Rape: A Social Problem
Soc 203: Social Problems
July 23, 2011
Rape is a part of society. Rape is and always will be a social problem. Sexual assault is defined as a sexual act performed without consent, the violation of one person by another. Rather than an act of sexual gratification, rape is an angry and violent expression of the rapist’s desire to dominate someone else (Ledray, 1986, pg. 1-2). Rape not only affects the victim, it also affects family, friends and associates. It was not long ago that rape was not recognized as a real problem. Today, however, society is conscious of this fact: that an individual has the right to choose when to consent to sexual acts. Rape victims can turn the outrage of assault into an opportunity for recovery, change and growth. While statistics show that the majority of rape victims are women, men also experience this trauma. The issue of sexual assault has many different myths and beliefs circulating around it. We as a society need to understand sexual assault and the trauma it causes to victims so we can begin prevention of this crime.
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Each year there are about 213,000 victims of sexual assault, sixty percent of which are not reported to law enforcement. Fifteen of sixteen rapists will never spend a day in jail (RAINN, 2011). Statistics show that fewer than forty percent of sexual assault victims report to law enforcement. Going to make a police report can be challenging because eighty to eighty-five percent of reported rape cases are perpetrated by someone the victim knows (Mtryrapecrisis.org, 2011).
Once a rape or sexual assault is reported, law enforcement may ask of the victim to undergo a medical forensic exam to collect further evidence. The exam can be invasive and re-traumatizing for victims, but it is the victim’s choice to participate in the exam. Now, some rape victims are unwilling to report the crime to the police and that is their right to do so. In California, as of July 1, 2011, rape victims who do not want to make a report can still undergo the same medical forensic exam to collect evidence and have it saved in case they do decide to report at a later time (Mtryrapecrisis.org, 2011). This allows rape victims the ability to have power over their life choices in a time when they may feel powerless. It also allows the victim to not report at that time, but not suffer from regret later on if they do decide to go to law enforcement.
Victims of sexual assault suffer a profound emotional injury. They may feel powerless by physical force, threats or fear after being subjected to sexual acts, including vaginal or anal penetration, oral copulation or penetration with a foreign object. Sometimes, the victim is left completely and utterly alone to deal with this trauma.
Rape is an intrusion to the most intimate and private parts of the body, as well as an assault of one’s self. Whether or not the victim suffers any physical trauma, the psychological impact is severe and long-lasting. Victims who outwardly appear to have recovered from rape often feel an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and vulnerability that can unexpectedly be re-experienced. Basic beliefs about the environment, people and even the self are shattered. These losses are devastating. Many survivors also say that the incident alters their lives.
The rapist takes away something that the victims can never recover. One perspective to take into consideration is the underlying meaning that the assault has for the victim. The threats and profound losses the victim suffers changes their lives dramatically. Another perspective is the anguish it causes the victim. Fear is a major emotion that lasts from the rape. When a person is raped, they must deal with a multitude of fears, such as: fear of death, of seeing the rapist again, of similar environments. The victim may also...
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