Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rape Myths Part II, Part III

This is the post that just keeps going. We had intended to write about some other rape myths, and still will, but the universe keeps providing evidence of ways that believing that women lie about being raped can be incredibly damaging to rape victims (as if it weren't already obvious).

Earlier this week, Ms. Magazine told the story of a woman who reported a sexual assault and was deemed by police to be a liar. They went so far as to charge her with false reporting and fine her $500. Turns out, she wasn't lying.

Three years later, Marc O’Leary was arrested in Colorado for charges of sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and felony menacing. He is being held on $5 million bail. When the police raided O’Leary’s home earlier this month, they found photos of his victims.

The 18-year-old woman from Washington [whom police accused of false reporting] was in those photographs.
Police have reopened her case, reimbursed her $500 and are working on getting her record expunged, but they can't undo the trauma they caused. This young woman was made to look like a liar to her entire community, she was given a criminal record, and she was retraumatized by police and the courts by making her relive her assault and then not believing her. The police also allowed O'Leary to assault two other women, women to whom he would never have had access if he had been behind bars because the police took the original report seriously.

By believing that women commonly lie about rape, we are helping rapists. We help men like O'Leary escape punishment for using violence against women, freeing them to do it again. Remember that the next time you are tempted to be skeptical.

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