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*Warning, TRIGGERS for victims of rape. The following article discusses intimate partner rape with brief references to stranger rape.

I was told by my lawyer (at the time) that my judge said that he was not interested in my subjective experiences. I cannot be certain where that statement originated, I was not with my lawyer in court that day, but if he did say that then it is quite concerning. Verbally reducing rape and domestic violence to merely “subjective experiences” (the implication in calling it that is to minimize violent acts) demonstrates a disregard for the serious nature of the crimes. My lawyer also attributed another statement to the judge, that “this is not the 70's.” If the first quote is correct then it highlights how little has changed since the 70's. While he may be chronologically correct, it is no longer the 1970's, when you walk into the courtroom, I doubt that much has changed. Rape cases are still handled as though the victim were the one on trial, nothing has changed there. Domestic violence cases are still handled as though any complaint that a woman has about violence must either be a lie or an exaggeration.

My case involves the “subjective” experiences of rape, domestic violence, coerced reproduction, wrongful detainment, stalking, and child abuse (towards the child that I conceived from the aforementioned violent acts.) Certainly, all of our experiences in life are subjective ones (with objective components, italicized for clarity, such as: we were in our apartment, there were two people in the room (me and him), he attempted to have sex with me, I told him that I didn't want to have sex at that time, when he didn't stop“I said 'no, please stop'”, he ignored my protests so I tried to push him away as I explained why I didn't want to have sex, and he had sex with me as I cried and begged him to stop.) Some of the incidents of rape were after his violent episodes; he would fly into a rage over the smallest thing (often nothing at all, just his perception that I was not paying enough attention to him or didn't love him), he detained me against my will when I attempted to escape the violence, he made threats of suicide and insinuated homicide if I were to leave him, he behaved in violent ways as he stated that he could prove to me what he was capable of doing, and most of these incidents were followed by him having sex with me as I cried and cowered in fear of him. The last time that I checked, the objective components to my subjective experiences were called “rape” and rape was still a crime.

Rape by a partner (whether boyfriend, spouse, or something in between) is often treated as an insignificant act, barely a crime if a crime at all. Some men cling to the belief that women enjoy rape on some level. Several politicians have even come forward and been quoted with statements dripping of that thought process. By law, it is a crime to rape your partner. In practice, within the courtroom walls, raping your partner is dismissed with the attitude that “you've given it to him willingly before, he expected to be able to get it again, therefore he did nothing wrong.” There is also the belief that “women just cry rape when they don't get what they want or regret having sex.” Rarely is it acknowledged how women are bullied and shamed when they report rape. It is rare for a woman to falsely report rape, this is a crime that many of us hide with shame. The consequences to a woman for reporting rape generally far exceed any penalty that a rapist has for committing the crime (only appropriately 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail and they usually receives greater societal support than the victim.)

Being raped by a partner may be belittled but it is more harmful than being raped by a stranger. Women are taught to fear walking alone at night because strangers are lurking, waiting to rape you. Women are told to avoid going out alone at night, to travel with friends, to hold her keys so they can be used as a weapon, to take a self-defence class, and to carry pepper spray. We are told to fear the night and “strange men”, not to fear being in our own homes and our “intimate partners” (by whom most crimes against women are committed.) We are not taught what to do when raped by a partner and the psychological toll that takes on us. When you are taught to distrust strangers, you can navigate life in order to avoid that perceived danger by following the rules that society gives us. When you learn to distrust the man in your bed after he has raped you, it can destroy the basis for cherished intimate relationships. Even if you leave him, if you overcome the obligations that are placed on those in committed relationships, the remnants of the abuse casts doubt on how much you can trust your next partner.

We are not taught that partner rape looks very different from stranger rape. It may not be her first instinct to say “I was raped” if she has never had that kind of experience before. Partner rape is not going to mimic the stranger jumping out from behind your car, beating you up, and holding a knife to your throat as he rapes you. Partner rape is more subtle than that, most of the time, and can leave the victim confused. The emotional damage from partner rape is also very different from the emotional harm caused by stranger rape. The loss of trust in your partner, the heartbreak, the confusion over what happened and the “was it my fault for saying 'no' or was I not clear enough?” feeling that comes with partner rape leaves deeper mental scars. With stranger rape, women are often told that it is her fault for not following societies rules of how to dress or when to leave her home, she may even be afraid to go outside alone for fear of being attacked again. With partner rape, your own home is not safe and most victims feel invalidated as they are told that it wasn't a crime to begin with, it must have just been a “misunderstanding.”

