We Must Stop Ignoring the most Crucial Rape Statistic

Trigger warning: rape/sexual assault

Approximately 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year. And while discussion of rape and rape culture has grown in the media recently there’s something we’re still not talking about.

British Crime Survey figures show that 90% of rape victims know the identity of their attacker and over half are assaulted by a partner or ex-partner. So why are we spending so much time creating devices designed to help keep women safe from strangers outside of the home?

Things like the underwear that can’t be ripped or cut and rape alarms feed into one of the biggest myths about rape, that it only happens down dark alleyways and in empty car parks by strangers at midnight. 
No. Women are raped in their homes, workplaces, gyms. Places where you wouldn’t necessarily be ‘on guard’ and certainly not wearing your anti rape underwear or having your keys sticking through your fists like Wolverine.

Only around 10% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’. Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved. People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they have previously felt safe. Rapists can be friends, colleagues, clients, neighbours, family members, partners or exes. Risk of rape shouldn’t be used as an excuse to control women’s movements and restrict their rights and freedom. — rapecrisis.org.

90% is a statistic most people like to overlook and I can’t say I blame them, it’s a horrific statistic. I’m not writing this to scare anyone but this is information that is routinely ignored which I believe has a direct impact.

Knowing your attacker can delay the assault being reported, if it’s reported at all. Rape Crisis reports that around only 15% of those who experience sexual violence file a report with the police.

If you’re attacked by someone you know, it’s common to feel confused about whether or not it was rape. It can feel embarrassing to acknowledge that your good friend has assaulted you. You question everything and that’s not even taking into account the psychological effects of rape which include, flashbacks, depression, fear of pregnancy and STI’s etc

When a woman knows her attacker, this information is used to muddy the waters if the attacker is arrested and brought to court. Defence lawyers in these cases are more than willing to discredit you and put your sexual history under the microscope. We’ve seen it time and time again in the media. Most recently with a judge (Justice Robin Camp) who asked a sexual assault victim why she could not “just keep her knees together” and later told the victim “pain and sex sometimes go together”.

In 2015 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed sex crimes had rocketed by 41% in the last year, this is why sustained funding for support for sexual assault victims is crucial.

Earlier this year the government announced new funding for victims of sexual assault — Over £550,000. 
Funding provides vital services including training staff to assist victims, boosting rape support centres, and establishing a helpline for victims of sexual abuse.

So, what can we do, armed with this information?

We must stop ignoring the 90%.
We need to talk about consent, what rape is and we need to start teaching men about it as early as possible.

Men grow up with an entitlement to women’s bodies and it starts in the playground. You know, the pulling pigtails and calling girls names, which is always passed off as acceptable behaviour “ it just means he likes you” NO. NO NO NO. None of this ‘boys will be boys’ bullshit.

Rapists don’t tend to think of themselves as rapists. They’ll say just about anything to justify their behaviour using any excuse..she was flirting with me, we’d had sex before, they way she dressed, asking for it.

Too many young men who are accused of rape don’t seem to fully understand that what they’re doing IS rape, it IS assault. Consent is key, conversation and education are important. Sex education in schools and parents have the greatest responsibility when it comes to educating kids about consent. Sex education needs to be an ongoing conversation, not just a few classes at age 11, not just one conversation about the birds and the bees.
It needs to move along with the students, and address the different aspects to sexual maturity.

We cannot afford to ignore the 90% any longer.

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