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Rape: A complex crime

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Mark Easton | 12:05 UK time, Wednesday, 9 July 2008

What does the word "rape" mean to you? For many reading this post, I suspect, it is a trigger to appalling events in their own lives. Because rape is an everyday crime. By my calculations, roughly 230 people are raped each day in England and Wales.

John YatesPolice, this morning, called for specialist units to investigate rape allegations - senior officers are ashamed of a conviction rate they calculate at 6%. "Not good enough" says the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police John Yates.

But analysis of the Home Office data on what they call "intimate violence" suggests the conviction rate is much lower. And the scale of the problem far greater. My source is the Home Office supplement to the British Crime Survey - Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07 (pdf link). This is a remarkable piece of research in which 13,000 people were asked to fill out an anonymous questionnaire on their experiences of domestic violence, sexual assault and rape.

It is an exercise that has been conducted three times now and is backed up by other academic studies. The results are consistent. One in 20 women said they had been raped since they were 16. One in 200 said they had been raped in the previous 12 months. In terms of the population of England and Wales, that suggests 85,000 women are raped each year - 230 a day. And yet the number of men convicted of rape is fewer than 800 a year. So the chance of a victim seeing her attacker jailed is less than one in 100.

Rape victimBut rape is a complex crime. Only 17% of rapists are strangers to their victim. Just 4% are cases of date rape. Half (54%) are committed by a husband, partner or ex-partner. What's more, even though their experience is technically rape in law, 57% of rape victims don't necessarily think of themselves that way.

To be clear what the figures categorise as rape, the definition is this: "the penetration of the vagina or anus without consent and penetration of the mouth by a penis without consent."

Since the 39,000 people who have taken part in the studies benefited nothing from alleging rape, and the results appear consistent, it seems probable that the research gives a realistic sense of the scale.

If one looks at the data on rape at any point during adult life, it suggests 700,000 women have suffered in that way - equivalent to the entire population of Leeds.

Figures for male rape are too small to measure on an annual basis, but the survey suggest there are approximately 80,000 men in England and Wales who have been raped in adulthood.

The data suggests, if anything, incidents of rape are going down slightly. But, to my mind, the numbers still paint a deeply troubling picture of sexual violence in the 21st century.

How should we respond? The police have made great strides in recent years to deal more effectively with allegations of rape. The idea of specialist units may help. But such is the scale of unwanted sexual advance, assault and rape revealed by the research, the answer surely cannot lie with policing alone.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:24pm on 09 Jul 2008, The Fickle Finger wrote:

    I have asked myself in the past whether, if, Godforbid, this should ever happen to my daughter, I would encourage her to report it to the police. I come up with the answer - I just don't know.
    And that from a feminist-lite, who has always advocated that the victims of rape should never be ashamed of the status, should never allow themselves to be defined by it and should put the shame where it belongs - on the perpetrator.
    The court system simply is not geared to dealing with rape - maybe it really is one of the few crimes that should be dealt with by judges, perhaps less swayed by the wiles of smart barristers, rather than a jury of peers.

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  • 2. At 1:27pm on 09 Jul 2008, Ikarus wrote:

    Actually, you may be understating the scale of the problem in this, which is even more scary.

    In similar surveys in America, another category was included in the list: Attempted rape. Numbers for that category were many times the number of actual rapes. If I remember correctly, one study found that up to 40% of women in the US were the victims of either rape or attempted rape during their lifetime. (That particular study was not just about adult life though).

    I have tried to find comparable data in the UK, and failed...

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  • 3. At 1:43pm on 09 Jul 2008, Soreshins wrote:

    I don't see how setting up specialist units is going to help all that much in terms of the conviction rates. You can collect all the evidence you need that sex took place, but unless there are independant witnesses how will a specialist unit be any more successful at proving that it was rape and not consensual. That's where the problem lies after all, the fact that the jury has to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, and when it's the word of one person against another then the chances of that are very low.

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  • 4. At 1:47pm on 09 Jul 2008, 2ndRowGriff wrote:

    There are a number of complex issues which face all parties in the criminal justice system. The Police have lead on makes huge changes over the past 20 years. Now, victims are ALL regarded as genuine cases. Examinations are conducted by highly skilled doctors who have been additionally trained to deal with these cases. There is a lack nationwide of specialist centres to which rape and other serious sexual assault victims are taken to - this requires National funding and support rather than local Police and NHS funding. The CPS are the decision makers on whether to prosecute or not and they have their guidelines to follow. Then HM Court service has its' rules and guidelines to follow which allow for cross examination etc of witnesses and ultimately it is down to a jury of men and women to decide whether or not someone is guilty is rape.

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  • 5. At 1:55pm on 09 Jul 2008, Simon2224 wrote:

    I can only make my view on reported cases but it would appear that no matter how good the investigation team are it often comes down to the word of both parties as to whether sex was consensual or not.

    In a judicial system that requires proof beyond reasonable doubt how can a jury be expected to convict in such cases? It is not, as I have heard some women support groups suggest, a case of taking the man's evidence over the woman rather that if both statements are taken equally then the case certainly hasn't been proved to the required standard.

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  • 6. At 2:10pm on 09 Jul 2008, Mr T wrote:

    I'm not sure that more laws or special task forces are going to make much difference to be honest. It seems that many cases seem to boil down to one person's word against another. In such cases it will always be virtually impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that any perpetrator is guilty.

    What may be required is education about and stigmatisation of sexual aggression. Men need to know that such behaviour renders them scum in the eyes of others. However, in an increasingly sexualised society I see no appetite for this. The sad fact of the matter appears to be that if women don't want to be raped they'd better be extraordinarily careful about which men they associate with.

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  • 7. At 2:38pm on 09 Jul 2008, biron21 wrote:

    Several years ago I took part in a TV documentary “The Law on Trail”, the subject matter was Rape. All facets around this issues was investigated and the outcome surprisingly was that the Law and procedures in place was adequate and work well.