Until the courts take partner rape seriously and consistently prosecute these crimes, victims will continue to live with the results of undeterred violence in their homes. Vast numbers of victims fear to come forward to report these violent crimes because they have seen, time and time again, how the violence is ignored by those who have the power to help. If arrested at all, the criminals are usually back on the streets within days and they know where their victim lives. The perpetrator may even have rights to enter the property (if they were married or cohabitating.) That is a far scarier experience than being assaulted by a stranger who may not know where you live and has no rights to you or your property. If you have children with the perpetrator then you may not even have the right to move out of the area or the right to an undisclosed address so that you can sleep at night without fear. Many protections are not available to victims of these crimes unless he is convicted of the actual crime (a plea to a lessor offence can affect your rights.) Victims who have children with the rapist often feel helpless as their rights to protect themselves and their children are stripped from them by the family court. If the violence was particularly brutal or may escalate after you report it, there is a strong motivation not to report the violence at all for fear of retaliation (that can end in murder or murder/suicide in some cases.) It is beyond time for the courts to protect victims of interpersonal violence, especially when children are involved, to protect the human rights of the victims of these violent crimes and to reduce the cycle of violence in families.

Originally posted to nolandofjustice on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and This Week in the War on Women.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It took a lot of time and effort (13+ / 0-)

    to get the laws changed to the point that marital rape even became a legal possibility. Under the law wives had a presumed legal duty to submit to their husband. We still have a long way to go, but that is where we started from. There are people who still believe that those rules should still apply.

  •  Thanks for sharing (9+ / 0-)

    I myself have little to no trust in the judicial system when it comes to intimate partner rape. Not only will the system be slow to adapt to realities (like women don't cause rape with short skirts, that wives don't sign over consent forever on their wedding day), but because there often isn't enough physical evidence to bring it to trial or get a conviction. An intimate partner rape, like you said, is less likely to involve a weapon. The very thing that makes it hard to prosecute is what makes it extraordinarily damaging.

    I can only hope that on a social level, our culture will weed out and reduce its violent masculinity over time. That boys will be taught better while they are young, and violent men will be ostracized.

    The most unrealistic thing about the new "Godzilla" is that there's no Tea Party character who blames the monster's presence on gay marriage -@OhNoSheTwitnt

    by MarthaPeregrine on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:40:26 AM PDT

    •  Domestic and sexual violence doesn't have a gender (1+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      doc2
      Hidden by:
      serendipityisabitch

      I don't see the need to single out males or masculinity when we're talking about this kind of violence because it marginalizes victims that don't fit peoples stereotypes. This is of particular concern to male victims along with those in the LGBT community. Assuming traits belong to one sex or another is a major problem when advocating for gender equality but too many who claim to be promoting it are often the ones advancing these stereotypes.  

      Here is a subset of the CDC NISVS 2010 survey that did a break down on victimization and sexuality.

      Violence by an Intimate Partner

      •The lifetime prevalence of rape,
      physical violence, and/or stalking
      by an intimate partner was:
      For women:

      - Lesbian – 43.8%
      - Bisexual – 61.1%
      - Heterosexual – 35.0%

      For men:
      - Gay – 26.0%
      - Bisexual – 37.3%
      - Heterosexual – 29.0%

      •The lifetime prevalence of severe
      physical violence by an intimate
      partner (e.g., hit with ist or
      something hard, slammed against
      something, or beaten) was:
      For women:

      - Lesbian – 29.4%
      - Bisexual – 49.3%
      - Heterosexual – 23.6%

      For men:
      -     Gay – 16.4%
      -     Bisexual – numbers too small
      to report
      -     Heterosexual – 13.9%

      As you can see Lesbians have higher rates of IPV than heterosexuals. Stereotypes would lead us to the opposite conclusion.

      When you look at their statistics on sexual violence perpetrators the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male except for heterosexual men who's perpetrators are mostly female. Male victimization is a under explored area of study but the indications are it's quite substantial. You'll have to look to the main NISVS Report for more on that.  

      •  What you "see the need for" is irrelevant. (4+ / 0-)

        Completely irrelevant.  It is not your diary.  Your need to intrude and try to draw attention to yourself and what you "see the need for" simply illustrates the diarist's point.

        Want to bang a drum?  Start a diary.  The diarist is not talking about you.  Now, since what you want appear to want is to distract attention from the diary and to draw attention to yourself, I've given you a cookie.

        Now you're invisible.

        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

        by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 11:58:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You came in on the heels of the Ollie Garkey (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, hwy70scientist, Catte Nappe

        diary on the Rodger killings.

        One would think that if you really wanted to avoid a third timeout you might back off promoting the cause of male victimization in every diary on women's issues, but that is evidently not the case.

