Thursday, March 6, 2014

How Does a Rape Victim Behave?

There was a story in the news last week in which a guilty verdict in the trial of a man accused of repeatedly raping a young woman with Down syndrome in 2010 was overturned by the judge who had presided over the case, requesting a new trial. 

Overturned, after a jury found the man guilty

Of the rape of a woman with an intellectual disability.

And get this...there's more...

He overturned it and requested a new trial because the woman with Down syndrome "did not behave like a victim."



Let's look at some statistics for a moment, quoted from the Report on the 2012 National Survey on Abuse of People with Disabilities:

41.6% of the 1,234 people with disabilities surveyed (both intellectual and physical disabilities are represented here, and caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities unable to respond for themselves are included as respondents) reported having experienced sexual abuse.

Of that 41.6%, 34.2% of those had intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Among people with disabilities (all) who reported they had been victims of abuse (all types), only 37.3% said they had reported it to authorities.  When a family member learns of the abuse, that rate of reporting rises to 51.7%.

41% of victims of sexual abuse did not report it.

Why such crazy numbers?

Fear, futility, lack of information.

58% believed that nothing would happen.

38% had been threatened or were afraid.

33% did not know how or where to report it.

And you know what?  They were probably right.

When the victims did report the abuse to the authorities, nothing happened in 52.9% of the cases, and abusers were arrested in only 9.8% of the cases.


In the case of this young woman with Down syndrome, I truly applaud her and her family/caregivers for speaking out. 

But to what end?  No wonder so few do.

And, back to my original question, How does a rape victim behave?, whose right is it to decide, to determine, to judge?  Who can know how any one person may behave in the face of severe physical and emotional trauma?  Who can push aside all of the obvious physical evidence in this case and judge this young woman who has been through hell and back, who has endured the unthinkable?


Sign this petition, and read the report referenced above, folks.  Arm yourselves with knowledge, and read past the devastating numbers to the tips and guidance found there to help you and your family members/friends/loved ones with disabilities prevent this kind of thing from happening with such alarming frequency. 

Knowledge is power. 


Anna Theurer said...

Unbelievable! So my question is. . . just how is one supposed to behave after rape? Is there a manual somewhere? WTF?! This is one of my biggest fears--Ellie getting abused and her being unable to tell me. Petitioned signed and forwarded

Mardra said...

One piece of good news is that last week the DA told me that the judge has "stepped down" form this case. So he will *not* be the same judge on the retrial - if they still go to trial again.

Jawanda Mast said...

Good Blog. I wrote a blog a few years ago in response to an episode of Law & Order. The judge in the case set aside the conviction of the gang rape of a young woman with intellectual disability. They called it MR in the 20 year old episode. The judge in the current real life case apparently watches L&O. This episode bothered me before I had Rachel but it haunts me now that I have Rachel. Not so much because of the ridiculous judge but because I know Rachel sees the world in black and white. Unfortunately, I know that there are people who may seem like good folks on the surface who will prey on her in the halls of the high school or her job at the movie theater or wherever. So I pray. What else is there? Good blog, Rebecca.

Rochelle said...

Ugh, thanks for blogging this.

wendy said...

Unbelievable! This is such a worry. I didn't know there is specifics on how one is supposed to act!

Sylvia said...

That's insane! I signed the petition. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

tekeal said...

oh i have to coach myself to keep breathing as i read this... was just talking last night about how to continue supporting livia with protecting herself.
thank you for your your continued support in educating about this hard subject.

do you know of any good children's books on this subject for kids with ID? i signed and forwarded.

take care

Stephanie said...

Seriously scary statistics. Terrible that so many offences go unreported. When I read about this case I thought about how hard it must be on the young woman who has to now go through yet ANOTHER trial. Women who don't have a disability suffer from the kind of scrutiny that is inflicted at those things... Would hate to have to watch my own child be questioned like that. Especially twice! Thanks for posting on such a difficult topic and finding a way to help others in the face of such tragedy.