    It is just as difficult for an innocent accused as for a victim and the law do need to consider the longevity of the perception on those accused and named who have being found not guilty.

    The real issue which may need to be separted is rape within marriage, as this skews the overall picture.

    This is indeed a very sensitive discussion item and it always get everyone’s blood boiling, but when the intricacies are given clear transparent overview many change their immediate viewpoint.

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  • 8. At 3:08pm on 09 Jul 2008, poppykln wrote:

    Thanks for this insight into a the current state of play on this difficult subject.

    To clarify the point you made about the exact legal definition of rape: as you point out, rape can occur by the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth. What I don't think you made 100% clear is that the penetration must always be by a penis. (This can include an artificially constructed penis if the alleged rapist is a transexual and "vagina" can include an artificially constructed vagina if the alleged victim is transexual.) If the penetration is by another part of the body or any other object, the crime is not rape. It's a slightly different offence called "sexual assault by penetration". That offence only covers the vagina or anus - not the mouth.

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  • 9. At 3:15pm on 09 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    To talk of a "low conviction rate" seems to assume that in all accusations, the defendant is guilty. Add to this an earlier comment by a poster on here that "the sad fact of the matter appears to be that if women don't want to be rapedthey'd better be extraordinarily careful about which men they associate this".

    I find this astonishing. The idea that anything other than a tiny minority of men have the capacity to rape a woman is truly awful. I know I never would or could and nor can I imagine any male friend I know doing the same thing.

    If every woman was accused of being "a potential baby murderer" on the basis of the actions of a minority of women, there would be an outcry and yet a similarly outlandish accusation against men just seems to be accepted.

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  • 10. At 3:16pm on 09 Jul 2008, B_Cooke wrote:

    Why anyone would go through the process of falsely reporting a rape is beyond me.

    Yet, there's still the supposition that it's the accused's word against that of the victim and only evidence can tip the scales.

    Some men rape. It's happened throughout history. It's even acknowledged as a tool of war today.

    Would the UN ever need to declare women lying about rape a warcrime? Of course not, because it happens so very rarely.

    Not like rape. That happens every minute.

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  • 11. At 3:16pm on 09 Jul 2008, Peter Bolt wrote:

    What does Mr Yates actually mean ?
    What ever happened to the Rape Crisis Suites ?
    Does he consider the Juries to be niave, or the victim not convincing enough, or the accused to be a good liar, or the evidence bar to be too high ?
    As a former Det Sgt who actually dealt with rape cases(themselves quite rare) it was often impossible to find out the real truth as opposed to versions of that truth.
    The more so when for various personal reasons both parties have hidden agendas.
    One word of warning about the suggestion of settlement being other than by a Court verdict (a la the England Rugby team in NZ) Beware the Laws of Libel.

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  • 12. At 3:29pm on 09 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    So in the survey you quote, 1 in 200 women say that they have been raped in the last year which (based on the number of convictions) "proves" that the chances of a conviction are less than one in a 100.

    Or...at any one time, 1 in 200 woman are P***ed off with men in general or angry at one man in particular or just a bit crazy (and I'd volunteer that there's a good chance that 1 in 200 men are a bit crazy at any one time) and so make an accusation in an anonomous survey that makes them feel a bit better.

    Now I have no idea which of these two points of view is true but you seem to be suggesting some 85,000 men a year should be convicted of rape, based on the "proof" of your survey.

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  • 13. At 3:39pm on 09 Jul 2008, shootingsugarplum wrote:

    As a lawyer and also having experienced this I can see no way to make the law better. The innocent men accused must be protected as well as the victims and unfortunately this means the true victims facing the possibilty of not being believed. When it is by someone you know it is hard enough to believe it wasn't your fault yourself without having to convince a jury. It is one of those puzzles that will be difficult to resolve. I myself didn't even report it and will feel eternally guilty if the guy does it to anyone else.

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  • 14. At 3:40pm on 09 Jul 2008, ascylto wrote:

    There are some very good and insightful comments on this blog. My concerns in this area are that, as problematical as it may be, we should not tamper with the courts and jury system too easily. The system has evolved over centuries and should not be changed at whim.

    Already we see police forces listing complainants as 'victims' when this has not been proved. We witness even lawyers like Tony Blair saying there aren't enough convictions ... well, like it or not, it's juries which convict and judges who sentence, not politicians (thankfully!).

    The answers to this lie in careful and complete investigation by well-trained police and forensic workers. There are false as well as true allegations.

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  • 15. At 3:52pm on 09 Jul 2008, brilliantMC wrote:

    There should be programmes specifically tailored for the needs of boys and girls on the cusp of puberty with regard to rape.

    By that, I mean life lessons taught within a school environment with regard to:

    1. self-respect and confidence - the best self-defence against rape is self-worth and the knowledge that it is not something they deserve no matter what the perpetrator tells them (especially given that only a small amount of rapes are committed by strangers)

    2. introduction of a community police officer, school psychologist or teacher who they can trust

    3. boys should be taught to respect girls/women and not to categorise them as either saints or whores, and that "No means no".

    4. self-defence tactics for girls and boys should they find themselves confronted

    5. stranger danger - both awareness of whether they are being followed home, as well as internet safety

    I have geared the above to girls, but I am also depressingly aware that boys are subject to sexual abuse/rape.

    I am also aware that in the US, some schools have instigated a ground-up approach to tackling sexual abuse, wherein programmes are geared to particular age groups eg. kindergarten children are asked and taught, though the use of puppets, what is considered good versus bad touching eg. hugging by parents, close friends, is good, but being touched by anyone in places hidden by their underwear is wrong.

    Perhaps this is something that can be instigated by the NSPCC across the UK if given additional government funding?

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  • 16. At 3:56pm on 09 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    'Stranger rape' (the crimewatch scenario when masked man drags woman into waster ground and brutally attacks her) is incredibly rare.