        HR for continued trolling.

        mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

        by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 12:23:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing HRable here from what I see. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mzkryz

        Just another point of view, respectfully delivered.

      •  Nice deflection and redirection. (0+ / 0-)

        If you don't see a need to talk about hypermasculinity as a contributing factor to violence, you aren't paying attention.

        Not everything is black and white (e.g. obviously there are other flavors of IPV besides man-on-woman) but this diary, specifically, is about man-on-woman. Which is what my comment was about. Do you also hijack threads about white-on-black violence, and point out black-on-black or black-on-white violence is "substantial" and why is no one talking about THAT? WE GET IT. It exists. But you are deflecting and minimizing the diarist's point. One can't have a deep or nuanced conversation about anything without getting narrow and specific. So can you just chill out and let people talk about woman-on-man IPV without adding in some #NotAllMen hashtags?

        The most unrealistic thing about the new "Godzilla" is that there's no Tea Party character who blames the monster's presence on gay marriage -@OhNoSheTwitnt

        by MarthaPeregrine on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:21:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What, specifically, do you advocate (0+ / 0-)

    changing about the way rapes are handled in the judicial and law enforcement system, and will that make rape more similar, or different, from the way other crimes are presently handled?  Will it make it easier, or harder, to falsely convict an alleged rapist, and should the presumption of innocence, which is what puts the burden of proof on a victim in the first place, be relaxed in cases of alleged rapes?

    I think this is one of the more important, and problematic, issues in our justice  system today, so thank you for posting about it, btw.

    •  That is the head of the nail right there.... (6+ / 0-)

      If I say "He robbed me" I don't think the judicial system disbelieves me when they say "show us the proof."  But in the horror and trauma of rape, "show us the proof" is the worst idea that can be communicated.  It is routinely interpreted as "We don't believe you.".

      Getting past that barrier will only be possible when the system changes how it handles such cases.  A good start may be with special courts presided by judges who have special training in the psychological and emotional impacts of rape and of how a victim may present her or himself.

      This at least may reduce the number of idiot judges who reject "subjective statements".

      Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

      by LiberalCanuck on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 11:09:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Given that the spouse in question (3+ / 0-)

        could face prison if convicted, why in the world should proof not have to be shown in order to prosecute such a case? When a couple shares a domicile, shares a bed, and has consensual sex on a regular basis, it is obvious that convicting one person of raping the other is going to be more of a challenge than rape between people who are not already in a consensual sexual relationship. The burden of proof should be high.

        •  Traditionally (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, churchylafemme, Penny GC

          the burden of proof is on the prosecutor and the investigatory team - not the victim. Victims of crimes don't have to prove they were victims. Their allegations are investigated by professionals.

          However in the case of rape very often the victims, who are in the middle of the most traumatic experience of their lives, are asked to provide proof on the spot. While there are some good investigators out there; I don't want to paint everyone with the same brush, many rape investigations start from the assumption that the victim not only has to prove the allegation themselves, they further have to prove their behavior was above reproach!

          If you walk down the street wearing a diamond necklace and are mugged you don't have to prove that you should have had the right to wear the diamond necklace. The police take your statement and investigate the mugging. If you are raped you are all to often called upon to prove that it happened, and to establish you were in no way responsible for someone else's actions.

          I don't think anyone really wants to lower the standard of proof, but it would be nice if we included rape as one of the crimes police were supposed to investigate exhaustively and with as much sensitivity to the victim as can be managed.

          The nation is burning but we won't look up as long as the fiddle plays.

          by Miang on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 06:35:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just how would an investigator investigate (0+ / 0-)

            the claims of a wife that on a particular wife her husband forced her to have sex with him? Assuming there are no obvious signs she was beaten, how in the world could such a crime be proven using physical evidence?

            •  Ah yes...the classic (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Penny GC

              Always give the benefit of the doubt to the abuser.  

              The implication of your comment is this: marital rape cannot be proved, unless the husband beats the wife badly enough to leave "obvious signs," or unless the husband admits that he raped his wife.

              Give the benefit of the doubt to the abuser, because a man's home is his castle, right?

              Instead of posing empty questions, perhaps you should spend the same amount of time researching answers to those questions.  You know -- instead of expecting someone else to educate you, try educating yourself.  

              "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

              by Silencio on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 08:49:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  doc2 is a notorious mentalist (0+ / 0-)

            His ability to divine intent from thousands of miles away is positively Fristian.

      •  With any other crime, (6+ / 0-)

        police and prosecutors default to treating crime victims like crime victims.  Rape is the one crime where this is frequently not the case, where the victim is immediately assumed to be lying if she doesn't fit a very narrow template of what a rape victim is supposed to look like.  

