Death is said to be the greatest fear of the average person. I must not be average, then, because if someone held a gun to my head and tried to rape me, I would gladly take the bullet. Growing up, one of the nuggets of wisdom I received was to relax during a rape. If you fight back, you could die. If you just let it happen, you’ll live. That’s what’s most important, right? Well, I feel like that would work as well as ignoring my bullies worked. It wouldn’t.
Of course, I have no real idea what I’m talking about. I know rape most commonly happens without the involvement of drunks, during the day time, by someone close to the victim and at a location near the victims home. I know 1 in 4 women in America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 1 in 6 will be the victim of attempted or completed rape. I also know that 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 1 in 33 will be the victims of attempted or completed rape. What those numbers fail to tell me is how to survive rape. They don’t tell me if fighting back against one’s rapist increases your chances for survival. They don’t tell me if trying to relax and suffer through a rape makes the case of rape harder to prosecute in a court of law (although, let’s be honest, rape is already incredibly hard to prosecute).
I admit, saying I’d rather die than be raped is probably an ignorant statement. I have friend who were raped and, if asked, I’m sure they’d say they are happy to be alive. When it comes to something as devastating as rape, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to ask questions. The women I know who were raped never tried their rapist in a court of law. I never asked if they fought back or not.
Someone reading this is already questioning the credibility of my friends stories because they didn’t seek legal action against their rapist. That could fill many blog posts, but let me leave it at this. When your rapist is a boyfriend, whom you still love, what jury would believe you? If you are sexually active, especially if you have consented to sexual activity with your rapist in the past, what jury would believe you? If you followed the advice in the text books (I went to Catholic school. I know about ‘second virginity’ and I read the section on trying to relax and suffer through for your own survival instead of fighting back), what jury would believe you? There are many reasons why victims don’t prosecute their rapist. I’m not going to say I agree with those decisions all the time, but that’s simply not my decision to make.
Perhaps my desire to choose death over rape is my overly dramatic way of saying I would fight back. Threatened with any weapon, I would fight back. If I fight back and die, no one will question my rapist and murderer was anything but wrong. What a girl is wearing has been used as an excuse for rape, but I’ve never heard someone try to argue a person deserved to be murdered because they showed too much skin. The other option, though, is that I live. I live with the scars and wounds of my struggle, making it much harder (but unfortunately not impossible) for someone to claim I ‘wanted it.’
Fighting back also holds the possibility of victory, of escaping my would-be rapist before they rape me. Nothing else but fighting back carries that possibility. That, more than anything else is why I hold this opinion. I’d much rather fight back with all my might, knowing I did everything I could to save myself, than give in and wonder if I someone secretly did want it.
I would actually really like to see some numbers comparing rape (or attempted rape) victims who fought back versus those who didn’t. Does fighting back increase your chances of dying or does it increase your chances of escaping. Does trying to suffering through it for your own survival hurt the victim’s case in court?
Without having answers to these questions, who knows what the right course of action is? Maybe someone reading this can tell me if there is any statistically significant difference between people who fight off their rapists and people who don’t. If someone can actually prove to me that fighting back increases your chances of getting killed, maybe I might reconsider. Until then, what little experience I have with power-hungry bullies tells me that fighting back is a far better idea then closing your eyes and suffering through.
Just like on the playground, fighting back doesn’t guarantee you won’t get hurt. It doesn’t guarantee you will be victorious over your bullies. However, suffering through, rolling with the punches, does guarantee you will get punched.
Which do you fear more, death or rape? If someone tried to sexually assault you or rape you, would you fight back? Do you have answers to the questions I ask? Do you think fighting back against a rapist is a better idea than relaxing and suffering through?
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