    Most rapes are basically drunken women has drunken sex with drunken man. No-one disagrees that sex took place of who everyone was. The woman says she was raped, the man says she consented. There are no witnesses. basically its her word against his and no court in the land will ever, or should ever, convict on one persons word. As such these 'special units' are a total waste of time.

    It is however worth pointing out that once a rape case makes it to court convictions rates are about 30% which is better than many other crimes.

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  • 17. At 4:00pm on 09 Jul 2008, brilliantMC wrote:

    Is the astonishingly low conviction rate due to the perception that the raped women somehow deserved it?

    While I can offer no easy answers, I do believe that to prevent future rapes happening, there should be programmes specifically tailored for the needs of boys and girls on the cusp of puberty with regard to rape.

    By that, I mean life lessons taught within a school environment with regard to:

    1. self-respect and confidence - the best self-defence against rape is self-worth and the knowledge that it is not something they deserve no matter what the perpetrator tells them (especially given that only a small amount of rapes are committed by strangers)

    2. introduction of a community police officer, school psychologist or teacher who they can trust

    3. boys should be taught to respect girls/women and not to categorise them as either saints or whores, and that "No means no".

    4. self-defence tactics for girls and boys should they find themselves confronted

    5. stranger danger - both awareness of whether they are being followed home, as well as internet safety

    I have geared the above to girls, but I am also depressingly aware that boys are subject to sexual abuse/rape.

    I am also aware that in the US, some schools have instigated a ground-up approach to tackling sexual abuse, wherein programmes are geared to particular age groups eg. kindergarten children are asked and taught, though the use of puppets, what is considered good versus bad touching eg. hugging by parents, close friends, is good, but being touched by anyone in places hidden by their underwear is wrong.

    Perhaps this is something that can be instigated by the NSPCC across the UK if given additional government funding?

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  • 18. At 4:01pm on 09 Jul 2008, microsoft2123 wrote:

    Typical bbc nonsense when it comes to any feminist type issue - completely ignore reality and make it all up.

    No mention of the huge problem of false rape accusations - instead just assume that every single claim of rape is an actual rape. - what utter tosh. Just look how many people claim fto have been raped by footballers for it all later to be proved 100% false (the Robin Van Persie case comes to mind as particularly disgusting, though the uk media has barely touched on the reality of his case)

    Your one sided reporting has consequences - with the bbc always ignoring the problem of false accusations you're actually making things worse for the rape victims. Those who falsely cry rape makes things more difficult for genuine victims to be believed due to miniscule possibility of a jail sentence for false accusers. In fact the chances are that they won't even be prosecuted, even though their accusations invariably ruin the man's life.

    False accusers need to be given the same sentence that they attempted to inflict on their victims. Addtionally, and perhaps more importantly, we need all false accusers to be placed on the sex offenders register - as their crime is so serious. Serious both for the men they tried to imprison and who's lives they ruin, and for real victims of rape too.

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  • 19. At 4:19pm on 09 Jul 2008, B_Cooke wrote:

    To those arguing that women make up rape claims. Aside from how ridiculous this really is (putting yourself through the embarrassment of medical examinations, police questioning and legal cross examination - just for a lark!) Please ask yourself, would you be ok with your mother being raped, your sister, or how about your daughter?

    Is it ok if they were drunk? How about if it was somone they'd slept with before?

    People only seem to think women deserve rape when they or their loved ones aren't the victims.

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  • 20. At 4:19pm on 09 Jul 2008, TheGovtDespisesYou wrote:

    Such figures are often very subjective. A rabid feminist all-men-are-rapists outlook combined with a modern victimhood mentality may mean that some women will define themselves as being raped when this is not the case. Most people, whether men or women, have had sex at some point in their lives even though they didn't want to, perhaps because they felt pressurised. For some people this is rape, for most it is just a chore. Don't misunderstand me - genuine rape is a dreadful crime but the word needs to be applied properly.
    I am also very concerned about alleged 'rape' when both parties are extremely drunk. We are told that no woman that drunk is in a fit state to give consent and therefore cannot be held responsible for any apparent 'consent' she may have given. By that logic no man can also be held responsible for his actions if he is equally drunk. I am very unhappy about the sexist nature of the current law which seems to demonise only the man in a sexual encounter of mutual drunkenness. I once had sex with a woman when I was blind drunk, she was not and arguably took advantage of me. Does that mean I was raped? Not if you're a man it doesn't, no.

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  • 21. At 4:26pm on 09 Jul 2008, Rapedwife wrote:

