I awoke today with a splitting migraine that just won't go away. And to top it off, my roommate's friend who is over has a laugh that makes me want to rip my ears off. To be fair, the roommate warned me about the laugh, I just didn't believe how bad it could be.
So I'm up in my room with the door closed, wearing headphones, over medicating (just on OTC meds, don't worry), and feeling very stabby indeed.
I'm feeling like there's not much to be thankful for anyway. Migraines are a regular occurrence lately. My cat has cancer. I've begun the process of getting a restraining order from psychopants which hopefully I won't need but I take these things very seriously. I'm feeling homesick and cranky more and more.
But, as fate would have it, Lauren, a new friend, sent me an idea for a blog post today that I just have to make time for before I pass out. A topic that I'm so passitonate about and I hope you are to.
Did you know that today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women? Also known at White Ribbon Day in many countries. This is an issue that affects every one of us, even if we don't think so. It's something that is never funny. Is never to be joked about.
I'll include some stats and details in a moment, but first, I want to tell my own story.
The timing for this is perfect really, as I made my Twitter private and took down a picture of myself that was garnering entirely too much unwanted sexual attention (just a picture of my neck and profile. who knew that would be so alluring?). As I get a restraining order. As I purchase pepper spray and refresh my self defense skills. As I cosidered making my blog private as well.
But you know what? Fuck that. I refuse to cower. I refuse to make my blog private. Who does that hurt? Me and you. Me and my desire to keep growing this blog and connect with more and more people and maybe someday get a name as a writer because of it. It hurts you, my lovely readers, who keep coming back and reading and commenting and sharing your lives with me. I've always maintained that I'm okay with anonymous readers and comments because it maintains the spirit of the blogging community, the spirit of freedom of self-publication, with no middle man blocking writer and reader.
So I will not be making my blog private. And I also think it's time to tell my own story of violence against women. You've all heard the story of my first stalker, I hope, which I made funny but which was very scary at the time. Thankfully, it never escalated to violence, but I took all the precautions I could.
But you've never heard the other story. The story I don't ever tell anyone. I was sexually assaulted in high school. By a boy I knew. I never told anyone at the time and have told a handful of people since. I wish I was braver back then and I wish girls felt brave enough now to tell their stories of assault.
It's important to me to note that I wasn't raped. I was assualted. I'm not sure why the distinction is important, but it is. But that doesn't lessen the emotional severity of that attack. It's motivated me to be a strong woman and do all that I can to protect myself. If I'd been a braver girl, I would have turned him in to make sure it never happened to anyone else. As far as I know, it didn't. As far as I know, he lives happily with a wife and child. However, it seems to me that someone who was that violent once can exhibit that kind of violence again.
I want all women to know that their strength protects other women.
This is what Lauren told me and I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her:
While it's not an official part of WRD, the backlog of rape kits in the US is something of my own personal cause. I am not a victim of rape but statistically I know somebody who is, and as a woman it's something that really upsets me. Every two minutes a rape occurs in the US and such a small number of those crimes are ever reported, even fewer are prosecuted. While there aren't any definitive numbers, it is estimated that there are several hundred thousand untested rape kits sitting in storage across the country. With kits dating back years and years, some are now past their state's statute of limitations and will eventually be destroyed.
Undergoing a rape kit takes courage and strength for an already traumatized victim and storing those kits away untested, while the cases run cold is sending rape victims a terrible message. It says that they don't matter, that the suffering they endured doesn't matter, and that they don't deserve justice for the crimes committed against them. Unacceptable. The backlog is so beyond the scope of ridiculous that I can't even believe that it's still an issue...rape is one of those awkward topics nobody likes to talk about but unless we start how will things ever get better?
Here is the official website calling for this cause : http://endthebacklog.org/index.htm
Here are some statistics (source: http://www.rainn.org/)
- 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
- 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
- 9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.
- While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.
- In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. (These figures do not include victims 12 years old or younger.)
- Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
- Here's the math. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey -- the country's largest and most reliable crime study -- there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available).
- There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 248,300 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 127 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.
- Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported.
- Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though they make up about 10% of all victims.
- 60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years.2 Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.
- More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.
- 4 in 10 take place at the victim's home.
- 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
- 1 in 12 take place in a parking garage.
- 43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.
- 24% occur between midnight and 6:00am.
- The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm.
- The Criminals:
- Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
- 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
- 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
- 28% are an intimate.
- 7% are a relative.
- The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.
- 52% are white.
- 22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.
- Juveniles accounted for 16% of forcible rape arrestees in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses.
- In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs.
- In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon — 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife, and 2 % used another form of weapon.
- 84% of victims reported the use of physical force only.
- Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.
- 46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.
- 18.6% for a violent offense.
- 14.8% for a property offense.
- 11.2% for a drug offense.
- 20.5% for a public-order offense.
UN site for the International Day of Violence against Women
Stop Violence Against Women- Amnesty International
I hope we can all pledge to end violence against women.