TO BE OR NOT TO BE (IDENTIFIED, THAT IS)

It is common to read a news story or see reportage on TV about a sexual assault or even a series of them. Invariably somewhere within the story will appear the disclaimer ” Our policy is to not identify the victims of sexual assault.” That disclaimer is also given in cases of sexual abuse, especially on crimes against children.

But I wonder if, instead, honesty would be the best policy. After all, usually a robbery or murder victim’s name will routinely be public. If that murder victim was also raped, that fact is usually included in public reports.

It is generally asserted, and perhaps acknowledged without argument, that far more sexual assaults go unreported than become the subject of police investigations. And even these investigations seldom lead to arrest and conviction. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

The statistics according to RAINN, The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, are 54% unreported. Other organizations or studies have pegged that number even higher.

Add in the matter of false rape reports which are generally determined to be a very small percentage. 

As an aside, for a look at how one blogger views these matters see this: http://www.angryharry.com/esRapeBaloney.htm Whoever this “Angry Harry” is he claims that

The evidence that I have seen shows that most allegations of rape made to the police are false. 

The ‘research’ that purports to show otherwise is mostly bogus.

Note that nowhere does he cite his evidence or identify the bogus research. The guy is crackers!

My theory is that by automatically not identifying victims of sex crimes, at least adult victims, a patina of shame is placed upon them as though they did something wrong. (Oh my goodness, they had sex with someone they weren’t married or commited to!)

Too, most reports of rape are not very detailed to the public, so it is easy to view it as an act, even though forced, that was merely a regular sex act and could not have been that traumatic. Truth be told from the anecdotal evidence I have been exposed to, more often that not the rape is not simply a “wham bam, thank you ma’am” experience but subjects the victim to humiliating, tortuous behavior, leaving them not only torn and bruised but dehumanized as well.

Of course there is no reticence in identifying such victims if they also have been murdered, the implication being that these, obviously, are “real rapes”.

So it is little wonder that, if the statistics bear out, far fewer rapes are reported than occur. The assumption, explicit or not, that the victim has shame is a factor in them saying, “What the hell, I don’t want to go through this and put myself open to public scorn.”

Likewise, even in the rare case of a false accusation, the “non”victim remains anonymous unless the false charge is egregious enough that she herself is charged for false reporting.

Now, mind you, I cannot say with assurance that my theory is correct. However, I have read of or viewed documentaries of stories of rape where the survivors willingly were identified. My impression is that they used this to empower themselves…to publicly declare that their brutalizer did not retain his violent mastery over them and that they had the strength to go forth.

Would any female readers like to share their opinions?  Maybe this is too sensitive a topic for some as there is some likelihood that they have been victimized.

I don’t purport to know the ultimate answer here. Unfortunately rape is a crime far too common. It can devastate a victim’s life. But if my theory holds, far more of the violent misanthropes who commit these heinous acts will be behind bars where they belong.

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Comments

  • Anonymous  On April 17, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    (Note that this is a different anonymous…UMOC)

    Hi UMOC.

    My sense of things is that our society in general is developing a much greater awareness of the nature of the crime. I like to believe that most people are fair, and rational, and that once those who haven’t been sexually assaulted or coerced into unwanted sexual activity with a person by virtue of the miscreant’s authority, threat of bodily harm, or other means of intimidation realize that rape involves a victim, it will be more likely that no stigma is attached to the victim.

    Once that happens, i.e., the understanding that a sexual assault does not involve any willful or intentional activity on the victim’s part, I believe that the likelihood of harm to the victim’s reputation will diminish, or simply become negligible.

    That being the case, with continued efforts to report on sexual assaults, and explicitly portray such as what they are, a violent crime against a person and that person’s autonomy , treating the the identification of the victims the same as any other crime will become the norm.

    In fact, I’m thinking that reporting alleged rape victim’s names will discourage those rare cases where the charge is unfounded.

    (I only want to add that if a reporter or the media *chooses* not to divulge the victim of a rape that is entirely within their rights.)

    thescarletpumpernickel

    • Little_Minx  On April 17, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      *Waving “hello” to Scarlet* 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Little_Minx  On April 17, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    You know the old joke about the Yinzer custom of excising the infinitive “to be” in expressions such as “It needs [ ] fixed” — so that Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in Yinzer-speak is simply:

    “or not” 😉

    • umoc193  On April 18, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      “You know the old joke about the Yinzer custom of excising the infinitive “to be” in expressions such as “It needs [ ] fixed” — so that Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in Yinzer-speak is simply:

      “or not”

      First time I’ve heard it. But I’ll remember it!

  • Little_Minx  On April 17, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    On a grim note, UMOC, what do you think of the media identifying the third fatality in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, after her family explicitly requested that she not be named? What’s US law on such a matter?

    • Little_Minx  On April 17, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      I.e., …”the media PUBLICLY identifying…”

    • umoc193  On April 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      “On a grim note, UMOC, what do you think of the media identifying the third fatality in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, after her family explicitly requested that she not be named? What’s US law on such a matter?”

      I know of nothing that would make such information illegal to reveal. It may be a violation of the policy of the agency/office who provided the name to the media, but that would simply be subject to a reprimand, not anything else.

      After all, it is the media that usually chooses not to identify rape victims though many exceptions have been made. The Kobe Bryant case comes immediately to mind.

  • Richard Wood  On April 18, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    Hi Minx!

  • Richard Wood  On April 18, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    That’s a good question (identification of the victim at Boston), Minx.

    There seems to be some “qualitative difference” in the case that you described,although it’s too early in the morning for me to think it through (yawn).

Please give me your thoughts.

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