    I was raped by my husband. I reported it reluctantly to the police months later and then only because there were suspicions that my husband had sexually abused at least one of our children and I thought the rape might be relevant as an indication of his general violence and sexual abusiveness.
    The police are overly keen in my experience to interview the perpetrator rather than getting a full statement from the victim. It may be they do this to get a reasonable evaluation of the prospects of bringing the case to trial. For whatever reason they adopt this approach, it made me feel that they didn't want to listen to what happened from me, nor hear my view on how to best get a confession from my husband.
    I have never been offered counselling by the police or by any agency I saw since - Social Services, Family Welfare, CAFCASS. But in fact studies show that the psychological effects of marital rape, given the abuse of trust as well as the violation, are at least as long-lived and difficult as with stranger rape.
    Half (yes, half!) of all women under NHS treatment for mental health report some form of sexual assault or abuse - whether in childhood or as an adult. Just think how much money (and lives) the government would save if early post-traumatic counselling were on offer, rather than leaving these victims for years to deal with their depression and other symptoms of trauma before the problems become acute.
    I visited a police run victim care centre - homely enough for a forensic examination, but with no long-term support. A victim is not the focus of criminal justice, the perpetrator is. Victims are left feeling marginalised and disbelieved.
    What happened on my case was that the crown prosecution service decided a husband v wife case without no corroboration was not worth their resources to pursue. My husband was told the case was dropped. He translated this into portraying me as a vindictive liar. However, the police told me they believed me. I would have loved to have had this in writing. There is a police criminal intelligence report against my husband. The day the case was dropped, victim support stopped phoning me. It was as if the rape had never happened. At that point, I wished I had never reported it, rather than to be branded a liar as well as having been raped.
    I would like to see urgent action on the establishment of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre for every 250,000 people, nationwide. These SARCs should not only deal with evidence gathering and urgent victim medical care but with the long term effects a woman (and male victims) can feel on rape and sexual assault. We need survivor groups for all people having suffered rape, whether or not their cases are brought to trial. Boris Johnson promised three new SARCs for London in his manifesto. Where are they?
    But when it comes to criminal justice, I accept the burden of proof is beyond reasonable doubt. So what I'd like to see is some half way house for justice for people like me. It did happen to me. The police believed me. Why not increase access to civil remedies for rape victims? I could prove domestic violence to a civil law standard. Maybe with the police's help I could prove rape to a civil law standard. But not only for compensation but for some sort of recognition that on a balance of probabilities only, my husband did do this. Perhaps the police should be more pro-active in supporting victims to do this. Could people not be described as suspected of offences once a reasonable level of proof had been met and have that put on their police files but with a copy given to the victim and could I not have justice in that small way?
    I was raped. It's a fact about me. To allow people to deny it about me is a repeated abuse.
    One final point, as I guess someone will make it on the blog. The rate of false reporting of rape is no higher than the average of false allegations for any other crime. It is every woman's duty to report rape as a crime against society not just her person. Statistically, women do not allege rape where it has not happened.

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  • 22. At 4:30pm on 09 Jul 2008, treefernkate wrote:

    I quite agree with other respondents that when the evidence is no more than one man's word v one woman's word it must generally lead to acquittal, because a criminal act has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. However, it seems to me there is a way of catching those men who repeatedly abuse the trust of women they know by raping them, and that is by taking such cases together rather than separately. So, if woman A accuses man Z of rape, but there's no solid proof, keep that accusation on file. If Z then goes on to be accused of rape by women B, C, D, we no longer have one woman's word against one man's word, we have 4 women's testimony all saying essentially the same thing. That should generally lead to conviction, in my opinion.

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  • 23. At 4:59pm on 09 Jul 2008, alwaysalready wrote:

    "The idea that anything other than a tiny minority of men have the capacity to rape a woman is truly awful." I think most people would agree, AndyC555.

    But unlike your estimate that "1 in 200 women" lied on an anonymous survey, because they are "crazy", the statistics in this report are accurate and verifiable. Yes, rapists are a minority, but the (seemingly widespread) belief in the myth that rape is only committed by a tiny number of psychopaths is one of the main reasons for such a minute conviction rate.

    Since you think "there's a good chance that 1 on 200 men are a little bit crazy at any one time", why are you surprised at the number of rapes that are committed? Andy doth protest too much, methinks.

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  • 24. At 5:06pm on 09 Jul 2008, jonnny1981 wrote:

    The report and reaserch results are very interesting.

    If the results are read in a different fashion it may show that women are making false allegations against Men than previously. This of course makes the convictions of men who did actually commit rape harder to prove.

    It does not tackle the problem of Men being the victim of a false allegation , is there any support for these victims from the state, ? The Law protects womens identities so they are free to say whatever they like and ruin their lives, take John Leslie for example.

    I was lying in bed at 2am in the morning when 4 police officers arrested me for rape, I was held for 20 hours , had my clothes taken my room searched and then had to wait 3 months before no charges were brought.My family went thorugh hell and i nearly go thrown out of University I was completely inncocent.

    This comment may sound like I am bitter , I am not i feel sorry for my allegator who ultimately makes it harder for other women who have been raped to get a conviction against the rapist.

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  • 25. At 6:14pm on 09 Jul 2008, FalseRapeArchivist wrote:

    I am perplexed by what is omitted as much as by the content of what is included.

    First, there is no reference to false claims. Objectively verifiable data suggests that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false. Yet the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the feminist sexual assault milieu that it has been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape. Sadly, that is what appears to have occurred here. Sexual assault counselors often disingenuously refer to false accusations as a "myth." Denigrating the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimization as a myth is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

    Second, the statistics referenced are from studies taken exclusively from the female perspective with no verification that the questions they answered satisfied the legal test for rape. The female's secret and subjective wishes to withhold consent are not at all pertinent. The legal test for determining if rape occurred is not based on the female's perspective but rather on the male's; specifically: would a reasonable person in the male's position understand that the female assented to sex based on her outward, objective manifestations of words or conduct? It is clear beyond cavil that men and women sometimes have different perspectives on whether the woman's behavior (and that's all that matters) manifested consent, yet the studies didn't bother asking men or even asking the women for more details. Silence can and often does manifest consent, depending on the circumstances. Consent need not be "enthusiastic" (observe a couple trying to have a baby -- at times their lovemaking routine resembles workers heading to a factory). A lack of manifested consent earlier or after-the-fact is irrelevant to whether there was consent at the time the act occurred. So, to know if there was not legal consent, we would need more information than these studies allow. It is clear that a significant portion of women do feel conflicted about sex at times but whether this rises to the level of legal rape is another question. In any event, how does asking only females provide an accurate picture when the legal test is from the male's perspective? Is this because of the stereotype that women don't lie about rape, but presumably men do? How insulting.

    My Web site discusses these terribly politically incorrect but important issues: falserapesociety.blogspot.com

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  • 26. At 6:26pm on 09 Jul 2008, Dunky_R wrote:

    Is there a role for criminal/forensic psychologists? I mean basically talking to a person and assessing how strong a motivation for either carrying out a rape, lying about carrying out a rape or lying about being raped, might exist? Wouldn't this then count as expert evidence and possibly tip the scales? In a way this would build up a character of the accused and accuser and surely would help. I have to be honest I don't thoroughly know how the system works but from reading the posts and the article this sort of seems like a possible option.

