Reclaim the night march

went to this tonight. For those who haven’t heard of it it’s a march to end violence against women. Anyway let’s just say that about 90% of those there were feminists, unfortuantly feminists scare me a bit… and I felt that I did not deserve to be there as I am not a strong emowered women, I am a weak and broken woman. So ye… not feeling great, however, I did discover an organisation while I was there called “object” which is an organisation set up to challenge the sexual objectification of women, I have now joined said organisation 🙂

After the march there were a load of speakers, which I stayed for. Then I had to try to get home… but it was dark, and there waa a bit of a walk outside to get to the tube station… so I ended up standing in the lobby for about half an hour panicing and trying to prepare myself. I must have looked like such an idiot/ There were all these amazing and strong women and then there was me – cowering in a corner *sighs*

But anyway, let’s say something about the event itself.

 

Thousands of women from all over the UK and the rest of Europe will be travelling to London to attend the 7th Reclaim the Night march on Saturday 27th November 2010. Be one of them!

Reclaim the nights website

 

In the summer a U.K. study revieled that a significant number of people thought that rape victims were at least partially to blame for their attacks. The various reasons that respondents blamed women for were the unsurprising — if she had been drinking, if she had worn something revealing, if she had engaged in some other kind of sexual contact with the rapist, etc. — but no less disturbing than they’ve always been.

In Britain, it is estimated that one in two women will experience domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking during their lifetime, and rape convictions are at an all-time low – just 5.6% of all reported rapes end in a conviction. Every week, two women die at the hands of a former or current partner and new cases of child sexual abuse are reported weekly.

I told someone about this event last week, and they said it was “stupid”, that being able to walk the streets at night was not a right, that people should be sensible and take precausions if they are going somewhere that could be dangerous. A few problems there… number 1: After I escaped from my abusers I carried a knife for a long time as I feared that they would come after me (which insidently they did), but this resulted in me being arrested. Secondly, why is it that the potential victims are being punished by having to be constantly on edge or even by not going out at all, whereas the would be attackers are free to go and do whatever they like?

 

And now some pictures from shadow light photography of the event:

 

My Truth

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I’m very passionate about mental health and abuse awareness, mainly due to my own expieriances. I am very open about my past, which I know is something that many do not like, but I do not see why I should stay silent – afterall that’s what the abusers told me to do and I can’t let them win can I?

I don’t want nor do I expect pity or sympathy. I do not deserve it, and I do not want it, what happened happened and I am only who I am today because of it. I do not want hugs and people saying they are sorry, what I want, what I fight for every day, is for OTHERS to feel safe that they will not be judged. What I want is to make it so that those who currently suffer in silence scared of what may happen if they open up know that they are not alone, and maybe make it so that they no longer have to fear judgement and blame.

I know that my work and my speaking out will not end abuse, discrimination and suffering, but if I can just let people know that they are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence and maybe if I can make a few people stop and think then I am happy with that. I cannot stop abuse, I cannot change the world, but maybe I can help to plant the seeds of change, plant that idea in to the minds of others, and then they can help that idea to grow until one day change can and does occur. Maybe one day the things which I fight will no longer exist, but I doubt that I will see that day. I can do so little, but it’s the best I can do, I just have to hope that human nature is not as bad as I fear and that these seeds if change and the glimmer of hope will take root.

I tell my story, my truth, not for pity, but for the hope that I can help to ignite change in this world. I know most will not believe this, but I know my truth and I hope that a few of you know this truth too. This is why I spend so long creating websites, writting letters, speaking in schools, raising money and trying to spread awareness. It’s an inconvenient truth I know, but it’s a truth that needs to be known, I cannot just sweep it under the carpet when I know that it could help others. So I fight and strive with the hope of helping, of making the suffering of others that little bit better that bit more bearable.  I wish that this truth was not there, that it did not need to be spread, but it is and it does. And for this I am sorry

This is my truth

Facts of rape – marital/spouse/partner rape

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Did you know that marital Rape was only made a criminal act in the UK in 1991? Up until then it was considered impossible for a man to rape or sexually assault his wife. To quote:
“A husband cannot rape his wife unless the parties are seperated or the court has by injunction forbidden him to interfere with his wife or he has given an undertaking in court no to interfere with her.” (The Law Made Simple, The Chaucer Press, 1981)

Marriage is a contract based on mutual love, consideration and respect. Both partners have a right to their own body, and while consideration for each person’s sexual needs is normal, forced sexual acts are not. They aren’t an expression of love. They are a purposeful betrayal of the respect and trust which form a solid marriage.

