Dignity Essay, Research Paper
The recent events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado are symptomatic of a growing rate of violence and disrespect for human dignity. Violence among our young people has reached crisis proportion. Rape, another form of violence and aggression, is also on the rise.
Most women do not imagine that they will become a rape statistic. A growing concern in America today is that more and more woman do. While many imagine rape as a crime committed by a stranger, the fact is most women are raped by someone they know. Young women away from home for the fist time are particularly vulnerable.
A recent article in Ebony magazine recounts a young woman’s traumatic experience-a horrible memory she will carry for the rest of her life–the night she was date raped. She was victimized by a former boyfriend who wanted a last moment of their past relationship. They had recently broken up and although she was reluctant to see him again, “he pleaded with her to go out one last time” so they could end on good terms (The Truth 112). As he had always done in the past, he dropped by her dorm to pick her up. He said he had some things to talk about but instead of going out to a restaurant like they had discussed, he drove to a nearby motel. His excuse was that he just wanted to talk in a private area but as soon as they were inside the motel room he grabbed her and forced her to down and left her with a nightmare that would always remain in her memory. “For the next several hours he tore her clothes, beat her, tied her to the bed, and raped her repeatedly (112).” The next morning he finally untied her and threw himself down on her naked body and, while crying, begged her for forgiveness. The victim in this case felt ashamed and, instead of blaming her boyfriend, she faulted herself. Years later after realizing she was not the one to blame but instead a victim, she came forward and told her horrid story (112).
Like many rape victims, they do not come forward for many reasons including shame, embarrassment, and fear. Losing control and being violated causes feelings of degradation in many women victimized by rape. It has been proven that there are many reasons why young teenage girls are vulnerable to rape in this country. According to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics this situation is just getting overlooked and not surprisingly, worse. “A national survey of rape victims from the years 1972 to 1992, released by the Burearu showed that the cases of rape victims had gone up in girls ages twelve to fifteen,” (More Often 5) while the cases of rape victims among sixteen to nineteen year olds had gone down. Although these are results from a national survey, many counselors and others who work with adolescents believe that these figures are understated. We tend to think of children as abused victims when in fact many are victims of rape. It is an astonishing fact, but there are more victims of rape now than there ever were in the past. While many may think that older women suffer the abuse of sexual assault it has been determined that the highest rate is among teenagers, ages twelve to fifteen. There are emerging truths why young teens are more often victimized and there are several factors that put them at risk. It is true today that girls mature earlier than in the past causing them to grow up faster and experience things that were not even considered a generation ago. They also dress to look older and wear alluring clothing that creates attention from the opposite sex and may imply something that is not so. Additionally some of the more popular music which young teens listen to today, promotes and condones violence towards women. This type of aggressive anti-social behavior is often acted out by its listeners. It is also true that girls in their teenage years are risk-takers leaving them vulnerable. Now that there are more single parents and dual-income family units, children are often left unsupervised and open to more cases of rape and sexual assault (5).
It is no surprise when it is said that this type of case is on the rise today. With the low amounts of reportings, it is easier for the rapist to get away with his crime. The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault reported that one out of every five females are raped within their lifetime and that only sixteen percent of those cases are reported, only two percent of which are prosecuted. Anne Liske, a researcher of the coalition stated that, “20,911 rapes were reported in New York in 1996, but that the total was probably more than 139,000 (New York 6).” In order to prevent these heinous crimes, Liske also discussed how laws on prosecuting the rapist must be made easier for the victims. (6)
It is a fact that young teenagers are rising victims of rape. Sex play and sexual intercourse is a feature of dating behavior in high school students today. And while early experimentation with sex in high school often leads to more aggressive sexual encounters in college (Sexual coercion 447). Extensive research has documented the behavior of sexual means in undergraduate college students which have revealed a high rate of coerciveness existing in the everyday dating roles and situations of these young teens. These behaviors included unwanted touching and forced intercourse. “A review of twenty-three studies noted that thirty to seventy-eight percent of all college women had experienced unwanted sexual activity while on a date (447).”
These behaviors and cases reported by the victims are usually not their first experience of sexual assault. It has been found that abuse in a child’s early years “has been linked to numerous negative consequences in adulthood, including rape (Childhood 115).” In this study, Shelderic reports that women who were sexually abused as children were more likely to be candidates of rape than women that did not have any prior experiences of sexual abuse. Within more resent years a prospective study had documented that the high likelihood of sexual assault among college students demonstrated the increased vulnerability of women with a history of sexual abuse. Those college students who reported child or adolescent sexual abuse were more likely to be sexually victimized than those who did not have the same experiences. This finding is supported by the fact that the students had a clearly documented history of abuse from childhood. (115)
It is believed that there can be many negative childhood experiences that may lead to sexual assault in later adulthood. Studies have also shown that stress in early life leads to more stressful experiences later in life. Specific findings suggested that both dissociation and depression may act as mediators between early maltreatment and date rape. It was also hypothesized ” …that women college students who have experienced date rape will report more negative childhood experiences and will be more dissociative as well as more depressed.” These studies went on to report “?that women college students who had experienced date rape reported higher levels of dissociation, depression, and various other trauma symptoms than others who had not been raped (Childhood 115).”
It is an alarming commentary on our times and should be a national call for action. Date rape, child abuse, and a lack of respect for human dignity are symptoms of a sick society. If we as a nation and as a society do not deal with these issues on a “no tolerance” basis, then we are doomed. We can expect more dissociation and alienation which manifest themselves in these crimes of violence.
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