“HE GRABBED ME FROM BEHIND. He threw me down and I knew, instinctively, what he was going to do. He kept tearing at my clothes, ripping them off. I fought back with all my strength, but I couldn’t get him to stop. He was so much stronger. I kept trying to scream…, opened my mouth, but no sounds came out. I was so terrified. He didn’t have a knife or anything, but he could kill me if he wanted to. I couldn’t breathe. I was dry and it felt like he was rubbing me with sandpaper. Every thrust seemed to take forever, and felt like a hot knife poking into my raw vagina. I kept hearing tearing- and thought it was clothing. Only later did I realize it was me that was tearing. As a result of the attack, he ripped off part of my labia majora; my clitoris is permanently damaged; I have scar tissue all through my vagina which has incredibly reduced my sensitivity to sex. Somebody please tell me why I’m still alive!”
Many stories of this kind are heard everywhere, they are totally bewildering! But what is this?, why does it exist in our society?, can men be raped?, what are the side-effects on the victims? Who is to blame for the culture of rape?, how can we prevent rape and how can it be curbed?
Rape is forced or manipulated sexual intercourse.
Rape is not sex: It is an act of violence, aggression and power. Rape is forced contact or penetration of the mouth, anus or vagina by any object or body part. A person may be forced to have sex through verbal threats, physical restraints, intimidation or violence. Rape is a crime that occurs within a socio-cultural context, it is a hate crime used as a weapon to maintain the position of dominance by the men over the women. Men use the fear, the threat, and the silence surrounding rape to keep themselves in a dominant position over the women.
There are different types of rape such as:
- Stranger Rape: Intercourse forced by a stranger.
- Statutory Rape: Intercourse between an adult and someone under 17, regardless of consent.
- Acquaintance Rape: Intercourse forced by a known person to the victim or someone the victim has met before.
- Date Rape: Intercourse forced during a date or by someone the victim is dating.
- Gang Rape: This is when there is more than one person forcing sex on the victim. The majority of rape cases fall under acquaintance or date rape, between people who know each other.
Many people still wonder why this culture exist in our society. However, the answer is not far-fetched. People have differing reason but legally or morally, there is no justification for raping anyone. Many at times, men use it as a form of punishment, proof of manhood, winning challenges/bets from their peers. Few also do it because it seems all the girls they’ve asked out keeps rejecting their offer and this might make them feel rejected.
Society has taught us these stereotypes, while the media has promoted them. As a result, we live in a society that believes many myths about rape. Some people believe that it is understandable if a man if a man forces intercourse because:
- He has spent a lot of money on her
- He is so turned on he can’t stop
- She has had sex with him or many others before
- She wears sexy or suggestive clothing
- She has been dating him for a long time
- She says “no”, but he thinks she means yes
- She says “yes”, but changes her mind later
- She has been drinking or is asleep
- She goes up to his room or anywhere to be alone with him
- She is out late all by herself
- She led him on.
All of these are excuses, regardless of the situation. What a woman is wearing, at what time she is out or how she walks; a lady still has the right to say “no” and her decision be respected. The victim is never to blame, only the rapist causes rape.
This is any forced or unwanted sexual contact as defined by the victim. Many people have been sexually abused at one time or the other, but mostly during their childhood. Sexual abusers are often times people we trust and like very much as children, e.g. our favorite relative, best teacher, neighbor, grandpa, etc. statistics show that 9 out of every 10 abusers were abused as children. Such people, misuse their victim’s “vote of confidence” by using this to lure them into a lonely place where they can carry out this immoral act. Initially, these children don’t submit willingly. Following the fact that this sexual abuser knows the child will not consent to this act, or might tell an older person later, he may tell the victim terrifying things like: “if you tell anyone, your little brother or your mummy will die”. These innocent kids who love their families so much would have no choice, but to submit to the abuser’s pressure.
Due to the sudden intrusion on a rape victim’s privacy, the victim finds it difficult to get over the experience, in most cases, the victim just wants to stop existing or the sexuality of such a person changes completely. This is in an attempt to change her identity; part of her effort to bury the experience. The victim more often than not begins to react strangely:
- She may choose to become celibate, i.e. personal decision to abstain from sex.
- She may isolate herself from others, for fear of being noticed as pretty or anything which might trigger a recurrence; she may develop an aggressive attitude as she becomes more sensitive and defensive; she may experience recurring anxiety or complete agitation; she avoids being touched on the shoulder or being held close; simple well intended touches reminds her of this unfortunate experience.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE RAPED
It is only normal to feel shock after this experience, but one must make some fast moves if you intend to catch up with the rapist. The following suggestions should be of help:
- Tell someone immediately so that you can have a witness who can testify to seeing your state of mind immediately after the experience.
- Take photos of yourself immediately after the rape. This can be done in a hospital on your request.
- Do not bath so as to keep the evidence of finger-prints and blood stains.
- Gather the clothes you had on during the rape. Wrap the clothes in paper bag and not a plastic bag as this might get rid of finger-prints.
- Go with someone to the nearest police station to report the rape and don’t leave until your report has been documented.
- Go to a hospital or clinic to treat your wounds and take proper medication and general check-up.
Justice delayed is justice denied they say, thus you must continuously go to the station where you reported to see that the rapist is caught and brought to book. However, if you discover that the authorities are delaying actions, you may report to bodies such as LRRDC (Legal Research And Resource Development Center), where a lawyer can be given to you to defend you in court either free of charge or at a considerable charge.
Rape is a very terrible experience especially for a lady. There are bound to be bruises, cuts, bleeding, scratches, tears, and so on. The consequences are endless. It ranges from total quiet and calm to complete agitation. You may feel ashamed, violated, angry, shocked, and even destabilized. You probably have been trying to forget, but we all know it isn’t easy to forget such an experience. It takes a lot of help and willingness to forget, to actually put the experience behind you. You may even find it difficult to trust the opposite sex ever again! It is alright to feel offended, but never blame yourself. You need to talk to someone about it to feel better. Share it with someone you trust.
If you feel like sharing your experience with us or you want fellow readers to learn from yours, please write to:
Growing Up Newsletter,
Action Health Incorporated
P.O.Box 803, Yaba, Lagos.