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  • 27. At 6:30pm on 09 Jul 2008, lujlpusa wrote:

    @ B_Cooke you said "Why anyone would go through the process of falsely reporting a rape is beyond me"

    Well here is a story form just 6 days ago where a woman did report a false rape.

    She had a couple of drinks, seduced an old school mate, cheated on her long time boyfreind and father of her child and figures accueing the guy of rape would absolve her of guilt in the eyes of the lover she cheated on.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/editors-choice/2008/07/03/exclusive-teenager-slams-justice-system-after-rape-lies-hell-86908-20629201/

    There was a case a year or o ago in america where a woman cheating on her husband was cught in the act, she cried rape and her husband shot and killer her lover thinking he was defending her from a rapist

    http://news.aol.com/story/_a/cry-of-rape-lands-cheating-wife-in-jail/20080503153909990001

    Austrailia recently passed a law saying if two drunk people have sex and the woman cries rape after the fact the guy can not argue in court he was drunk as well. This will undoubtedly leave juries with the WRONG impression that a sober guy took advantage of an drunk gal.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23619670-7583,00.html

    People lie, women are rarely, if ever, punished for lying about rape. And given the complete lack of any consequence is it any wonder that women occasionally lie about it?

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  • 28. At 7:38pm on 09 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    Alwaysalready...

    I did not say that 1 in 200 hundred women lied in a survey about rape, just that unless we were there, we cannot know the truth. To state that conviction rates are not high eough is to assume that those accused are guilty.

    If you surveyed 200 men, I wouldn't be surprised to find that one of them claimed to have been raped or sexually assualted by a girl. I woldn't assume their claim to be true.

    Unless you have been falsely accused of rape/assualt, I wouldn't be so quick to accuse me of protesting too much.

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  • 29. At 7:39pm on 09 Jul 2008, microsoft2123 wrote:

    Wow that case in Scotland is truely sickening - eight days in jail for putting the guy through that ordeal and ruining his reputation - yes that's eight DAYS not months or years.

    A quick search reveals absolutely no mention of the story on the bbc website whatsoever.

    Bbc seems perfectly happy reporting alleged rapes, but ignores all the false ones - when are you going to start reporting the truth?

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  • 30. At 7:39pm on 09 Jul 2008, Peter Bolt wrote:

    I feel I must say something in regard to the comments at 19. (B_Cooke)
    I can assure you from my own experience as a "run of the mill" CID Officer.
    A woman (no less than any man) will lie when confronted by a "loved one" demanding an explantion for a transgression involving sexual activities.

    It always does end in tears perhaps that is why so many of us Coppers are so cynical.

    Rape is nasty and vicious (even when no actual violence is used),but so is being prepared to send a man to prison for 8 or 9 years rather that face the truth.

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  • 31. At 8:59pm on 09 Jul 2008, Rachel Blackburn wrote:

    Hm. So 1 in 200 have been raped in the last year, and 1 in 20 since they were 16? Given the age range of the survey is about 40 years, the average "since 16" time is about 20 years implying an overall rate of 1 in 400 per year.

    So either the current rape rate is double the average of the last 20 years or else these statistics are sufficiently broken that trying to extrapolate meaningful numbers from them - as you do - is utterly pointless.

    If they want to get the rape conviction rape up, they need to extend anonymity to the accused. If women know they can no longer ruin a man's life by false accusation then maybe fewer of us will do so - and those that do accuse may be taken a bit more seriously without that motive to be accused of.

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  • 32. At 11:43pm on 09 Jul 2008, microsoft2123 wrote:

    Nice to see so much agreement and so many knowledgeable posts on how to deal with the situation.

    All so much more sensible then any of the bbc articles and any government policies too not to mention any of the organisations supposedly set up to help rape victims.

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  • 33. At 10:32am on 10 Jul 2008, S Leckie wrote:

    I really don't understand why so many think that a significant number of women would lie about rape in an anonymous survey. What could they hope to gain out of it?

    Also, talking about 'false' rape accusations is misleading. As 95% of rape cases go without convictions, 95% of accused rapists are innocent in law. Does this mean that 95% of women lie about rape?

    It's the myth that rape is something done by lunatics and strangers that perpetuates nonsense like this. You think "There's no way me/my friends/my family could rape, therefore the stats must be wrong." but it's us and our attitude that is wrong.

    Of course those who are proven to have genuinely wasted police time and use the courts to spitefully try and ruin the innocent should be punished, and far more severely than is currently done, but what of genuine rape victims who think "If I don't get a conviction, I'll be the one going to jail"?

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  • 34. At 11:36am on 10 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 11:41am on 10 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #26 "Is there a role for criminal/forensic psychologists? I mean basically talking to a person and assessing how strong a motivation for either carrying out a rape, lying about carrying out a rape or lying about being raped, might exist? Wouldn't this then count as expert evidence and possibly tip the scales? "

    Two words. Roy Meadows.

    I can think of no more frightening idea than being jailed for life because someone with a string of letter after his name THINKS a women is telling the truth and I'm lying.

    Under UK law guilt must be proven 'beyond all reasonable doubt' and I'd be filling the petrol bombs and manning the barricades if they overturn that.

    Would you support a terror conviction because an expert 'thinks' the person may be a jihadi? I doubt it.

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  • 36. At 12:18pm on 10 Jul 2008, DancingPhoenix wrote:

    To reply # 16, "most rapes are basically drunken woman has sex with drunken man" - uh, yes, I've had unsatisfying sex after being slightly over the limit; I've also been raped by someone who deliberately spiked my drink for the purpose. Guess what? I'm still sane enough to tell the difference!

