A Few Words on Rape
Rebecca has recently completed her S6 studies at a local Edinburgh High School, and was part of the 'Do You Know' Theatre project on preventing sexual violence with ERCC's prevention project. Rebecca believes that if we can get more people talking about situations surrounding sexual violence, then through people being more aware we can create a change - even if it is just one person who continues the conversation.
Rape. One short word with too many connotations. Fear, devastation, depression and liar. The word liar should never be heard in the same sentence when talking about rape. But it too commonly is. It is too commonly heard because those who would use it do not understand the true meaning of the word. People don’t only get raped by scary men hiding in bushes by the side of the alley, but someone is being raped or assaulted the second that an act is done without consent. This includes when consent is removed from a situation, and also within situations in which a person may not be able to give their consent.
But sometimes society tells you different. We hear myths that rape is only committed by strangers. Or that if someone is dressed in a certain way or under the influence of alcohol then they must be “asking for it”. These myths are damaging to survivors as many have been assaulted by people they once thought that they could trust.
A survivor of rape should never be accused of it being their fault, either. You have the right to wear what you want. You have the right to walk where you want at any time you wish. You have the right to attend any party. You have the right to take a short cut. You have the right to do anything you want without living with the fear of being raped. And you have that right because that fear should not be there.
These myths silence rape survivors. These myths make them feel as if it was their fault. Rape is a massively underreported crime – in 2012 – 2013, Rape Crisis Scotland reported that 83% of their service users had not reported to the police. In 2014, this decreased to 48% not reporting. For me, I can’t stop thinking about that 83%, that 48%. And I think you should think about them, too. Because I believe that they are being silenced. And one of those things silencing them is society’s attitudes, and the fear of being called a liar. Don’t believe me?
Footballer Ched Evans was convicted of rape in April 2012. Being in the public eye Ched’s ‘fans’ have grown massive hate campaigns branding the survivor a ‘liar’. Calling the survivor a liar whilst publically naming her silences many others who are suffering from the same crime as her. The survivor in the Ched Evans case had to change her name and move home. This poses the question: who are we really putting on trial for rape - the perpetrator or the victim?
While Ched was in prison his ‘fans’ sang his name from the stands of Bramall Lane. A website was set up claiming he was wrongly convicted. After being released from prison Ched began to train with former club Sheffield United once again. It was reported that he was going to sign for Sheffield United, however this was only
disallowed when sponsors threatened to walk if the signing went ahead. Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis announced that she wanted her name taken off her stand if Ched was given the opportunity to sign for the club. Following this, Jessica received tons of rape threats from those same fans who would protest Ched’s innocence. This has to make you question what kind of society we live in today when someone takes a stand for what is right and receives threats for such a serious crime such as rape – the issue she was taking a stand against in the first place. Ched was only stopped from signing at Oldham Athletic following a tidal wave of petitions and resignation threats from the board; yet it is reported that Oldham’s director claimed he had “no regrets” over trying to sign the convicted rapist. Hartlepool manager Ronnie Moore reportedly also voiced support for Ched, and is quoted saying: “He is a proven scorer. He's served his time and the boy wants to play football. If it could happen, I'd want it to."
Imagine being in the survivors position. The words ‘liar’ and ‘served his time’ ringing in your ears. Imagine being the survivor and being faced with the prospect that the person who raped you had fans who sang their name through glory in front of many others. The prospect that their life would not be made difficult and they could earn money so easily. The prospect that one day they will run out of a tunnel wearing the same shirt that many others are wearing and therefore for those 90 minutes they are all believing in the same thing. For the whole match they are a unit, believing in one thing – to win the game. For Ched to have the ability to become the supporters’ hero that day. And you? You’re forgotten about. You’re nothing. You’re silenced because you are nothing but a liar in the eyes of all those people. They don’t side with you: they side with him. The prospect that your rapist was not viewed as the bad person anymore but you are. You are a liar who tried to sabotage his career. Do we want to be living in a world where rapists can win and be the ones we cheer? Where rapists celebrate in glory? This is not justice. This is not right.
Can you imagine being a survivor and hearing those words?
The myth that false accusations of rape are common silences many as they fear they will not be taken seriously. In reality, false accusations are estimated to be 3%. The figure pales in comparison to the number of rapes which go un-reported. The number of rapists who go unprosecuted. If Ched Evans is given a job within the public eye, I believe that we will see the current 52% of reported rapes wither away to 40%, then 30%, then 20%, then 10%. It would not only silence his survivor but it would silence other survivors too. It could silence the ones asking the question of who to tell, who will listen, and most importantly: who will believe?
Never silence a survivor. Always believe.