Digital Press-Gang
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       Oct/Nov 2020    RAPE part1.  Broadcast on TOR-Radio  Read by JBL....
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You have left home and are living in your own place. It is very precious to you and you take pride 
in the fact you have been bale to afford to create a home for yourself, with your own bills and most 
importantly your own front door key.

As you walk towards home, you begin to work out what you fancy to eat, is it a take-away? Is it something
from the fridge and as you absent-mindedly put the key in the door, the door swings open. There is that
split second of total disorientation as you rapidly search through your memory bank and check, you did
lock the door, didn't you?

That stomach churning feeling of dread, fear and expectation fills your head as you push the door open
and go inside. You look around checking there is no-one there, putting on lights, checking, looking, 
you realise, everything has been rifled through. Whoever was there, has gone through everything from 
your underwear to the bed. You check and anything you valued has gone, taken. Youíll never see that again.

Lying there in the dark, or have you left the light on, you hear a noise. Terrified and yet electrified 
you freeze, you have to look, to check and the fear grows. Some people end up moving home, they cannot 
stay in that place any longer. like a prison sentence, they live in that twilight zone of daring not 
to trust, daring not to feel secure.

If youíve ever experienced this, it is an awful feeling and being on your own only heightens the whole 
experience.

Now letís change the scenario.

You are walking along pre-occupied in thoughts of dinner, will it be take away will you cook, or youíre
in the office at the end of the day packing up and getting ready to leave. You could be off to a social
event, or even returning, wherever you are, your thoughts are on the mundane. 

Before you realise it, someone is grabbing you and has you pinned into place where you cannot move and
they are fumbling around in your underwear. Before you realise its gone to the next level and you are
enduring the unwelcome intrusion of a penis, a hand or a foreign object shoved deep inside you. Lost in
their own sexual fantasies you are nothing but the pawn in their little game of horrors. Your heart stops,
your voice freezes as do you. Staring with abject fear, like a rabbit in the headlights, you pray you 
are going to get out of this alive.

Unlike the violation of our home by an intruder, the violation of your body is so personal it never 
leaves you. This is the one thing you can never walk away from, the act stays in your dreams and enacts 
itself over and over again.

Now letís change that scenario a tad further; you are an adolescent. You are alone in your bedroom and
you hear the tell tale noises from downstairs or from a different part of the house. The door to your 
room opens and your nightmare walks through the door. Heís doing it because he wants to show you he 
loves you, because he can control you, or heís got drunk again and really enjoys shagging you. You are
told to stay quiet and he rapes you. 

In the book, The Kite Runner there is an excellent passage;
    I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. 
    I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley 
    near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but itís wrong what they say about the past, 
    Iíve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, 
    I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.

I have worked with many women and children who have had these experiences and one of the first things I 
have to get them to understand is it wasnít their fault. They blame themselves and live in that self 
loathing which blights their relationships with their subsequent partners, their own children, their 
families and everyone they come into contact with. Trust is a major issue, as are the nightmares, the 
fear it will happen again, and the total hatred/revulsion of themselves. They decide they are bad people,
they often develop depression, anxiety, suffer from flashbacks, PTSD and when things get very black, 
suicide.

One woman I worked with became domineering in the bedroom as it was the only way she could remain in 
control, she was so scared it would happen again. She really wanted to be held, to be loved and taken
care of and she desperately wanted passion in her life but didnít trust anyone enough to relax and let go.
She became more and more destructive of anything good around her and she was verging on suicide when I 
met her.

A 14 year old girl I knew had been sexually assaulted by her uncle and found out she was pregnant. She 
came to me, she was beside herself. She felt cheap, nasty, guilty, worthless and terrified all at once. 
What made it worse for her was the fear of her motherís response when she was told it was her brother 
who was the father of this child. She broke down and blurted out this would be the end of her ambitions. 
She was working hard to be the first one in the family to go to university. She wanted them to be proud 
of her and was scared out of her mind she would be deemed a slut and rejected. She was a very bright young
lady and in those early exchanges I saw this potential future evaporate before her eyes. U cannot say 
either case indicated here had totally happy endings. Life isnít like a fairy tale, there is rarely 
happy ever after.

The statistics for rape in the UK have increased markedly since 2016/17 when reported cases tended to hover
around 16,000 cases a year. Of that 16,000 less than 10 percent would reach any for of prosecution. That
represents 1600 cases reaching any form of paperwork, the remainder fell through the net of insufficient
evidence.

Latest figures from the UK.GOV website indicate over 54,000 reported cases in 2017/18. The reason, they
suggested, is because women are more likely to report rape than they had in the past. Why? because 
strategies of support and ease of reporting in a safer environment have been put in place to support the 
rape victim. The victim is now seen by specially trained female officers and the victim is now treated 
with compassion and consideration. 

