Thursday, November 25, 2010

On White Ribbons and Violence Against Women

So it's Thanksgiving is it? Well you all already know my opinion on this day. But it's turning out to be more shitty than I'd anticipated.

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/)
  • Victims:
    • 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.
    •  Reporting
      • 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.
      •  Where:
        • 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.
      •  When:
        • 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.
        Some informational websites:
        RAINN
        UN site for the International Day of Violence against Women
        UNIMFEM
        Stop Violence Against Women- Amnesty International
          So as not to end on such a sober note, here's a very lovely video produced in Australia for White Ribbon Day (some of these guys are quite yummy):



          I hope we can all pledge to end violence against women.

          19 comments mean you love me:

          SantaDearest said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Thank you for this post today.

          I swear.

          Signed,
          Your @SantaDearest *<|:{)}>

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          thanks, Santa. so can I get that million dollars I asked for for Christmas?

          Lauren Marie said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Absolutely fantastic! I'm so glad that you took the time to share this with us before you pass out. As I anticipated you handled the topic with the grace, sincerity, and sass that I've come to expect from your blog ;) Thank you so much, and I don't mind being quoted at all!

          Violence against women isn't a laughing matter, at all but I think that even more devistating of a reaction than laughter would be indifference. It is a problem in most inhabited nations across the globe and all of us know a woman who has been effected by violence in one way or another, which makes it our responsibility to force change.

          I also want to thank you for sharing your own story with us and I too hope that it helps another girl to feel more empowered than you did, and to tell somebody who can understand and help her. And if that distinction between rape and assualt is important to you than it's important to me too.

          The statistics were sobering, even though I knew what most of them were, it was still hard to read them again. 1 in 6 is a scary number, and that number actualy shrinks down to 1 in 4 women that will be victims of rape or attempted rape on college campuses.


          *If you'd like to do more to help end the backlog of rape kits visit the 'Action Center' of the official site and send and e-mail to President Obama and to your state representatives to let them know how important this issue is, and demand that they take action.

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Lauren, thank you for asking me to write about this and for being the warrior you are.

          love to you.

          Menzies said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          I come from a country that has a chronic problem with domestic violence – as Lauren said, it's a problem in every inhabited country, but the island of Puerto Rico seems stuck between machismo and modernism on things like this.

          Since then, and from a couple other stories I've heard - both of which have made me rather ashamed about my gender - I've been trying to find out everything I can on the subject. And to help wherever I can.

          So thank you for writing this, and thank you, Lauren, for bringing it to Andy's attention. I will continue doing what I can.

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          thanks, Menzies.

          Satan said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          yep. and i'm part of these statistics.

          additionally, i went to check here the other day and it was set to private - i was so upset. i'm so glad you're back!!!

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          I was hacked! some phishing malware was installed so I had to pull it down. so glad I'm back!!

          Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          It is just sickening. Too many are part of those statistics in one place or another. Then you have all those who were almost part of it...the ones that were scared and felt incredible vulnerable in a nasty situation but were nothing "worse" happened. Needless to say I was not impressed with being told that unless you were actually beaten up properly or raped you shouldn't worry about it.

          It will never happen again. And should never happen to anyone.

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Nush, I agree completely! :)

          Suniverse said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Good for you. Thanks for this post. It's amazing and so are you.

          I'm proud to know you.

          Menzies said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Side note:

          I tried to sign up at End the Backlog, to their mailing list. I got through most of it fine but can't seem to make the e-mail confirmation work properly for some reason: just links me back to the home page.

          Thought either someone else might know what's up or otherwise let me know what I need to do.

          Alex@LateEnough said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          My Thanksgiving sucked, too. I should've just found a march for women. Or chained myself to some uppity white male privileged place (which leaves a TON of possibilities). Time better spent.
          Thank you for this. I'm sorry that man assaulted you. No one ever deserves to be treated that way. I'm glad you felt comfortable saying something in your blog space. You are definitely not alone.
          I hope the crazy dude eases up soon.

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Sun- thanks, love. proud to know you too!

          Menz- no clue. sorry.

          Alex- we could've done that together. good times. thanks, darlin. you're the best.

          alonewithcats said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          I'm relieved to hear you're standing your ground and fighting back. But I wish you didn't have to.

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          thanks, darlin! me too.

          Colleen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Great post. It puts me on a similar topic of human trafficking, also known as the human slave trade. Many people refuse to believe that slavery still exists simply because they don't see it happening, but it does. An estimated 1 million people are trafficked into the US alone every year, and these people are forced into labor or the sex trade.

          It happens everywhere around the world; Western countries are import countries because there is the demand and people from poorer countries, who are trying to find a better life in richer nations, are taken advantage of by slave traders. They are tricked by traders and are forced into their service.

          People are brought into the US by car, boat, plane, and on foot. It is very difficult for law enforcement to identify a trafficking victim; many times they are called illegal immigrants and are deported. Victims who have returned to their native country are often targeted by the slave trade again: to be sold or killed (especially if they speak out against the slave trade).

          The sex trade is especially large, and these women and children are forced into prostitution. This is another form of violence against women.

          Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. The international slave trade ended in 1807, and yet more people are trafficked worldwide today than during the entire period of legal slavery from the 16th to 19th centuries.

          Help end human trafficking today!

          www.humantrafficking.org

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Colleen- YES, thank you for adding that. I appreciate it. the sex trade is alive and well and right under our noses. love to you.

          andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

          Colleen- YES, thank you for adding that. I appreciate it. the sex trade is alive and well and right under our noses. love to you.

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