All rape is real, and you are an idiot.
It is only a few days into 2017 and people in power are still making victim-blaming comments about sexual assault – and I am extremely angry about it.
The particular comments that have disgusted me to my core have come from the mouth of a New York Police Department captain, Peter Rose, who recently assaulted us with his unsolicited opinion that he feels rape perpetrated by people known to the victims isn’t as “troubling” as the kind instigated by a stranger.
“It’s not a trend we’re too worried about,” Rose kindly explained. “Out of 13, only two were true stranger rapes.”
The police captain’s vile comments were given in response to questions about an increase in sexual assaults in a certain precinct in Brooklyn. There were 13 rapes and attempted rapes reported to the NYPD for that precinct in 2016, up from eight in 2015; and of the 13 reported, only three arrests actually made.
Continuing to dig himself into a hole, he then elaborated on why acquaintance rape isn’t really a big deal.
“They’re not total abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets…If there’s a true stranger rape, where a random guy picks up a stranger off the street, those are the troubling ones,” he continued.
“That person has, like, no moral standards.”
Well, captain, I have some news for you. Every rapist has no moral standards. It doesn’t matter if they are targeting a complete stranger on the street or someone they know intimately. Someone who thinks it’s okay to sexually assault someone and violate them in such an acute way has no ethical compass.
I’ll also help you out with some statistics, which, as a man who works in law enforcement, you should already know.
Seven out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, which is a pretty ‘troubling’ statistic in my opinion.
So, captain, your assessment that you shouldn’t be too concerned with the rapes you haven’t made arrests for in 2016 because they weren’t somehow severe enough by your warped standards, is wrong, and would seem to suggest that i is in fact you has no moral standards.
Your opinion that only sex crimes committed by strangers on the street are legitimate, just works to keep intimate partner sexual violence and larger rape culture in the dark, perpetuating the already intense stigma and confusion surrounding sexual consent. Rape, by its very nature, results in psychological trauma, regardless of who commits it. It is a physical, emotional and moral violation in the most intimate way, whether it happens on the street, in a bar, or in a home, and the trauma can last forever.
So many victims of rape and sexual assault don’t come forward and report their attacks because they are terrified they will have to speak to a police officer like you – someone who will diminish their assault, their trauma, and their pain.
Police officers like you are the very reason I didn’t go to the police when my ex-boyfriend raped me. I was too scared I would be told what happened to me wasn’t serious, or didn’t constitute a true crime, because I had consented to sex with him in the past, so wondered whether perhaps that gave him a free pass to take me whenever he felt the urge.
But I will stand up and tell you now, that my assault was extremely troubling. I am still suffering PTSD symptoms and battling depression more than two years later. I had to have intense therapy. I am still in trauma. Just because it happened in my own home doesn’t give you the right to dismiss what happened to me as not real enough for you to be particularly concerned about.
It is people like you who are the reason rapists like Brock Turner get lenient sentences for assaulting women. It is people like you who help perpetuate the myths, prejudice and stigma associated with rape that advocates, victims, feminists and decent people work so hard to dispel.
My heart hurts for the victims of sexual assault in your precinct. I hope your careless comments will not discourage any of them from coming forward and reporting their assaults.
You have since issued an apology for your comments, saying you regret them and they don’t accurately represent how you really feel, but I fear the damage is done. When I read your words, I felt sick. I was triggered. I began shaking at my desk, desperately trying to hide my visceral reaction from my colleagues – and many other survivors of assault would have reacted the same.
I hope you know, now, what words can do, and why a person in a position of power such as yourself should not believe or say what you did. It is 2017, and it is time law enforcement learned how to talk about sexual crimes in a way that both protects victims and validates the very troubling experiences they’ve undergone.
Images via giphy.com, tenor.com.
Comment: What are your opinions on the police officers comments?