    And in reply to some of the other comments here, does this mean that I'm some evil feminist with an agenda to prove that every man is a potential rapist? Uh, actually, no, I still know which men in my life I trust. But clearly there *are* some sick characters out there who will probably go on raping or abusing multiple times, unless they're caught and dealt with properly.

    Let's not make this some childish "men versus women" debate, as some people here seem to want to make it. Men can also be victims of sexual assault, and some women can also be guilty of abuse. As a society, let's find ways of dealing with the rapists/abusers effectively rather than this kind of bickering.

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  • 37. At 2:55pm on 10 Jul 2008, Peter_Sym wrote:

    " DancingPhoenix wrote:

    "To reply # 16, "most rapes are basically drunken woman has sex with drunken man" - uh, yes, I've had unsatisfying sex after being slightly over the limit; I've also been raped by someone who deliberately spiked my drink for the purpose. Guess what? I'm still sane enough to tell the difference!"

    If thats true then I'm truly sorry, but it rather proves my point. In court you'd say your drink was spiked, he'd say you drank too much and consented. Was there any evidence to support your version that would stand up in court? If not, then even though you WERE raped it COULDN'T be proven and you don't jail people without proof. "

    If you'd read my originally comment carefully you'd see I made no claim that either party was 'in the right', or questioned the sanity of anyone who is raped while drunk. I simply made the same argument the defendants lawyer would make and its a watertight defence.

    Do you think someone should be sentenced to 20 years in jail on one persons word, without any evidence? I don't, even if the defendant is actually guilty as hell.

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  • 38. At 2:57pm on 10 Jul 2008, UglyJohn wrote:




    9. At 3:15pm on 09 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:
    " The idea that anything other than a tiny minority of men have the capacity to rape a woman is truly awful. I know I never would or could and nor can I imagine any male friend I know doing the same thing."






    Speaking as a man, and anything but a feminist, I can see some merit in the old Feminist slogan that "all men are rapists," with slight modification.

    I do not believe all men are rapists, but I have no trouble beliving that most men have the capacity to rape a woman.

    Most do not, and will never do so because most currently have an ethical and moral stance which means they would not consider it. However, that stance can be changed by external influences.

    Read some psychology studies, especially Skinner on behaviour and Milgram on Obedience. People can be pressured into behaving in a way that does not reflect their nature.

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  • 39. At 3:33pm on 10 Jul 2008, myrtlestim wrote:

    Rape and sexual assault are deplorable, without question: however there is an apparent flaw in this information which could be inflating the figures. If the clumsy and, frankly, wrong definition of rape comes from the study then it indicates that some sexual assault incidents have been included, and not just rape. The definition in this blog reads: "the penetration of the vagina or anus without consent and penetration of the mouth by a penis without consent." It should read: "the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with the penis", as defined by s.1 Sexual Offences Act 2003. A conviction for rape is dependent on any penetration being made with the penis. This blog's definition includes non-penile penetration.

    This loose definition, if indeed it is the study's definition, of rape will of course lead to low conviction rates, as a large proportion of the alleged rapes will not fall under the legal definition. Hence a conviction would not be secured. Responsive policies would be better framed if founded on accurate information. This would help raise conviction rate for this horrendous act.

    On the other hand, if the flawed definition is the fault of the author; more care should be taken when writing about such emotionally charged issues.

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  • 40. At 4:01pm on 10 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    UglyJohn

    "Most men have the capacity to rape a woman"

    Well, indeed they do. Just as most men have the capacity to murder a small child. As indeed do most women have the same capacity. Does this mean we should go through life assuming all adults are child killers unless they positively prove to us that they are not?

    You seem to be implying that it's almost some whim that can be changed by external influences turning a man into a rapist almost beyond his control. If the statistics really are to be believed, it implies that there are around 5,000,000 men in this country guilty of rape. Do you really believe that??!!

    There is no merit whatsoever in the feminist slogan "all men are rapists", modified or not.

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  • 41. At 8:22pm on 10 Jul 2008, TheGovtDespisesYou wrote:

    To DancingPhoenix, you've clearly misunderstood my point when you say
    "does this mean that I'm some evil feminist with an agenda to prove that every man is a potential rapist? Uh, actually, no" Of course rape is real and loathsome and I hope you got or get justice for what happend to you. I also agree 100% "there are some sick characters out there who will probably go on raping or abusing multiple times, unless they're caught and dealt with properly". I was simply making the point that statistics based on subjective definitions need to be treated cautiously as unfortunately we do live in a cultural climate that frequently does demonise men (as I tried to make clear by drawing attention to sexual encounters of mutual drunkenness where afterwards only the man is deemed to have possibly committed a sexual offence) and we do live in a blame culture where assuing a victim role is often a knee jerk reaction.

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  • 42. At 08:11am on 11 Jul 2008, Rebecca SW wrote:

    #31 "Hm. So 1 in 200 have been raped in the last year, and 1 in 20 since they were 16? Given the age range of the survey is about 40 years, the average "since 16" time is about 20 years implying an overall rate of 1 in 400 per year."

    This assumes that each woman is only raped once. Especially for those who know their attacker, being raped in one year will increase the risk of being raped in another.

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  • 43. At 09:43am on 11 Jul 2008, Rapedwife wrote:

    The debate has degenerated into a debate purely about criminal justice. Of course, justice would be nice for me. Justice not to be portrayed as a liar by my ex-husband who raped me. I'd be very happy to name him on this website, except I know it would be edited out. Let him sue me for libel and put the burden of proof on him not on me. But what really matters to me is recovering from my ordeal. Justice is part of that recovery process, but access to free counselling and survivors groups would actually play a bigger part for me. I can accept society won't lock up my husband without beyond reasonable doubt proof but why am I left with no support other than very expensive psychotherapy that I must pay for myself. I was raped. My recovery is more important than his conviction. Where can I get help? There is no rape crisis centre in the county in which I live (which has 700,000 inhabitants).
    Can we leave this justice debate behind and start blogging about what can be done to help victims? (As an aside of course, anyone who willingly spends more than £500 per month for several years on psychotherapy to cope with the aftermath of what she sufffered at the hands of a rapist is likely to be telling the truth about the attack, don't you think?).
    Rape has made me depressive and suicidal. It has jeopardised my job prospects and earning potential and even called my parenting skills into question. My ex husband can re-marry at will. I can't bring myself to try to start dating again after such a breach of trust. I feel resigned to be lonely for the rest of my life. That's sentence the rapist imposed on me. Can the debate please focus on the needs of the victim. If some "victims" have counselling arising from false allegations so be it.