Sexual abuse within marriage leaves the victim very confused. We all accept that when someone is attacked and sexually assualted by a stranger while out on the street, it is called rape, and that it is wrong and a crime But, often when a man rapes his wife it is not seen by either as a crime, or even described as rape.

Many women accept that once they are married they can’t deny their husband sex. They see it as a wifely duty to have sex whenever it is demanded. When they have been raped they take on the guilt because they may have said no, and they think thats a sign of a bad wife. It can make them feel very worthless and diminsh their levels of self confidence.

If no violence has taken place the man will often see it as consensual, as a joint decision. He denies it was rape. This adds to the confusion of the woman who starts to question the reality of what happened.

Rape is rape, regardless of the relationship between the rapist and the victim. It can be a total stranger; someone you recognise by sight, but have never really communicated with; someone you know superficially, a neighbour or a colleague; a friend, a boy-friend or a former boyfriend; a live-in partner, or a former partner; someone you are married to or have been married to in the past.

Rape is a very personal and intimate traumatic experience. Our experiences of and reactions to rape may differ widely, and although there are many similarities in the way that we feel about being the victim of rape, regardless of the relationship between us and the rapist, there are differences between stranger and intimate/acquaintance rape, and in this section I am trying to describe and offer an understanding of some of the specific problems regarding marital rape (or rape by an acuaintance) as opposed to stranger rape.

Facts of rape – Gang-Rape, what is it and why’s it happen

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We think of rape as an individual not a group act. It is difficult to grasp its social dimention. We assume that, like sex, it takes place in private. It is difficult enough to face the idea of rape. To envisage gang rape is even harder, it is easier to ignore the distinction, to class it all as rape. Yet the historical origins of rape rest with the gang. The Latin word from which rape derives mean “to seize or carry off”. In ancient times, warring tribes abducted women, who then became the spoils of war.

It is generally believed for men who engage in gang rape to be pathological bullies, fiends or maniacs, and that gang rape is far less common that individual rape. The findings of research refute these assumptions. One of the first American researchers to analyse the characteristics of men reported to the police for rape in Philadelphia found that 43% of the 1292 men operated in pairs of gangs (Amir 1971). 55% raped in gangs and 16% in pairs. Contrary to prior research this study also revealed that 71% of these rapes were planned, rather than being the spontaneous explosion of pent up emotions. Other studies, since this, have supported this finding that gang rapes are more common than previously thought. In one study it was found that 10% of students had attempted rape in episodes involving more than one attacker (Warsaw, 1988).

Gang or pair rape, rather than being pathological, appears to be more about an extreme form of normative masculinity. It is in all-male communities such as the army, adolescent gangs, prison, college fraternities in America and competitive team ports that gang rae generally occurs. In war, gang rape takes on an added dimension and can be an integral tactic of warfare. Whether in peace or war, its function is to enhance male solidarity and domination. It appears to involve a process by which men distance themselves from everything denoting femininity. Women, homosexuals or those seen to be un-macho are the targets. The sexual orientation of many men who rape men and the victims who are raped, contrary to common belief, is heterosexual rather than homosexual (McMullen, 1990).

Humiliating and defiling women seems to enhance male cohesion is some siturations, a point made by Susan Brownmiller (1978), who also argues that male domination is strengthened by denigration and contempt for women. An Australian professor who studied gang rapes suggested that the reason that the gang defiled the female body in other appalling ways, often excretory, was in order to gain or maintain prestige within the group by over-emphasising the values of toughness and disregard for femininity other than as a sexual tool (Brownmuller, 1978)

The enhancement of male solidarity through such violence does raise the question f what constitutes and enhances male-bonding. A number of studies have indicated the mens friendships are generally less personal than womans (Rubin, 1983). Intimacy, the sharing of innermost thoughts and emotions, the main characteristic of female friendship, is not typical of male groups, where bonding is enhanced by posturing, competitiveness, toughness, jokes and risk-taking (Rotundo, 1989). Since one area of competitiveness is sexual, where to “score” is a way to impress friends, this inevitably involves exploiting women. Emphasis on “scoring” and objectifying women are forms of enhancing male power. Through rape, therefore, men can experience ppower, and avoid tenderness and intimacy, which often involve conflict for these men.

