sexual controllers are not interested in the needs of their victims

The abuser’s sexual and power needs, as he envisages them, are all important, and the needs of the victim are sidelined. Sometimes victims are forced to watch pornography as a pretext for learning sexual practices to satisfy the abusers’ ‘needs’. Abusers sometimes force victims to become involved in pornographic videos for commercial purposes. Some abusers compromise women’s sexual health and contraceptive choices by engaging in unsafe sexual practices or insisting the victim undergo an abortion. I have spoken with several young women who unexpectedly found themselves pregnant, and, in a state of confusion, were hurried by their abusers for abortions in England, before they could consider their own wishes.
While all sexual abuse is degrading and demoralising, rape is particularly debasing and extremely traumatic. The violence of the assault sometimes immobilises the victims, robbing them of the strength to resist or to flee, as, helpless and terrified, they submit to the torture inflicted on their bodies. In ancient times, this crime incurred more serious penalties than those imposed today. Once, it was a capital crime, and in medieval England the victim was given the option of gouging out the eyes of the perpetrator or of severing his testicles. Long ago, when women were considered chattels, it was perceived as a serious property crime against the man to whom the victim ‘belonged’. The female victim was treated as ‘damaged goods’, and the rapist was forced to pay compensation to her family.
Rape is endemic and global. People who suffer rape come from all age groups and all social backgrounds. It is estimated that almost 200,000 people were raped or sexually assaulted in the US in 2005, and 99% of the perpetrators were male. Only 26% of the perpetrators were strangers. In almost half of the incidents, both the perpetrator and the victim had been drinking. Rape is under-reported and under-convicted, and more than 50% of US rapes went unreported to law enforcement. In 2006, 85,000 people were raped in the UK, but only 800 perpetrators were convicted. A similar failure to secure convictions occurs around the world.
There are equally alarming statistics in relation to mass rape. War rape, now recognised as a crime against humanity, goes back to antiquity. However, it has also been a feature of modern conflicts such as the Second World War and other wars. German soldiers raped hundreds of thousands of Russian women following the invasion of Russia, and Soviet troops responded with equally ferocious retaliation against German women towards the end of the war. The Japanese were guilty of mass rape, especially in China, and millions of women were raped during civil wars in Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Columbia, Guatemala, Rwanda, and so on. Remember, however, that mass rape is as much an act of power and control, as any other type of rape. The Germans used it as an act of entitlement and power over a supposedly inferior race, and the Russians retaliated by throwing it into the mix of military power.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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