Saturday, 21 April 2007

Reporting rape

Thispost on Taking Steps about rape from a survivors view point entirely sums up why I didn't report, or indeed tell anyone for a long time, about being raped, or even identify it in my head as rape for a long time.

I was just 17, naive and felt completly responsible for putting myself in a situation where a guy could do that to me. I wasn't drunk or on drugs, I'd just gone to meet him in a quiet out of the way place for what I thought would be making out. Yet still, even though I was bruised and bloodied and beaten I thought no-one would believe me, that it was my fault for wanting to make out with a guy that I liked, for having desire. I had virtually no experience to measure this against. At the time I was at a fancy private school and I was terrified about the scandal bringing the school, which I loved, down, and of the shame of everyone talking about me.

6 months later a different girl was assualted by a different guy. The school blackmailed her into not pressing charges, the guy was not punished and eventually she quit. The rumor mill had a field day and was always on the guys side, who was pretty popular.

I was so glad I had said nothing. Now nearly 5 years later I don't know how I feel about it; as a feminist I feel like I should have reported, I feel guilt for letting my fear let a man get away with this, and I feel terrible for not being more supportive of that other girl, of not forcing this school, which was so proud of how progressive it was, to change its ways.

But as me, the woman who was the frightened teenage girl I can't fault my choice; I would not have been able to withstand the pressure of a trial or investigation or the public shame. Not on top of dealing with the rape.

It would have been easier to report if I hadn't known the guy, if I hadn't been brainwashed into thinking that rape was always the victims fault, or that rape was always perpatrated by strangers. It would also have been easier to report if I hadn't known that rape cases in the UK hardly ever went to trial and when they did were hardly ever successful.

If I was ever raped again would I report? I don't know. I like to hope that I would be brave enough, that I would have the courage of my convictions. But I really don't know.

I do know that this has to change. Attitudes towards rape have to change, thoughout society. Laws have to change, all over the world. And feminists are the only people who can make that change happen.

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