Growing up we’re always told to stay away from strangers. We’re told of what might happen to us and how dangerous strangers could be. We’re told to be on our guard and to never trust a person that we don’t know. But what happens when the people that we think we know become the people that we need to fear?
An awful lot of people still seem to believe that the majority of sexual assault and rapes are carried out by strangers, but that’s really not the case. Approximately 90% of people who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence. I completely agree that we still need to warn those around us, especially children, of the dangers surrounding strangers because there are still many dangers there. However I think it’s about time that we come to terms with the fact that those we know could be just as dangerous as those we don’t. More often than I can remember I’ve sat and wondered whether the outcome of my case would have been different had it have been a stranger who sexually assaulted me. Quite honestly, I do believe that it would have been.
From what I know now, it seems that an assault or rape carried out by a stranger is easier to prove by the police than one carried out by a person known to the victim. In these cases it becomes much more complex. As much as I understand why it becomes more complex, the law is in no way working in favour of the victim. And considering 90% of victims are in the same position that I was in with knowing the perpetrator, that’s an awful lot of people who aren’t likely to get justice for what they’ve gone through. I shared an article at the end of my last blog post talking about the “he said, she said” side to sexual assault and rape. It seems that this is something that’s seen all too often. I really do believe that people who assault those they know are extremely clever, and they know before the attack has even happened that making it a he said, she said scenario will be extremely difficult to prove for the police. The police have to be extremely careful not to wrongly convict someone, and unfortunately there have been cases in which someone has falsely accused another person of rape to “get back at them”. Of course I understand it, to wrongfully convict someone can have a devastating impact on their life. But the flip side to that is not convicting someone who has committed a crime and allowing that person to get away with it, essentially setting a precedent for that particular perpetrator and others. It honestly worries me how many people will get away with raping somebody, and go on to do it again because they know that there’s a slim chance of them being convicted if it’s reported to the police.
To break it down, around 20% of females (equivalent to 3.4 million) and 4% of men (equivalent to 631,000) aged 16 and above have experienced sexual assault or rape. And of all of those people, only 15% will report it to the police. And of the 15% that do report the offence to the police, only 5.7% of cases will end in a conviction. Surely it can’t only be me who sees these statistics and feels completely shocked. There’s a very big issue here, an issue that I really hope one day will change.
I remember watching a clip from an episode of This Morning where there was a discussion about sexual assault and rape. There was a woman on the show who was claiming that females bring on being assaulted and raped themselves by being on nights out, dressed provocatively and being too drunk. Anger soared through me watching the clip. How can some people be so naive? Should it matter what you’re wearing? Should it matter if you’ve had a drink? I went out that day dressed in jeans and an oversized jumper and was in no way ‘drunk’. Did I ‘ask for it’ too? The Fawcett Society Chief Executive once said “I can think of no other crime where we are so ready to blame the victim, but here women are being held responsible for the behaviour of their attacker. It is quite extraordinary and reveals just how deep-seated our readiness to blame women runs within our culture”. And I’ve never heard something so true.
I don’t think there’s anybody who brings on being sexually assaulted or raped themselves. NOBODY asks for it. Thinking that a person has brought on being raped themselves is essentially taking the onus from the perpetrator and putting it on to the victim. If you believe this, then in my opinion you’re essentially saying that a person who sexually assaults or rapes another person isn’t in the wrong and the actions of said person are justified. Looking at it from a different point of view, yes there are females who may go on a night out and dress a certain way because they want to attract some attention. But attracting attention and asking to be raped are two completely different things! Just because a female may wish to go out and get dressed up does NOT mean that she is going out with the intention of being sexually assaulted. Are we saying that people are no longer allowed to get dressed up just because some other person isn’t able to keep their hands to themselves? It makes for a very sad world if that’s the case.
After going through what I have, I find it extremely difficult to hear opinions such as that of the woman on This Morning. I understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion and there could very well be hundreds of people that disagree with mine, but my opinion is that of somebody who has actually been through it. Unfortunately, a lot of people who have never being sexually assaulted or raped are very quick to make assumptions, and I don’t think they realise the impact those assumptions have on victims. It’s because of people making assumptions like this that people like me find it incredibly difficult to admit what we’ve been through. The fear of being judged by people who don’t fully understand can be so overwhelming. Even though I’ve put my journey out there through my blog, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle at times. I shouldn’t feel as though I have to explain myself and the situation that I was in to people, but I do. People who have never been in that situation have at times been so quick to question my decisions. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last 10 months, it’s that some people will always prefer to live their life in a bubble of naivety, and no amount of truth will ever change that.
If you’d have asked me at any point before Christmas Day 2018 whether I ever imagined that I’d be sexually assaulted, the answer would have been no. I think any person asked that question would answer the same way. I’ve always been very careful, guarded and cautious, and I’ve always tried to ensure I never put myself in a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, no matter how guarded I’d been around people, I put some level of trust in a man that took advantage of me. Nothing about the situation that I was in prior to the assault should have been dangerous, there should have been no reason for me to question my safety, but I’d been wrong. That was the night that I realised, those we think we know can be just as dangerous as those we don’t.