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  • 44. At 11:09pm on 11 Jul 2008, UglyJohn wrote:



    40. At 4:01pm on 10 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:
    UglyJohn

    "Most men have the capacity to rape a woman"

    Well, indeed they do. Just as most men have the capacity to murder a small child. As indeed do most women have the same capacity. Does this mean we should go through life assuming all adults are child killers unless they positively prove to us that they are not?"

    NO, YOU HAVE COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD WHAT I SAID. GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN. NOBODY SHOULD ASSUME THAT THERE IS ANYONE ON THIS PLANET WHO IS INCAPABLE OF RAPE. THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THEY WOULD CARRY OUT THIS ACT MAY BE LIKELY OR UNLIKELY, BUT NEVER UNIMAGINABLE.

    You seem to be implying that it's almost some whim that can be changed by external influences turning a man into a rapist almost beyond his control.

    A WHIM, NO.
    A SINGLE EVENT, NO.
    SUSTAINED EXPERIENCE WHICH BRUTALISES YOUR NATURE AND CHANGES YOUR VIEWS, YES.

    If the statistics really are to be believed, it implies that there are around 5,000,000 men in this country guilty of rape. Do you really believe that??!!

    NO I DON'T, BECAUSE THAT WOULD IMPLY THAT ALL THOSE WHO RAPE, DO SO ONLY ONCE, WHICH IS SILLY.

    WHAT IS MORE LIKELY IS THAT THERE ARE A NUMBER OF MEN OUT THERE WHO COMMIT THIS ACT MORE THAN ONCE, AND THAT NUMBER IS LESS THAN 5 MILLION.

    There is no merit whatsoever in the feminist slogan "all men are rapists", modified or not.

    THERE IS NO MERIT IN ARROGANCE WHICH ASSUMES THAT AN INDIVIDUAL'S ETHICAL OR MORAL STANCE IS INCAPABLE OF BEING AFFECTED.

    AS I SUGGESTED, GO READ MILGRAM ON OBEDIENCE, ESPECIALLY THE PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS WITH LAYMEN, EXPERTS AND STUDENTS, AND THE CONCLUSIONS THEY REACHED.

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  • 45. At 11:11pm on 11 Jul 2008, UglyJohn wrote:



    40. At 4:01pm on 10 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:
    UglyJohn

    If the statistics really are to be believed, it implies that there are around 5,000,000 men in this country guilty of rape. Do you really believe that??!!

    THERE IS A SUBSET OF PORNOGRAPHIC WEBSITES WHICH DEPICT RAPE, RAPE OF INTOXICATED WOMEN, RAPE OF JUVENILES, VIOLENT RAPE AND SO ON. THEY ARE VERY POPULAR.

    WHO DO YOU THINK USES THEM?

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  • 46. At 08:13am on 12 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    Uglyjohn

    I could not rape anyone.

    Are you really saying it is arrogant of me to say so?

    Do you think that if Milgram was trying to get students to rape a woman rather than press a button he would have got the same result?

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  • 47. At 08:27am on 12 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    UglyJohn

    I'm curious.

    What is your evidence that rape websites are "very popular"? I have never met anyone who finds the idea of them anything other than revolting.

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  • 48. At 7:46pm on 14 Jul 2008, redgloops wrote:

    To rapedwife

    Would justice satisfy you and make you better. No it wouldnt. Making yourself better is within yourself. I have never been raped but my daughter has but no proof was available it was her word against his. I didnt moan about it because I knew the law would do nothing and I encouraged my daughter to get on with her life and not ruin it by always thinking about it. She did put it behind her and thankfully she is a stong woman like me and did marry and have children with no detrimental effect whatsoever. It became part of her history and mine and she is now very settled and considers the past the past and over and done with.

    Family support is vital, far better than any expensive psychotherapy could ever achieve

    I do not want to sound harsh, because I am not that type of person but understanding yourself, what happened etc is good for your own peace of mind.

    If your husband got away with it I am sure that he will probably slip up again and hopefully get caught.



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  • 49. At 9:23pm on 14 Jul 2008, Rapedwife wrote:

    To Redgloops
    You have no idea when your daughter's trauma may come back to haunt her. You have no idea either of the trauma I have gone through. I agree with you that the debate about rape is far too wrapped up in the debate about criminal justice though and the desire to pretend it's perpetrated by monsters rather than men from every walk of life and the desire to pretend that women ask for it. My mother is dead and my family support network largely died with her. SOme families are less supportive than others. Your glossing over what happened may work for you and your daughter. It doesn't work for me. And how on earth can you call it "slipping up" when a man commits rape? I think you have misunderstood what rape is if you can think that a man does it by accident, like slipping on a sexual banana skin. Just because you seem to think your daughter is OK now, doesn't mean others should be deprived of the help that they need.
    As for the suggestion that I am not strong like you and your daughter, I'm a full-time working single mother. I've paid off my mortgage with my own efforts and am now a charity trustee helping others. People see me as strong. Strong people are those that admit to their hurts, not those that paper them over.
    Do you not think that an attitude of "get over it" that you have both condones and minimises the crime and damages the victim?