        No one is suggesting that we do away with the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for conviction, despite the paranoid claims to the contrary that pop up on every one of these threads.  Most rape reports never reach the point of a trial because of  the assumption (by too many cops, attorneys and others)  that rape victims are guilty of lying until proven innocent.  That's what needs to change.

        I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

        by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:07:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your diary. (5+ / 0-)

    And I'm sorry you experienced that.

    "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

    by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 11:08:01 AM PDT

  •  Intimate Partner rape doesn't get enough attention (0+ / 0-)

    The focus on stranger rape, date rape, acquaintance rape, and the like have really obscured intimate partner rape which makes up half of the total.  

    "More than half (51.1%) of female
    victims of rape reported being
    raped by an intimate partner
    and 40.8% by an acquaintance;
    for male victims, more than half (52.4%) reported being
    raped by an acquaintance
    and 15.1% by a stranger"
    - CDC NISVS 2010
    It's hard to  for me to imagine the trauma that comes with being raped time and again by the person you share a bed with.  It's horrific and cruelty like that shouldn't be dismissed by a judge of all people. Your account was objectively rape by legal definitions so I really don't know where they got off assuming something to the contrary.  

    I disagree the risk of false allegations can simply be dismissed especially in divorce proceedings and particularly those involving child custody where it's frightfully common.

    "My lawyer also attributed another statement to the judge, that “this is not the 70's.” If the first quote is correct then it highlights how little has changed since the 70's. "

    Things have changed a great deal and I don't think it's fair to cast dispersion on the whole society every time a individual says or does something backwards. Domestic violence along with crime in general has been declining for decades.  The legislation passed has had an substantial impact and we should direct most of our anger at perpetrators rather than the imperfect system being asked to sort who is guilty or innocent. In your case you have good cause to hold that judge in contempt but I don't think the entire system is against victims.  

    " Many protections are not available to victims of these crimes unless he is convicted of the actual crime (a plea to a lessor offence can affect your rights.)"

    The due process requirement being innocent until proven guilty isn't something we should  dismiss because it's at times inconvenient. If we're going to drive the accused out their homes prior to adjudication the state ought pay to house them until that happens in or outside of jail.

    We have to find balance in addressing these concerns. The state assuming all accused people are guilty isn't balanced.

  •  Subjective experiences (2+ / 0-)

    The point of the criminal justice system, I think, is that some people have been "subjected" to crimes, and other people have committed those crimes, and as a society, we want to punish the latter, first, to obtain justice for the victim (although the "Justice System" doesn't always produce justice), second, to protect the rest of society from the criminal, who might otherwise subject others to the same treatment, and third, to send a message of deterrence that such acts are wrong and forbidden in society.

    The experience of the victim is always a subjective one, by definition, because the victim is the subject of the crime. The criminal is the actor, and the victim is acted upon.

    To say that the court is not interested in the "subjective experiences" of the victim is to say that the court is uninterested in the crime itself. But of course, what is really implied is that, perhaps the crime was not really a crime. Perhaps whether a crime occurred is just a matter of opinion.

    If the bank feels it has been robbed by Charlie, but Charlie doesn't feel like he robbed the bank, isn't it the duty of the court to give equal weight to Charlie's view of things as to the bank's?

    Judge: How do you account for these five people who say they saw you rob the jewelry store?

    Defendant: Your honor, I'll show you five hundred people who didn't see me rob it.

    La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues, et de voler du pain.

    by dconrad on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 01:29:31 PM PDT

    •  Disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch
      To say that the court is not interested in the "subjective experiences" of the victim is to say that ...Perhaps whether a crime occurred is just a matter of opinion.
      To say the court is not interested in the subjective experience is to say they want "just the objective facts". "He said,.. then I said,.. then he did,... then I did... And here's a medical report that shows.... and photos of bruises taken just afterward". The court is not interested in the feelings evoked by the experience. They don't want "then I said.....because I felt" or "then I did......because I was afraid that..."

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 02:40:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A typo I think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    Because this appears to be the opposite of your intended meaning, as discerned from the rest of the diary.

    reducing rape and domestic violence to merely “subjective experiences”

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 02:42:08 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting about this (4+ / 0-)

    It can't be easy to talk about.  

    A lot of people in our legal system are still caught up in the stereotype of the Todd-Akin-approved "legitimate rape" (stranger in the bushes with a knife, etc), and don't want to look at the reality that most rapes are committed by people known to the victim.  Most rapists deliberately target people they know, exactly because they know they're likely to get away with it.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 04:50:29 PM PDT

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