Imagine my surprise when I learned this weekend that all the training I have had regarding birth control and pregnancy was wrong. It appears that a politician who sits on of all things a science committee knows that a woman’s body has a natural defense against pregnancy IF she is LEGITIMATELY raped. I am not sure how the body knows the difference between legitimate and illegitimate rape (is there such a thing?) but somehow it just does, end of story. If she gets pregnant then it must not have been legitimate rape. I guess that would prove her a liar and the person arrested for the crime would be owed an apology, released from jail and given liberal visitation rights, that is IF the liar is even fit to have contact with the child at all; perhaps he would get full custody? It kind of reminds me of the old way of identifying witches, if she survived the drowning she was a witch and should be put to death, if she drowned, she was innocent but unfortunately dead.
In my career I have heard many things when it comes to the area of rape. Did you know that married people could not be raped? You see sexual relations are allowed by the marriage contract, it is a debt owed to the spouse. Don’t believe me? But yes, it must be true because that too came from a politician many years ago who said “If you cannot rape your wife, who can you rape?”
I once read of a jury who found a man innocent of rape based on at least one juror who said he did not believe the victim because “she said she was raped standing up and it is impossible to have sex standing up.” Here again, the fact that many an adventurous couple could make a valid argument against that stance, bore no weight in the eyes of the misinformed. Sometimes we just do not want to believe that bad things happen so we pretend that they don’t. It is so much easier to pretend that a victim of rape had “buyer’s remorse” than that she was raped (again, another term used by politicians instead of rape).
According to some, unconscious people cannot be raped because rape requires force. I am unsure if there is a spectrum that is used to determine what was rape and what was just adventurous buyer’s remorse; perhaps there is a bruise chart that it used? Perhaps it utilizes a color wheel much like painters use that you hold up to the victims wounds and compare. “I am sorry but according to the rape wheel, you were not raped; therefore you can be denied health care. So sorry, if only the rapist had hit you harder or you were a bleeder…”
As clinicians we know the difference between reality and faulty or total lack of logic. We know that pain and devastation that our rape survivor clients go through. We have looked into the eyes of toddlers who were fodder for the rapist, the innocent children, teens and adults who fought off and otherwise tried to prevent the attack but were unable to do so. We know that the vast majority of rape victims never report the crime to police for fear of retribution, fear of not being believed, fear of having to relive the crime on the stand and fear of being torn apart on cross examination (think the William Smith case where the victim’s choice of underwear was made part of the defense) or fear of stigmatization (among others). Comments like those above do perhaps as much damage as the crime itself (in terms of further victimizing the victims).
We look to cases involving males as the victims and see that it can get another level of dirty. Comments such as “if my teacher did that to me, I would have bragged” or “he was probably gay anyway, that is what they do” (a two for one show of ignorance and intolerance” do little to help the victim progress into the mindset of survivor. Instead they become fodder for jokes, ridicule and scorn.
This is all an example of what concrete, black or white and other types of extremist thinking brings forth. If we can only see things from our vantage point then we are doing a disservice not only to ourselves but to those who we have been entrusted to protect. Rigid thinking on the part of the client can and often is destructive to their relationships and general lives but think of the potential damage that is done when those who have the power to help or hurt decide to turn not only a blinds eye but a callously biased one towards fellow human beings.
As for me, well I looked at these comments for what they were something not worth listening to but if they could properly composted would greatly benefit my garden. Then again, we have enough BS for the farm, so I guess it is time to stand up and shout out for better basic human rights not only for all survivors of sexual abuse, men and women but for the right of women in general. While there is definitely a “U” in uterus, there should be no politics in personal matters and tragedies.
*As this is not a political blog I have omitted names and party affiliation from this discussion.
Warren Corson III (Doc Warren) is a counselor and the clinical & executive director of a community counseling agency in central CT (www.docwarren.org).