Women and Victimization: Rape and Sexual Assault

Abstract

Sexual Assault is a primary issue in the health sector with disturbing wellness consequences to the victims. Some rape misconceptions serving to deny sexual violence and justifying this act have prevailed. The myths are reviewed, tactics to correct them, and, more so, both physical and psychological effects that come along with sexual violence. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam, commonly known as a rape kit, is a tool used after sexual violence for assembling evidence needed during prosecution. Further, the study explains that patients of such cases are offered emotional support and treatment of possible body injuries. The benefits of this process and the steps involved are discussed. Evidence from resources obtained from campus at West Texas A&M University for sexual assault reveals that learning institutions have in place policies that apply to students and employees regarding sexual harassment and discrimination. The study concludes by recommending campaigns and walks to create awareness about sexual violence and women’s victimization to reduce the assaults. For better understanding, the terms victim, patient, and survivor will be used to refer to the person who underwent the act of sexual violence.

Introduction

Sexual Assault has become rampant and a major topic in global headlines. Past research has focused on sexual violence and revealed that the issue is gendered in nature. A higher percentage of the survivors are women who also suffer victimization because of the mythical beliefs associated with rape. Additionally, the assaults are related to psychological pressure leading to incapacitation and poor judgments in making decisions. However, a medical examination can address an assault patient’s worries, help lessen the trauma, and quicken healing (Subramanian & Green, 2015). Although various studies have been conducted based on sexual violence, related health problems, and legal consequences, less attention has been given to college-based assaults in the context of sexual violence and victimization. To help fill this knowledge gap and tackle sexual assault in these institutions, an in-depth analysis of rape myths, their impacts, and measures to eliminate them is necessary.

Rape Myths

Different myths surrounding rape, sexual violence, and the victims have been identified over the years. Studies reveal that the mythologies exist at both individual and societal levels and are a way of sexual violence justification. They have been accepted based on ideologies, demographic factors, and gender roles (Smith & Skinner, 2017). These misconceptions continuously blame the survivors of rape cases for their victimization. Researchers recognized and investigated three categories of such myths, as discussed below.

The most common myth is that women are the only victims of sexual violence. Most people consider rape to be an assault that is prone only to females. On the contrary, research carried out to investigate sexual assault in the military produced different findings. The study showed that leaders focused much on thousands of women who were victims of this violence. In contrast, most of the survivors were men who choose to remain silent, too humiliated to report (Phillips, 2019). Therefore, it should be noted that both male and female genders can be exposed to sexual violence.

Rapists are strangers. It is often believed that sexual violence perpetrators are outsiders who attack their victims unpredictably and without notice along dark corridors or alleys. However, research shows that most rape incidents are planned and premeditated decisions by someone well known to the victim (Napier, 2016). A rapist can be anyone, either a neighbor, a friend, or a relative. Besides, rapes do not always have to happen in the dark or secluded areas.

If a woman decided to fight, she could avoid being abused. This is a misconception since rape is a violent tool, and when fear comes in, people respond in different ways. Sexual violence offenders threaten their victims using death or harming their loved ones (Smith & Skinner, 2017). A survivor is overpowered emotionally and physically; thus, the decision to fight barely crosses their mind instantly. Other sexual assault myths are and are not limited to male offenders who did not intend to rape the victim but were sex-starved. Women carry the blame primarily due to their dressing codes, and women enjoy rape.

Impacts of Rape Myths

Criticism of victims. Sexual misconceptions have been used as a tool to place blames on survivors and condemn them, disregarding the role of fear in making decisions. According to Phillips (2019), highly ranked officers acted cynically when some male soldiers reported their sexual harassment experiences. They clung to their mythical belief that men were not subjects of rape. Similarly, female freedom has been blamed for positioning women where they can indirectly provoke sexual harassment, for instance, when they engage in flirtatious relations and take alcohol.

Causes emotional and psychological problems among survivors. Undergoing assault sexually has detrimental effects on a person. It has been related to shame, anger, depression, and low self-esteem (Bateman & Wathen, 2015). The victim may also have issues in romantic or family relationships due to the development of trust difficulties. Eventually, trauma arising from sexual harassment can lead to the emergence of violent behavior among individuals in an attempt to avoid a similar occurrence. Additionally, substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicidal ideas can arise.

Increased acts of sexual violence. Researchers claim that rape myths have increased the occurrence of sexual attacks due to the misconceptions promoting notions that the victim is to be blamed, and the perpetrator is defended. Other studies point out that people in society who accept the myths as real are likely to engage in sexual violence (Bateman & Wathen, 2015). The misconceptions also minimize awareness around humanity and the need to embrace it and protect each other in society.

Correcting Rape and Sexual Assault Myths

Enacting an open-minded attitude can be the first step to correcting these myths. Although they are deep-rooted among the people and are continuously passed to generations through acting a status quo, change can be induced in the society (Smith & Skinner, 2017). This approach considers it a collective responsibility to learn and educate about the facts surrounding sexual assaults rather than the myths. Respectfully, one can challenge another person’s views reflecting myth acceptance and, instead, introduce realities about the issue.

