Monday, August 15, 2011
I'm considered something of an asshole in the discussion of rape; I'm inconsiderate, frequently rude, blunt, and I don't follow the rules about how things are "Supposed" to be discussed.
My experiences aren't that of a rape victim - I legally am defined as a rape victim, but only because of silly laws. That's not where I come from.
I come from the background of somebody who has seen a wide range of the victims in question; a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a father, a victim of rape who said no but didn't fight back, and dozens of perhaps the most common, abused wives/girlfriends (I am largely omitting in this discussion, but it is noteworthy, that almost every one of the wives in question was not merely abused, but abusive, like abuse is a language of its own I just don't speak.)
It's the lattermost which color my opinion most strongly, because invariably they are the victims of serial abuse; they leave one abusive husband/boyfriend for another, who they leave in turn for another - frequently leaving and returning to even the same abusive situation.
At first it's easy to paint them as victims of their own psychology, or victims of manipulation - they feel they have no control and must return, after all.
But children are almost always eventually involved as well, and their skipping from abuser to abuser isn't just affecting them; they're forcing their children into abusive situations as well.
I know somebody who has called CPS on one of their own friends - a woman with several kids including one daughter, who my friend is quite certain is being sexually abused by the mother's boyfriend. The mother is at minimum complicit - she instructed at least one of the kids to lie to CPS about being hit by the boyfriend, which the kid told my friend. A follow-up call didn't do much more good.
Is this really any different from a woman lying about her own abuse? Does a mother have greater responsibility to take care of her kids than any woman does to take care of herself?
Not as I see it. Not one of these women ever ceased to be victims because a man changed; not a one of them ceased to be a victim because society changed. The only ones who ever get out of their situations are the ones who themselves change.
I have long since ceased to be able to regard a victim as being blameless solely on the context of victimhood; these women see themselves as victims, powerless to change anything. Telling them they're victims, not responsible for what happens to them, is -not- empowering. It is telling them exactly what they already think - because somebody who isn't responsible for what happens to them is somebody who has no power to change what happens to them. They cry, possibly get one abusive boyfriend put in jail - and go right on to another because they didn't learn anything.