Conviction rates are still very low however, urban myths around the subject are known to cloud the general
publicís concept of the victim and the perpetrator and as a consequence all too many of these men walk free. 
A slap on the wrist and out they go to perhaps go ahead and do it again, bragging to their mates down the 
pub how theyíd shagged her and got away with it. ďHer word against mine werenít it?  As they raise their 
pint to their lips somewhere there is a woman feeling as if she has been reduced to the scrap heap of life.

At a recent rally against rape, women gathered to express their exhaustion at having to cope with these 
myths. One banner held aloft proclaimed

    What I wear is my choice and is not an open invitation to rape.

In America only 9 Percent of rapists get prosecuted. Out of that 9  Percent, only 3 Percent of them will
spend a day in prison, allowing the other 97 Percent of them to go free. Taking the UK's latest figures this
would equate to the following: 

Out of 54 000 reported cases, 4 860 would be prosecuted. From that 4,860, only 149 would spend a day in jail, 
leaving the remaining 53,851 original cases to walk free. 

What sort of message are we sending to the men who commit this crime? What are we sending to the women who
have to now live with the aftermath?

Further to this we have to also take into account, like most crimes where shame is involved, only a small
percentage ever get reported. Rape is very much like an iceberg, what you see in terms of cases is but a 
small part of the whole berg.

In some countries it is seen as open season with lower caste women being raped by higher caste men, as if 
it is their right. In places where HIV/Aids is prevalent, girls as young as 5 or 6 are bought from their 
families to go into prostitution. They are seen as a good investment by their pimps as they will be free 
of HIV until of course they are assaulted by a man who has it already.  What happens then? She is spoiled 
goods and of no value. She cannot return home, cannot marry and has one option, begging.

As Kurt Cobain said when asked in an interview about the subject,

    Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem
    with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves.
    What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.

We have to accept women are not the only rape victims. Statistics tell us 1 in every 5 women will experience
some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. For men it is now 1 in every 25.

Question: 
    is this a growing epidemic or has the true scale of it gone unnoticed for all these years, 
    being swept under the uncomfortable carpet.

How many of you have read the book, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. 
Emilie, is sitting in a waiting room filling out a form.  Addicted to drugs she has been picked up again
and is now sitting on a torn and damaged diner style chair in the middle of the room, well out of the way
of the corner sofas, which as she says are dangerous areas to become trapped in.  We listen in on what she
is writing and you can hear how she weighs one potential problem against another, all to stay safe;

    I can explain myself, Emilie said: If you want to be safe, walk in the middle of the street. 
    Iím not joking. Youíve been told to look both ways before crossing the street, and the side-walk
    is your friend, right? Wrong. Iíve spent years walking side-walks at night. Iíve looked around me
    when it was dark, when there were men following me, creeping out of alleyways, attempting to goad
    me into speaking to them and shouting obscenities at me when I wouldnít, and I suddenly realised
    that the only place left to go was the middle of street. But why would I risk it? Because the odds
    are in my favour. In the States, someone is killed in a car accident on average every 12.5 minutes,
    while someone is raped on average every 2.5 minutes. 
    Even when factoring in that, 
    1. I am generously including ALL car-related accidents, and 
    2. that the vast majorities of rapes still go unreported
    this is now the way I live my life: out in the open, in the middle of everything, because the middle
    of the street is actually the safest place to walk.

Many women are left in this no-manís land, trying to find ways of coping; common ones are self harming, 
bouts of depression, anxiety attacks, or dealing with their symptoms through self medication, prescription
drugs. Depending upon the furosity of the attack these women can be haunted so much they end up taking 
overdoses. Their need to escape the nightmare runs the perpetual narrative within their minds which often 
outstrips the one for life and self preservation.

So what can we do about it? One way is to challenge these urban myths which legitimise the behaviour of 
rapists and instead of teaching women and girls to concentrate on staying safe, allow them to flourish as 
the human beings they are, equal, powerful and the bringers of new life.

So for now, I will leave you with one final contemplation; 
What myths do you think stigmatise women who get raped, placing the blame with them?
What excuses can you think of which makes it OK to rape men?
Would you expect to hear more compassion coming from other women? 
What sort of ladís talk do you think encourages these behaviours?
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Next time I want to further peruse the myths and the language often associated with sexual references to
women in general and some in particular.

If you have suffered rape or have been attacked sexually may I suggest reaching out to Rape Crisis or 
somewhere similar. Donít bury it inside, and thinking it will go away, you are worth so much more than that.
Yes, it is embarrassing, no they wonít laugh at you, no it doesnít matter when it happened, yes, you will 
get all the help you need and no, this isnít a family matter, this is something very personal to you, and 
you will be treated with anonymity if thatís what you want and with all the respect you deserve.

But for now this is me, signing off and wishing you a safe and peaceful good night.

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       Written By JBL.  For broadcast by   TOR Radio   2020.
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