There seems to be something inherent in society that makes it easier to believe lies, than to believe the truth. It is easier to believe a woman is hysterical, mental, jealous, unhinged or any other negative suggestion that diminishes her character than it is to believe a man is capable of abuse, sexual violence or rape.
My parents visited me recently. We were watching tv when a man who had been accused of sexual assault came on. They sat and spoke of how sad it was that this poor man’s life had been almost ruined by false allegations. Now, don’t get me wrong, falsely accusing someone of sexual assault is abhorrent, it ruins even more lives and makes it far harder for victims to speak up and, more importantly, to be believed. But I found myself getting very angry.
I don’t know anything about this particular case, but I asked my parents if the allegations had been proven to be false or just unproven? They didn’t know the answer. I asked them where the sympathy was for victims? I asked them how many times do they think an innocent person is accused falsely compared to how many times a victim is disbelieved or failed?
Then today, during a chat with a friend, she also spoke about watching programs about men that had been convicted of rape based on false allegations and how fascinating it was, and how shocking that women behave this way.
I have also been told that my husband ‘doesn’t seem the type’, and that I should keep these ‘deeply personal details to myself as it is inappropriate to share them’.
To stand up and say what has happened to you is such a huge step. To strip yourself down and reveal your shame to a stranger is humiliating, and whilst it isn’t really your shame, it feels like it is, you wear it like a scar you don’t want anyone to see.
I had thought reporting my rapes to the police would make things easier, that it would be a first step towards recovery. Sadly, I was wrong. I have been left feeling disbelieved, like it doesn’t matter.
I fear the additional power it gives my abuser. I fear people believing I falsely accused my husband for any one of the numerous negative reasons women are instantly suspected or accused of, rather than the cold hard fact it is the truth. I was raped by the man I trusted to protect and love me. I was raped by a man the world thinks ‘isn’t the type’. And this is exactly what makes these types of people so dangerous, to everyone, because you don’t see it coming.
The only way to tackle rape is to prosecute. The law needs to change to reflect the nature of the crime, and make more prosecutions possible.
I say it again:
Sex without consent is rape. But rape without punishment is consent.