countries and Still Happens in the U.S.,”. And though America’s legislators have made marital rape illegal in every state, examining the issue more closely reveals that there are flaws in the U.S. system of prosecuting sexual assault within marriage. As indicated by Hayley Fox, marital rape is frequently handled differently than other types of rape. Specifically, there are states where victims have a shorter window of time in which they can report spousal rape. In many cases, the sentencing is decreased when a conviction for marital rape is granted.
7. American Indians Are At The Greatest Risk Of Victimization.
As noted in RAINN, American Indians are twice as likely to be victimized by rape or sexual assault than members of other races. RAINN also reports that 41% of sexual assaults against American Indians are committed by strangers, 34% by an acquaintance, and 25% by family members or intimate partners.
8. Most Sexual Assaults Occur In Or Near The Victim’s Home.
RAINN reports that most rapes (55%) are completed at or near the victim’s home.
9. Men Can Be Victimized By Sexual Assault.
As noted in RAINN, sexual assault can happen to anyone. This includes men and boys. Thus while rates of sexual assault are highest amongst women and girls, it’s important to be aware that males can be victimized as well.
10. Many Celebrities Are Advocates For Rape Victims.
While rape is a deeply troubling social issue, it’s important to know that many people are doing something about it. This includes celebrities. For example, David Schwimmer became a board director for the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica in 2001. Lady Gaga has also supported sexual abuse survivors through her song “Til It Happens to You” and performed the song at the Academy Awards with dozens of survivors standing beside her on the stage. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” actress Mariska Hargitay has also advocated for victims by starting an organization designed to offer healing and support for survivors. Her organization is called the Joyful Heart Foundation.
End Violence Against Women
Now that you know what a big social problem rape is, you may be ready to become a part of the solution. If so, you can get started now by working with LiveYourDream.org. Explore the website now to learn about volunteer opportunities you can take to raise awareness about violence against women.
By becoming actively involved with LiveYourDream.org, you’ll help us all live in a more equitable world where everyone has the ability to live safely and realize their dreams!
Jocelyn Crawley is a 32-year-old freelance writer who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Feminism is her deepest passion and she is excited about partnering with other women’s rights advocates in the years to come. When she is not reading and writing on feminist topics, Jocelyn enjoys sipping coffee and improving her yoga practice.