Abolition ended slavery but failed to end the tragedy of bigotry against an entire portion of the world population. The ironic concept that because of the color of a person’s skin, they are “less than” and therefore, not entitled to dignity and respect, remains a hideous part of our society today, in the 21st century. Continue reading CAN Stands with Black Lives Matter→
To people who understand the meaning of consent, it seems that last night, the police at the Midtown North Precinct in Manhattan, lead by Commanding Officer Peter J. Venice, aided and abetted a sex criminal.
The victim, I’ll call her Jennifer, read her complaint from a prepared statement because she was nervous and upset. The female desk officer, Officer Balslov, read her statement and said: “I’m not following you. I can’t do anything with this,” as she tried to hand the paper back to Jennifer. “You’re just angry because you found out he was married.”
Balslov certainly got that part right…. the victim is plenty angry and has every right to be!
The denial of his marriage by the offender, Bill, made every bit of sex they engaged in a sexual affront – sexual misconduct – against her!
His lie about his marital status, a lie he perpetuated over several months, deprived her of her right to make an informed decision about her body. Instead he undermined her free will by falsifying information that was critical to her, and engaged her in adulteress sex. The thought that he misused her reproductive organs this way is appalling to her.
A serial offender
Bill’s done this before….. multiple times. He leads women into thinking he’s marrying them. In fact he goes down to the courthouse with them to obtain a marriage license. Then he leaves them “standing at the alter.” One woman he did this to committed suicide.
Not only did he express his intentions to spend his life with Jennifer, he conducted unprotected sex with her on the belief that he wanted to start a family with her.
Enter Sergeant Alicia
“But you had a relationship with this man,” argued Sergeant Alicia, Balslav’s superior officer.
“No, I never had a relationship with THAT man. The man I had a relationship with was single, not him!” said Jennifer.
Relationships not only don’t matter, they make the harm even more deplorable!
Sergeant Alicia should know that sex crimes take place whether the victim knows the assailant or not. It’s the reason that the rape exemption for married couples bit the dust in NYC many years ago. And the federal government followed suit in recognizing that a spouse could be raped. Commander Venice should properly inform his officers that violence between strangers is not the only way to commit a sex crime. And when that offense is committed over and over again, the pain of discovery can be overwhelming.
An ignorant legal department weighs in
Sergeant Alicia excused himself to call the “legal department.” When he returned he said, “They said you don’t have a crime; but you can hire a lawyer and file a civil complaint.”
The job of our legal system is to provide relief in the form of justice for people who are wronged. Jennifer is not after money. Money won’t help her restore the dignity he stole from her. That’s what criminal actions are for. That, and the protection it provides for society.
Jennifer wants to make sure that no one else Bill meets ends up committing suicide as a result of getting swept into his deranged concept of entertainment.
“Did he hold you down and make you do it?” asked Alicia.
Sergeant Alicia was confused about what the term “sexual misconduct” means, and what “consent” means. Sexual misconduct, in NY State, is charged when the parties “engage in” sex without consent. It’s a Class A Misdemeanor. “Engaging in” does not mean that violence is present, despite Alicia’s denials and statements to the contrary. And his concept that anyone can “consent” to “engage in” sex when their brain is deliberately blindfolded by the offender is pure balderdash!
Could this be the case that opens society’s eyes to the real meaning of CONSENT?
You awake to a very large, strong man covering your mouth with one hand, making it difficult to breathe, let alone scream. In the other hand, he’s clenching a knife millimeters from your face. Terror seizes your entire body and you react…. but how?
Fight or flight is the response society expects in violent attacks. Your hypothalamus and pituitary take over, instantly flooding you with hormones to protect your sustainability.
Adrenalin arouses you to your circumstance.
Cortisol provides you with uncommon energy.
Opiods act like morphine to temporarily blind you to your pain.
Oxytocin attempts to stabilize your emotions.
Totally apart from your conscious control, you may be like millions of other sexual assault survivors who freeze.
It is estimated that 12 to 50% of rape victims will respond by freezing, and it is thought that the number is closer to 50% than 12%. Also, victims who experienced prior sexual trauma are more likely to experience this temporary paralysis.
The impacts on seeking justice
Policing is currently practiced under the misconception that victims will either fight with all their might to fend off brutality, or do everything in their power to free themselves. Absent evidence of doing either or both, they assume that the victim’s crime report is a lie. Approximately 86% of rapes, even those supported by a rape kit, do not make their way from the Patrolman to the Prosecutor for this reason. Yet data reported by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women indicates only 2-8% of rape accusations are false.
A natural phenomenon
Freezing, Tonic Immobility, also known as thanatosis, is an automatic response to rape as well as other forms of trauma in humans. But we are not the only animal that experiences this phenomenon. The most widely
known is the
opossum,which is why “playing dead” is also referred to as “playing opossum.” Mammals are wired with the option to look and appear dead to their attacker for protection. In sharks, rolling onto their back and becoming paralyzed enables mating.
Other impacts on the victim’s post-rape “affect”
During rape, the cocktail of hormones surging through the human body block the ability of the brain’s hippocampus to organize and store thought. Many rape victims, who are interrogated shortly after their trauma, have yet to recover cognition. Police, who don’t understand their behavior, suspect that the victim is inventing the story as they speak, when they are actually attempting to puzzle together disparate pieces that were blocked from encoding by their brain’s hormonal overload.
Their ‘affect” or appearance, may not seem emotionally charged as one would expect after a heinous assault. They could remain under the influence of those same opiods that deterred their reaction and dulled their senses during the crime.
Undermining self esteem
Victims who freeze struggle with an innate sense of guilt. Their response defied their own personal expectation that if something bad happened to them, they would fight to the death or flee. We go through life taking comfort in the concept that we are able to protect our mortality, and we respond to rape as a struggle for life. Most of society sees fight or flight as being brave, because we don’t understand that freezing is the same act of self-preservation. People who experience the trauma of rape by fraud are also plagued with similar self-blame.
How tonic immobility factors in rape by fraud
I recall vomiting and collapsing on the cold bathroom floor, immobile, when I first learned the initial lie that was used to defraud me into a sexual relationship. Little did I know, there were far more lies behind it.
Defrauding someone of sex strips them of both fight and flight to defend their body. The victim could not react, because they did not know. Their behavior, throughout the time they were assaulted, which could span years, uproots their personal sense of being able to protect themselves. The recognition that a sexual assault by fraud took place can be a paralyzing trauma.
The victim’s failure to protect their personal sexual sanctity also obscures society’s recognition that a crime took place against them. And it undermines the victim’s self-esteem in much the same way having been immobilized does in violent cases. The victim suffers secondary victimization from society, family, friends, the authorities and themselves when dealing with rape by fraud. It’s little wonder that knowing you were deceived into sex is so terribly degrading for a victim, and why it is so difficult to heal.
Media should be paying far closer attention to Tonic Immobility, just as it should be identifying the heinous nature of rape by fraud and its impacts on victims.
Watch this TEDx Talk for the key to combating sexual assault!
Inspiration for this post came from information I received from a woman who comments under the name “Semi” on US Weekly. Unless otherwise linked, the source for the data and statistics is The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault,written and presented by Dr. Rebecca Campbell, Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to watch her scholarly presentation.