Myths Help Drive Our Passivity

I will do a bit more on myths (another word for lies we believe) because they may helping to drive our faith-community and general cultural passivity.  This passivity may otherwise be thought of as lack of decisive, educated, and passionate leadership.  Thus, the silence.   The following is from Focus On the Family and may be copied without special permission.  Yay for Focus on the Family!

Resources For Victims of Rape

  • A woman is raped every 45 seconds in the United States.
  • One in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18.
  • One out of every 2 women will become a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.

These sobering figures were supplied by the Violence and Traumatic Stress Research Branch, Division of Applied and Services Research, National Institute of Mental Health.

There is no easy explanation as to why rape occurs.  FBI statistics confirm that forcible rape is the fastest growing crime in the United States, yet it remains one of the most underreported.  Unfortunately, the latest national data continues to show that the reporting rate for rape remains at a low 16 percent (National Victims Center 1992).  Due to the complexity of the crime, it is impossible to adequately explain rape with one simple statement.  However, we shall try to define this devastating and traumatic event. 

Rape is any sexual activity that is attempted or completed by force, threat of force, or coercion against another person’s will.  Men, as well as women, can be violated, and it is not a crime that necessarily strikes any one group of victims.  The person does not consent if he or she cannot reasonably choose to consent or refuse because of age, circumstances, lack of understanding or dependency/relationship to the offender.  Young and old, black and white–anyone can be raped.

Nobody has the right to demand physical or sexual favors from another person without their consent, regardless of their relationship to them.  Rape exploits one person in order to meet another person’s sexual or emotional desires.  Psychologically, it devastates its victims.  Economically, it’s extremely costly in terms of physical and mental health care, as well as lot time from work or school.  Victims of sexual assault often experience fear, anxiety, depression, difficulty in sexual relationships and many other psychological and physical symptoms.

Rape, and the issues of shame and silence surrounding it, are not new: The story of Tamar, who was violated by her half-brother Amnon, is described in 2 Samuel 13: 11-12, 14 and 20.  When her brother Absalom learned of this incident, he told her to keep silent and she remained a “desolate woman in his house.”  Many misconceptions about rape exist, and the following are just a few of them:

(Note: Since research shows that the majority of violent sexual acts are committed primarily against women, and for the sake of brevity, we will use feminine pronouns when referring to the victims of rape.  However, it should be remembered that either gender can be a perpetrator or victim.)”

My next blog will list the myths that Focus on the Family has identified.

Please note a couple of language uses above.  Rape is never “sexual activity”, “sexual favors”, and there is no such thing as a violent sexual act.  Sex is only a beautiful act between adults able to consent.  It is never, I repeat, never violent.  Violence is violence.  Rape is a violent act of dominance, power, and control by a very disturbed individual over another person.   The genitals are the weapons of choice, sometimes  in addition to other weapons.  We can reduce the confusion by using clear language.  Tamar had not ‘had sex’ with her brother.  She was not the one defiled, he was.  However, because of lies/myths believed and the silence she remained “a desolate woman in his house.”  What an unnecessary travesty.  We are not all that different today. 

One other note; yes, the results of rape are devastating (to say the least) to the victim, but also to their families and the communities they belong to.   

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