Tue. Aug 20th, 2019

Rape: An underreported crime

Faheem Ul Islam

Rape is a huge issue that plagues the world today. It is a worldwide issue, and is not specific to any one country. Rape also can impact anyone at any time. It is not specific to any one neighborhood, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or financial status. Rapes continue to happen frequently, and yet many are not reported to the police. Rape is widely thought to be the most underreported crime. There are many stigmas that go along with rape, so it makes it difficult to come forward. Also, it is sometimes difficult to prove rape when there are no physical signs. The victim may also fear being further victimized through the investigative process, so the crime is not reported. Furthermore, with the easy availability of illegal drugs, date rape has become more commonplace. Although date rape can occur without drugs, many times people use illegal substances to render their victims powerless against their advances. This is one form of date rape. In these cases, the victims do not even know what happened to them, and if they were even raped. Some of the drugs can create loss of memory, so it makes it impossible for the victim to express what happened. There are many different drugs used for date rape. Some, like alcohol, are not illegal substances. However, many of the drugs used in date rape are illegal substances. Rape can leave the victim feeling powerless. Many victims experience rape trauma syndrome, which can severely impact their lives.
With the prevalence of rape in all communities, it is crucial for people to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Although it is impossible to ensure complete security, there are ways to maintain safety. It is important for everyone to make their own drinks so that no one can slip any drugs into them. Also, a buddy system can be very beneficial to help everyone stay safe, and not end up a bad situation. Rape truly is the most personal of all crimes. Many people do not talk about sexual matters at all, so they are even less likely to discuss rape. If someone was raised in an environment where they did not talk about sexual things, they will be less likely to report a rape as an adult. It is difficult enough for the victim to get through the actual experience, and victims do not want to have to relive it several times with many different people. Unfortunately, that is the only way to bring justice to the attacker. If the victim comes forward about the attack, they will have to talk to the police at least once, talk to the prosecutor, and talk to the judge or jury depending on the type of case. It would not be as difficult if the victim only had to discuss the issue once, but they continually have to discuss it with different people, all of whom are strangers to them.
Reasons Why Rape Is Underreported?
These are only a few of the reasons why rape is underreported. Victims have their own reasons for not reporting rapes, including fear of embarrassment, fear of retaliation, and the fear that they will not be believed. They also may not want to discuss this due to the personal nature of the crime. Victims may just want to move on with their lives and act like the assault never happened.
Consequences of Rape
Rape is a horrifying and invasive crime. It has the potential to completely change the victim’s life. With some crimes, once the actual crime is over, the victim can move on with their life. This is not the case with rape victims. Once the attack is over, there are many other issues the victim will encounter. Many victims of rape experience long-term consequences of their attack. There may be physical consequences deriving from the attack. There also may be emotional consequences. Many rape victims have difficulties returning to their normal lives after the attack. They may exhibit symptoms of rape trauma syndrome, a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many physical consequences that can arise from rape. The victim may become pregnant from the attack. This leads to a difficult decision for the victim, made even more difficult if they do not believe abortion is an appropriate option. Some women may have religious or personal views that prevent them from getting an abortion, and thus are forced to go through a pregnancy resulting from a rape. In addition, the adult rape pregnancy rate is actually increasing based on United States Census Reports. It is estimated that “there may be 32,100 rape-related pregnancies annually among America women over the age of 18 years” . This statistic does not even include all the minors who become pregnant due to a sexual assault.
Rape victims can also contract sexually transmitted diseases from the attack. Depending on the disease, there may be an easy cure, or they may have to live with the disease for the rest of their lives. If they contract acquired immune deficiency syndrome, more commonly known as AIDS, their life may actually be shortened. This is why many emergency rooms administer antibiotics when someone claims they have been raped. This is an attempt to cure a disease before it is even diagnosed. Also, some emergency rooms may have prophylactic treatment for those who may have been exposed to AIDS. Rape victims may also have acute injuries resulting from the rape. Depending on the level of violence in the rape, these injuries can be minimal to severe. Typically the most violent rapes are stranger rapes. This is because “stranger rapists are more likely to involve the use of a weapon” . This weapon is most frequently a knife . If the attacker used the knife to stab the victim, there may be internal injuries or bleeding. Attackers also may beat their victims. This can lead to simple cuts and bruises or more complex injuries like broken ribs. In addition, the victim may experience vaginal or rectal tears from the rape.
There are both emotional and psychological issues resulting from rape that are included in rape trauma syndrome. There are two phases of rape trauma syndrome. The first phase is the acute phase. In the acute phase, the victim “experiences a complete disruption of her life, resulting from the violence she experienced” . The victim may have a range of emotions during the acute phase, including “crying, shouting, swearing, or laughing inappropriately” . The victim may experience severe mood swings, and change emotions very quickly. They may be fearful to even leave their home. If the attack happened in their home, they may not feel safe living there anymore. The second phase of rape trauma syndrome is the reorganization phase. In the reorganization phase, victims must reorganize their lives . This is accomplished with help from friends and family members . During this phase, the victims have to learn ways to cope with their daily lives, and the disturbing thoughts that may enter their minds at any time. They may return to work and attempt to move on, but the pain and fear is still present in their minds.
There are many different symptoms of rape trauma syndrome. Some of the symptoms include “fear, helplessness, shock, disbelief, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, self-blame, flashbacks of the rape, avoidance of previously pleasurable activities, avoidance of the place or circumstances in which the rape occurred, depression, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, and impaired memory” . These symptoms greatly inhibit the victim’s ability to heal and move on with their life. They may be happy one moment, and then suddenly be overcome with sadness and not able to understand where the sadness originated. While in the acute phase they may experience a wide range of emotions. When they enter the reorganization phase, they may not have quite as many mood swings, but may experience flashbacks of the attack. This contributes to their insomnia. Victims are afraid to go to sleep because they may have nightmares of the attack. They also lost their sense of control when they were attacked, and going to sleep leaves them vulnerable yet again.

(The author is a student at Aligarh Muslim University. Views are his own faheemulislam9@gmail.com)

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