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  • 50. At 04:39am on 15 Jul 2008, GSHedges wrote:

    I largely agree with Rapedwife, you cannot loop everyone's "healing process" into one solution. Everyone will have different circumstances revolving around the most traumatic experiences in their life and there is never one cure.

    Justice can offer closure for some and sometimes you just can't heal and move on without it. It does haunt you when you least expect it; one word, visual or smell can bring it all back.

    I have also found comfort in talking to a counsellor, sometimes when you go through something like that you just cannot go to your family to transfer that pain to another or just the sheer embarrassment holds you back. Talking to a stranger does help, their opinion is not bias towards what they already know of you.

    Even though it is an American organisation I'd recommend checking out RAINN, I have supported them for a long time.

    To Rapedwife, I admire your strength and hope that, if you have not already found it, you find that closure that so many people forget about and try to sweep under the carpet.

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  • 51. At 11:32am on 16 Jul 2008, JHiggsy wrote:

    In "stranger rape" cases, it is almost always clear that a rape has occurred; the issue is the identity of the rapist.
    These cases have a much higher than 9% success rate. They also represent only a small section of rape offences.

    In the vast majority of other cases, the issue will be consent. The defendant and the complainant will have spent time together, often over months or years. The actual sexual acts will have occurred in private, without witnesses. No amount of police expertise or changes in the law will change this.

    In such cases, there may well be real doubt about whether the complainant did in fact consent, and juries very often acquit. When they do, it is because they were not sure that a rape actually occurred. Juries now hear all the evidence, and every step is taken to minimise the difficulties of giving evidence.

    Why are these cases nonetheless retained statistically as cases of rape? It is wrong to count them as cases where a rape if there was an acquittal. They are cases where a rape did not occur (or may not have occurred) at all.

    The fact that there are a large number of acquittals does not reflect badly on anyone, except possibly the CPS, who are only supposed to prosecute if there is a 51% chance of conviction, but who plainly prosecute applying a much lower threshhold, thus raising unrealistic expectations (see the Code for Prosecutors, para 5.3)

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  • 52. At 10:21am on 17 Jul 2008, Rapedwife wrote:

    The trouble with an acquittal is that it is based on the prosecution's inability to prove a case BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. However, an acquittal doesn't mean a rape didn't take place and that the victim is wrong. It simply means the evidence was lacking. In these cases, statistics should record reported rapes and convicted rapes. Victims of acquitted rapes or of rapes which do not go to court should still be entitled to support and counselling even though criminal justice is not available to them.
    Unless someone can prove to the same degree of BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT that a rape did not take place, then victims are being denied justice.

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  • 53. At 1:39pm on 18 Jul 2008, AndyC555 wrote:

    Rapedwife

    You say others see you as strong, as you seem to be. But do you see YOURSELF as strong?

    Your very choice of name on here makes me wonder if that is how you define what you are. There's more to you than this one incident.

    Others on here have spoken of closure and moving on. If there cannot be a satisfactory closure for you, then what choices do you have? Continue to carry this with you or find a place to leave it behind. It happened and that can't be changed but you cannot let it define your future.

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  • 54. At 3:57pm on 19 Jul 2008, Rapedwife wrote:

    Thanks AndyC555. AndyC555 is a bit of an odd name. I'm sure your friends don't call you that all the time. Mine don't call me raped wife. This is a blog about rape, so we're talking about rape. I chose to blog in as Raped Wife to explain why I'm writing in - because I was raped by my husband. I'm not one dimensional - I'm just focussing on the debate.
    Yes, I am strong - self-defined and validated by others.
    Yes, I would like closure. But Rape Crisis Centres are closing not opening and there isn't one within a 40 mile radius of where I live. Closure does not mean forgetting all about it either, it means accepting the impact the rape has had and allowing that impact to be a part, but hopefully not an overwhelming part, of my history.
    Furthermore, I did not begin contributing to this blog purely to talk about my own experience but to attempt to address the issue of better victim care and better public awareness.
    But thank you for writing in because I do think what you say is well-meaning and your remarks highlight why so many victim groups choose to call themselves survivor groups as the way society uses the word vcitim connotes such helplessness and lack of prospect of recovery as to actually be a re-victimatisation in itself. By writing as you do about me, I think you think of me as a victim . I think I'm a survivor in need of support.

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  • 55. At 7:44pm on 19 Jul 2008, redgloops wrote:

    Dear Raped Wife

    I agree with AnyC555 to his point that are you strong within yourself and that there appears to be more to you than you are saying

    Please dont use semantics with the words "slip up" its just a way of saying he will probably do it again and get caught.

    I also was a career woman and paid my mortgage etc etc and I am proud of myself for doing that along with my husband and millions of more people who have done the same

    As Andy says please leave it behind and stop brooding about it because I have seen enough and been through enough in life to know that you will only become bitter about it.

    My mother is dead so is my father but long before they died they both taught me to be independant for which I am eternally grateful as it a wonderful gift

    I was given 5 years to live in 1994 but after much trauma and being in hospital I got over it. Yes I had my vital childbearing organs and others taken away from me but did I moan, no I didnt. I had a stroke 6 months ago and I am getting over that as well so if I can get over major traumas I am sure you can

    Life goes on but you cannot drag the past along with the present. The past is the past, leave it there.

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  • 56. At 11:41am on 21 Jul 2008, granitejacaranda wrote:

    I am glad to see that the Police have been woken to improve their rape reporting centres and publicity due to the pathetic conviction rates. The main problems for women reporting their cases is the lack of privacy and information as well as the fact that police interviewers are often men.
    2. Different police forces handle rape cases with different procedures....these need to be properly ordered by the Attorney General and improper police procedures stringently followed up by the IPCC.
    3. Speed up the handling of Forensic evidence as seriously as you would with murder cases. Rape suspect evidence to be properly video-recorded on top of written statements. This can often give juries a much better impression of a suspect`s demeanour at the time of the allegation.

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