Generally men who partake in gang-rape are those who are brought up to believe that to be a man is to be hard and tough, and to keep emotional involvement at bay.

Facts of rape – who are the victims

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The BCS estimates that 4.9% of women have been raped at least once since age 16 and that 9.7% of women have suffered some form of sexual victimisation since that age.

The 2000 BCS estimates that 0.9% of women suffered some form of sexual victimisation during the last year and that 0.4% of women suffered rape.

The 2000 BCS estimates that there are approximately 754,000 females aged 16 to 59 in England and Wales who have been the victim of rape once or more since the age of 16. This includes approximately 61,000 victimised in 1999 alone.

This graph presents the best estimates of the number of female rape victims. Since estimates are based on a sample of the population, they are subject to sampling error. This means the estimates may not exactly represent the true number of victims in the population. The first table shows the best estimates and the range within which there is a 95% chance that the true figures lie. For example, there is a 95% chance that the true number of ‘since age 16’ female rape victims lies between 660,000 and 849,000.

So who are the victims and who is at risk?

Here I hope to cover how socio-demographic factors influence the risk of being a victim of sexual offences, based on incidents of victimisation from 1999 and 2000.

AGE

Age is the biggest risk factor for being a victim of a sexual offence. Young women aged 16 to 19 are most likely to be victimised. Women aged 20 to 24 have an almost equally high risk of experiencing some form of sexual victimisation. With regard to rape, 16 to 19-yearold women were over four times as likely to have reported being raped in the last year than women from any other age group. The risks for these younger women are statistically significant

This finding is in line with those from most other surveys on violence against women. The significantly higher risks revealed for younger women are likely be ‘real’, reflecting the lifestyles and circumstances of younger women. It may also be possible that levels of sexual activity have changed over the years. If young people are becoming sexually active earlier and having more sexual partners, this could have an effect on levels of victimisation. A related point is that the key characteristics could be those of men, rather than women – young women are more likely to socialise and be around young men aged under 25, who are more likely to be the perpetrators of crime than any other group.

INCOME

Risks were highest for women from households with low levels of income. For instance, women from households with an income of less than £10,000 per year were more than three times as likely to have reported being raped than women from households with an income of more than £20,000 a year

For any incident of sexual victimisation, women from lowest income households were also more likely to report being victimised than women from the most affluent households. The risks for any sexual victimisation (which includes rape) were statistically significant – but the differences were not as marked as for rape. Young women were not disproportionately represented in the lowest income bracket. Indeed, this is a pattern of victimisation replicated for crime more generally: the 2001 British Crime Survey also suggests people from low income households are more likely to be the victim of a violent offence, or a burglary

MARITAL STATUS

Women who were either married or cohabiting are the least likely to report being sexually victimised in the last year. For any incident of sexual victimisation, risks were highest for single women. For rape, risks were highest for divorcees. The risk of suffering any sexual victimisation for single women reflects the same pattern as the risks for young women – the vast majority of single women reporting sexual victimisation are from the 16 to 24 age group. The risk of suffering any sexual victimisation and of suffering rape was identical for women who were separated.

Although divorcees reflected much higher last year prevalence risks than women who were married or cohabiting, further analysis revealed that around a half of these women were victimised by a partner or ex-partner. It is possible that sexual victimisation may be a contributory factor in the break-up of some abusive relationships.

EMPLOYMENT STATUS

Students are more likely to report an incident of sexual victimisation than any other occupational group. However, in terms of rape, students were the least likely to have reported an inciden. Although the risk of suffering any sexual victimisation was statistically significant for students, the risks in relation to rape were not significant for any occupational group

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