Use of professionals to handle rape and sexually abused survivors. This assists by providing psychological support and understanding what the victims are going through by using interactive sessions. Rates of emotional torture on them are high and should be given help to avoid further damage (Bateman & Wathen, 2015). The approach uses firsthand experience to outline the disadvantages of accepting the misconceptions. After the victim heals and gains back the previously lost self-esteem, they become advocators for change and the elimination of the myths.

Refresher courses of judges and prosecution lawyers can be essential in abolishing the sexual assaults myth, which is achieved by tabling realities about rape. The training is overseen by law experts who suggest that legal decisions should be followed in dealing with sex offenders (Bateman & Wathen, 2015). Judicial directives should be the most effective means to correct society’s misconceptions since they have the final orders of what to be used by the juries. Similarly, they can counter the stereotype protocols used in ruling rape trials.

Rape and Sexual Assault in Campus: West Texas A&M University (WTAMU)

Based on evidence obtained from resources, including a face-to-face interview, it is clear that WTAMU does not accept discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, color, gender, nationality, veteran status, or gender identity. This is in line with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any program. The campus provides for the students and faculty workers to report any sexual exploitation cases to their specified departments (West Texas A&M University, 2016). The procedure to be taken after sexual harassment starts by finding a safe location for seeking medical treatment, after which one can contract emergency response teams. Physical evidence is essential, which will be used later if one decides to pursue civil proceedings.

To protect students’ rights and keep neighboring communities’ safety, WTAMU, through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) brochure, has laid down measures to respond to sexual misconduct allegations. They are but are not limited to suspension as the investigation continues, file incident to local police or prosecutor, recommend an assistance program, and refer to counseling and medical care. These measures are best illustrated in an earlier case of alleged Assault on campus when a female student was sexually assaulted in a male dorm room (Ruiz, 2016). The first safety measure included informing the Police and Title IX.

In Summary of this report’s findings, it is essential to note that WTAMU does not participate in victim-blaming. The institution stands for the fact that the offenders of sexual abuse are solely responsible for their actions without transferring the blame to the victim. However, it offers the following guidelines towards minimizing the chances of sexual violence: people should define and maintain boundaries, alcohol consumption should be regulated as intoxication causes vulnerability and exposure (West Texas A&M University, 2016). Additionally, the campus advocates for distancing oneself from known physical aggressors.

It is correct to say that the campus cares and serves all its groupings reasonably. It has provided a conducive and safe environment for the staff to work effectively and the students as well. Similarly, through the VAWA program, students are equipped with tactics of reducing their vulnerability to sexual violence. Continuous campaigns also create awareness among learners and faculty members (West Texas A&M University, 2016). However, several trends and advanced practices have emerged, and higher education institutes have gradually incorporated the new culture. It is in line with this setting that has been criticized for its risk reduction for sexual violence policy. Its provision has been perceived to conform with the traditional myths and misconceptions of sexual harassment that rape victims place themselves in the position to be attacked sexually and could do better to avoid the situation. It is thus recommendable that the campus revises the policy provisions to serve the community better.

A face-to-face interview was conducted on rape and sexual assault in the institution. The campus advocate, UPD Officer Ferrara, helped respond to the questions raised. “I have been working in West Texas A&M University Police Department for a period of three years. During my stay, very few assault cases have been reported. The institution is very strict in compliance with sexual violence regulations, and strict measures are taken in case of abuse of the guidelines. That is why there are minimal, or no cases reported frequently” (Ferrara, Personal communication). The campus has an active platform that receives anonymous reports of rape if an individual is too shy to talk out about it due to fear of victimization or other reasons.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s exam Process and associated traumas

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s exam (SANE) is a rape kit used by registered nurses to gather data from the victims, which can be used in evidence compilation. When people experience sexual harassment, they have the option of undergoing a checkup even if they are undecided about taking a legal petition about the assault (Boskey, 2020). These results can also be used for treatment administration to reduce the risk of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies (Boskey, 2020). Those performing the scrutiny are professionals who have qualified skills on how to deal with the survivors of the incident.

The first step in the SANE exam is the treatment of injuries sustained if any. After that, this procedural approach requires the victim to begin by filling forms that authorize treatment for evidence to be obtained. According to Boskey (2020), the survivor is questioned about current medications, any existing medical problems, recent agreeable sexual intercourse, and the sexual assault’s happenings. It is essential to note that the questions are not compulsory, and the victim has a right to choose between answering them or not. However, they are important in determining if found evidence is unconnected to the harassment issue.

The next phase includes a physical checkup. Depending on the patients’ description of the events during the attack, an internal examination of their private parts may be necessary. Samples from their blood, urine and pubic hair are collected (Subramanian & Green, 2015). After gathering the evidence, material medical care is offered, and monitoring visits are planned. The kind of treatment provided is non-urgent, for instance, to protect the patient from illness transmitted through sexual activities and undesired pregnancies (Boskey, 2020). Additionally, psychological lessons are recommended to help deal with emotional damages.

