The shocking figures revealed that one in 10 women had been raped, and more than a third subjected to sexual assault. The survey also highlights just how frightened women are of not being believed. More than 80 per cent of the 1,600 respondents said they did not report their assault to the police, while 29 per cent said they told nobody – not even a friend or family member – of their ordeal.
The figures are indeed shocking to the unaware.
Several years ago I was working late with eight female colleagues. We somehow got onto the topic of rape and of the eight; six had been raped or sexually assaulted. Not one had reported it and the rapists were not strangers.
Most of the attacks were by men who had been firmly placed in the friend zone, others by partners who were fed up of their woman being tired all the time. Another was by a soon to be ex who saw the writing on the wall and figured he’d take what was due to him.
Scenario One – Putting a guy in the friend zone
It’s not until a ‘friend’ has raped you that you realise that the ‘friend zone’ wasn’t the best place to put him. Can men and women really have platonic relationships?
Beth was in a solid relationship and because she was constantly hassled by guys, she wore a simple wedding band. When John stopped her on the high street she happily flashed him her ring finger to let him know she was taken.
John was not put out by this and said maybe they could be friends. Beth said maybe. Because John lived nearby they used to bump into each other regularly. Beth was happy to say hello and shoot the breeze for a few minutes. It turned out that they had a few things in common, John was an actor and Beth enjoyed watching plays.
One day John invited Beth to his flat to watch him rehearse with some other actors. She was the first to arrive but she soon realised nobody else was coming. When she attempted to leave she was dragged into a bedroom and raped.
Despite her cries and struggles this act did not register as rape to John because he attempted to cuddle her afterward assuring her that it would be different next time. John continued to talk to her in the street and telephone her even after she had said in words what he failed to acknowledge. “You raped me. Please leave me alone”. It wasn’t until Beth threatened to go to the police that he stopped pestering her.
Beth didn’t report it because she felt that maybe she had given John mixed singles. Maybe she had been too naïve thinking that men could actually just be friends.
Scenario Two – Calling it quits
Sandra had been in a relationship with Ian for six months when he started talking about moving in together. It was a big step and one she realised she didn’t want to take.
Ian was a nice guy but she had a feeling he was a player or he was hiding something from her. Ian had claimed he was living with flat mates and wanted to keep Sandra to himself because he didn’t trust them. When he kept pressing her to make a decision she decide to break it off citing the fact that she’d never been to his place and felt he was hiding things from her.
First Ian tried to placate her telling her things would be different when they were living together. When she still insisted, he got angry and raped her. He actually told her that he might as well get some if it was going to be the last time. It turned out that Ian was living with the mother of his two kids and she was kicking him out. Ian was looking for a new nest.
Sandra didn’t report it. She was just happy to see the back of him.
These are just two scenarios. The ididntreport hashtag started by LondonFeminist who posted it in response to the Mumsnet “We Believe You” rape-awareness campaign also made for upsetting reading. Brave women tweeted about sexual assaults that they didn’t report.
Following the showing of the BBC 3 documentary I Never Said Yes on 28 March, people have again been tweeting about their experiences and others about their shock at the revelations.
If there is one thing I hate more than reality TV it’s shows about rape and abuse. They give me nightmares. I didn’t watch the show so couldn’t comment on it because I never said yes and I didn’t report it.
Some myths about rape
- It’s not rape if a woman has consented to some sexual intimacy, or has previously had sex with many partners
- Women are most likely to be raped by a stranger, outside, in dark alleyways
- Rape can’t take place in an on-going relationship
- Women provoke rape by their appearance or their behaviour
- If a woman didn’t struggle, wasn’t injured, or didn’t report immediately – she wasn’t raped