Did you never tell about being raped or attempted rape/ assault? Tell your story now.
I got an email from my daughter which I want to put in my blog. It about the Vavi case of being accused of rape. Also it asks people to give their stories of why they did not report rape or some form of sexual harassment ever or otherwise only much later. I feel it is such an important thing to do and will help our understanding of rape and how it is perpetuated.
So if you have a story, or if you don’t, read this – and take up your mighty pen and join the mighty wave which has to eventually wipe out the scourge of rape...
Please if you have never told get help to tell. And don't be afraid of going to get therapy. One cannot 'get over' rape but one can, with help, process it and find some peace.
See below, something we were sent by Michelle Solomon, a gender based violence activist on campus. It puts into words the other element to how I feel about the Vavi case. I mean, on the one hand, if she's crying wolf to to bribe him (and that's kind of how it seems), then that just further feeds the mistrust of womyn, and sexual violence victims in general idea, and makes it harder for these things to be reported. On the other hands though, reporting rape is very far from easy in this patriarchal society. There are many reasons that might make a rape survivor not report it immediately (or at all), or go through less formal procedures than the courts, or withdraw an allegation because it's too difficult. So I'm wary of being too quick to dismiss her allegations in my mind. And I'm also aware of what this case does for that image of sexual assault victims - because it does seem like she was crying wolf, it makes it so much easier for people to say "oh, but she would have reported it earlier if it was real", or "why else would she withdraw the allegation?" I've seen statements like that in the news, and they just perpetuate patriarchal misconceptions and disempowering lies, don't they?
Anyway, just thought it might interest you. I think Michelle Solomon is touching on a number of important things, without really declaring whether or not she believes the womyn. The issues are bigger than that, which is why this case may be so damaging. It's so easy to simplify these things and leave things out in the process.
From: Michelle Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Subject: [silent] Why I didn't report my experience of sexual violence [TRIGGER WARNING]
Rape myths abound after the Vavi rape accusation was brought to light. These myths hurt all rape survivors – and if you ever experience sexual violence, these myths will hurt you too. The most common myth I’ve seen is the fallacy that if you don’t report to the police, it didn’t happen.
I know it is difficult for many survivors to put their feelings into words, but if you can, please help me show South Africans that it’s not that easy to report in a patriarchal society bent on protecting a rape culture. Please send me your story about why you didn't report, or if you did, the victimisation you experienced. I would like to show South Africans how badly we are often treated - perhaps then we can expect more empathy and compassion.
If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please email me: email@example.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.
Gender-based violence and rape survivor rights activist
Journalist and researcher
Eastern Cape, South Africa
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