Sexual Assault, By Sarah Ullman Essays

Sexual Assault, By Sarah Ullman Essays

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Perpetrators, advocates, victims, families, the justice system and of course those accused of sexual violence all have strong opinions on the topic of intimate violence and sexual aggression. The feelings surrounding whether an act of violence occurred is usually a highly emotional topic and leads to discussion about whether the accused needs to face charges for the accusation. Many untruths, misunderstandings and plain bad information are circulated in society and seep into the unconscious (sometimes not) of many people. Myths and ideas are explored in this paper in an attempt to gauge the level of impact sexual violence has on its actors.
“If a girl initiates kissing or hooking up, she should not be surprised if a guy assumes she wants to have sex.” This damaging and powerful quote is from the Illinois Rape Myths Acceptance Scale (IRMA) by author Sarah Ullman. Ms. Ullman published in her book, Talking About Sexual Assault , a list of common myths surrounding rape. For many people it is hard to grasp how a woman can claim a man she has had sexual encounters with raped her. Sexual behavior viewed in part as “kissing” and “hooking up,” often lead to consensual sexual intercourse so to learn a woman has later claimed a raped happened after an encounter such as this, is hard for some to believe. It becomes the victim’s role of proving the violence happened by telling and retelling her account as many times as asked by the police, courts and her family. She can expect her testimony scrutinized at every level. The victim will be cast as unstable and a liar if she cannot retell her story the same way she did initially, and without the right level of emotional response “needed”, she is cast as unstable and a liar. If the claim of viole...

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...y go away because the impact sexual violence has on its actors have been around for decades. It is not easy to undo centuries of misinformation in even 20 years. Just as the belief that women are second to men continue to be a hot topic and evidenced in pay gaps in spite of equal education, so is the belief that women are asking to be raped by the way they dress, flirt or consume alcohol at parties then make-out with someone they hardly know. It helps none that Trent Franks; the U.S. Representative for Arizona has a platform from which to say a woman cannot become pregnant from a “legitimate rape”. Moreover, unfortunately so many others like him have a voice they use to spread more untruths. Education and positive reinforcements will need to continue to gain precedent and victims of violence and even reformed perpetrators will have to speak up to debunk these myths.

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