The number of rapes that occur in America each year is astounding, one every two minutes, and those are only the crimes that are being reported. It is a widely known fact that 54% of rape victims will never go to the police out of fear of retaliation or humiliation and 97% of those convicted of rape will never see a day in jail. RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. What is even worse, 44% of these women are under the age of 18 and that 82% of these girls knew their rapist (neighbor, relative, etc). Young girls age 12-17 are most at risk with odds being two to three times higher than that of older girls/women. http://www.911rape.org This is the true account of one terrible night for a very brave young girl that we will call “Julie”.
At the age of 17, Julie had just graduated from high school and was looking forward to attending college in the fall. She had only dated a couple of guys before meeting someone she thought she could trust. They dated for a couple of months into the summer when he told Julie that for her birthday, he was planning a party for her at a friend’s home. It was exciting for Julie to have someone treat her so well and to take the time to plan a party just for her. With numerous people coming, she also thought it would be safe enough that she didn’t have to worry.
The night of the party, Julie was picked up by her date and they drove to the house where the party had already started. There were a few people over the age 21 there and so plenty of alcohol was being consumed. When asked what she wanted to drink, Julie chose strawberry daiquiris for the small of liquor in the drink and they were yummy. After all, her parents were nowhere around and it was her birthday party, she didn’t want to look like a baby. What Julie didn’t know was that her date and his friends had made arrangements to get her drunk that night by adding a lot more alcohol to her drinks and playing drinking games so she would have to drink very fast. Before she knew what was happening, Julie found herself on the couch without the ability to get up and walk alone. It was then that her date decided they needed to leave so he could take her back to his house to sleep it off. He picked her up and carried her out to his car.
It was then, Julie says, that the guy she trusted and cared about removed her clothes and put her in his bed. “I remember everything that went on” Julie sighs. “I tried to fight him off and pleaded with him to stop but my arms felt like they weighed 100 pounds and my voice was little more than a whisper. There was nothing I could do to get him off of me.” Afterwards, the guy told her that he had done this for her that he knew she was scared about having sex for the first time so he helped her out with that problem. He admitted he had helped a previous girlfriend with the same thing but claimed they were still friends and that she had thanked him. “I was dumbstruck. I mean, how could he just do that to me and be so casual about it? I didn’t cry, I didn’t move, I just laid there wishing I was home in my own bed.”
Now two years later, Julie never reported her boyfriend to the police and never told her parents what had happened. Like so many other younger girls, she wanted to forget it happened and move on without reliving that night over and over. She hadn’t counted on all the effects that a rape has on a person. “I couldn’t be held to tightly by a guy or I would feel like I had to run or fight with him and if I laid next to someone and they touched me with a foot or anything, I would jump like I was being attacked. It still happens now, that fight or flight feeling.” Eventually Julie did go and see a counselor and is currently working to overcome some of her underlying fears about men. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight but she will get past this although she will live with this in the back of her mind for the rest of her life.
In America, the number of women being raped is out-of-control and those who are attacking these girls can be their uncle, babysitter, teacher or boyfriend. It isn’t always a stranger lurking in the bushes as is usually portrayed in the movies. There needs to be serious reformation of the rape laws in this country before women are going to feel better about reporting these crimes to authorities. If your rapist will never sit in jail for his crime, then the fear of retaliation is justified and coming forward must seem pointless. The sheer humiliation of enduring a hospital exam while being interrogated by law enforcement and doctors while trying to explain things to parents and loved ones is hard enough but then to watch your assailant walk away has to be unimaginable. Prevention starts at home with parents openly discussing the dangers of rape and possible situations that kids need to avoid with all their early teens. Remind your child of what is appropriate behavior by those close to them and encourage them to tell you about any incidents that they feel uncomfortable about. For more information and other helpful services, go to the websites listed above and contact them with any questions. It is only with knowledge that we can help prevent some of these unspeakable crimes.