However, to some extent, SANEs expose victims to trauma. In the examination step, an individual might take the questions asked to be personal, mostly the inquiries about recent sexual activity. They may think they are meant to stigmatize them based on their sex life (Subramanian & Green, 2015). Besides, the interviews were conducted to bring back deadly memories. The trained nurses who help rape victims in their recovery also experience devastating effects by witnessing the consequences of sexual violence. In response to the traumatic conditions, registered professionals should be responsible for taking care of the rape survivors, and refresher courses should be recommended periodically for them (Subramanian & Green, 2015). Victim confidentiality should be upheld so that they can feel safe when opening up about the incidences. Later, regular checkups on them are beneficial since they help prevent Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).

Steps to Design a Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign

Every year, 1st April marks the commencement of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. During this period, organizations and institutions hold educative programs about sexual violence, traditionally referred to as rape. The program normally is interactive and learning-based, where women and students are encouraged to participate. Activities involved could bring attention to the scholars about resources and tools available on campus and the community at large that can design campaigns against sexual violence. It is an approach that assists undergraduates to place themselves in a situation to make a difference on campus. For instance, they can adapt the steps below to develop such a campaign.

Determining campus objectives for participating in the campaign. Learners need to come up with what they aim to accomplish by holding awareness campaigns. Understanding the main purpose of the operation helps formulate the best plan to achieve it. Having a better consideration of the targeted audience aids in tailoring the goals (SAAM, 2016, p1). To identify the objectives, it is essential to focus on who will benefit from the project, how they will be impacted, and the kind of support the campus can provide.

Resource determination. Monetary resources and time allocated to the campaign are a must consideration since they will impact every aspect. Materials utilized in promotion, external programs, hired staff, and volunteers need to be considered in resource allocation (Fedina et al., 2016). Since the awareness campaign is an ongoing event in April, the campus needs to compute the estimated amount to be used and record it in the year’s budget. In addition, timelines for all planned events should be cautiously and realistically established to avoid the last-minute rush.

Action plan Formulation. A good campaign schedule outlines a successful layout of objectives, resources, and target audience. It is vital to be prepared to avoid burnout and misuse of the resources discussed above. In this stage, each activity involved is set out based on the questions: who, where, what, why, and when (Fedina et al., 2016). Who, summarizes people aspect; that is, members the campus hope to reach, staff, students, and the experts needed. Where covers the location of the awareness campaign and when states time and date of occurrence. What, describes actual activities of the event, and why ensures that programs in place by the campus accomplish the campaign’s set objectives.

Execution of the campaign plan. Implementation of the designed idea to hold a sexual assault awareness campaign is the ultimate goal of this process. During the campaign period, the campus must emphasize achieving the objectives laid down (SAAM, 2016, p5). It is acceptable for the campus to recognize that they are bound to encounter challenges throughout the operation. For instance, changes in the campaign strategy along the way and fatigue may arise among the audience. However, to meet these, the campus should ensure flexible plans that can quickly adapt to the variations and accept audience feedback. Collecting data will help evaluate how successful the campaign was and if the same method should be adopted for future use.

Conclusion

As revealed in the study, the topic of rape and sexual assault is broad and incorporates many approaches. It has presented a prevalence of male assault as well, despite people giving too much concentration on women’s harassment. A refutation of rape myths has been provided, stating their insignificance, and instead, facts about sexual assaults have been outlined. Application of SANE examination to victims of sexual violence has been recommended given it is used by professionals with the know-how to handle them. The study further commends sexual awareness campaigns that help educate society about sexual offenses and how to handle the victims. It provides steps to design campaign strategies, making awareness an ongoing activity rather than just practicing it in April, the sexual assault awareness month. Finally, concentrating on learning institutions, a study case of West Texas A&M University has appreciated the existence of restrictions against sexual harassment. Updates on policies to suit current advancement trends can increase the learning institutions’ service to the community at large.

References

Bateman, J. L., & Wathen, C. (2015). Understanding rape myths: A guide for counselors working with male survivors of sexual violence. American Counseling Association, Web. 

Boskey, E. (2020). What is a SANE exam? Dot dash. Web.

Fedina, L., Holmes, J. L., & Backes, B. (2016). How prevalent is campus sexual assault in the United States. National Institute of Justice, 277, 26-30.

Ferrara, Personal communication [face-to-face Communication] Napier, M. R. (2016). Interviewing the rapist. Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 123-137.

Phillips, D. (2019). Six men are speaking out to break the silence. The New York Times. Web.

Ruiz, T. (2016). Possible dorm room sexual assault under investigation at WTAMU. Web.

SAAM (2016). How to create a campaign. NSVRC. Web.

Smith, O & Skinner, T (2017). How rape myths are used and challenged in rape and sexual assault trials. Social& Legal Studies, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 441-466. Web.

Subramanian S. & Green J. S. (2015). The general approach and management of the patient who discloses a sexual assault. Missouri medicine, 112(3), 211.

West Texas A & M University (2016). Guide on sexual misconduct campus policies, procedures, and victim services for faculty, staff, and students. Web.

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