As I mentioned in part 1, the Indiana General Assembly’s Criminal Law & Sentencing Policy Study Committee received a variety of testimony at its October 31, 2013, meeting. Rep. Hale reported that, according to the Center for Disease Control, one in six girls in Indiana has been raped or sexually assaulted. Rep. Hale further indicated that the number is actually higher because crimes are under-reported. According to federal data, Indiana is the second worst state in the nation for rape and sexual assault against high school aged girls.
There were several witnesses. The first recounted an incident when she was in high school where she was making out with a guy in the front seat of a car, voluntarily got into the back seat of the car, but was ignored by the guy when she screamed “No! Please Stop!”
She says she didn’t report the rape because she thought she would be blamed because of the way it started out with an innocent make-out session in the front seat of a car.
“It kinda leads to the, you know, the self-blame, the self-doubt. Why did I put myself in that situation that’s so often confirmed by society. So I was asked to get in the back seat. And at that point I was fine with what was going to happen. At the moment that he began to have sex with me, I remember screaming, ‘No! Please stop!'” Crosby said.
Crosby says after dealing with a mother in denial about the rape and an ER doctor who didn’t seem interested, she just shut up.
Dr. Hibbard, a pediatrician at Riley’s Children’s Hospital, testified that kids often don’t know they have been assaulted or, if they do, blame themselves. They are also afraid of the intrusive nature of a subsequent investigation if they do report the incident.
In response to a question from Senator Young concerning mandatory reporting, Dr. Hibbard testified that reporting is complicated because a child who is 14 or 15 year old and who has had consensual sexual intercourse may or may not be the victim of abuse or neglect, depending on the age of the child’s partner. In addition, if a child does not perceive that the sexual contact is a crime, the child will not report it.
Anita Carpenter of the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault testified that sexual assault education is the most important step for improving reporting; and that schools should provide this education. Dr. Parrish-Sprowl, a professor at IUPUI said that a study should be conducted that determines how much underreporting actually occurs. He anticipates that a study such as the one he has in mind would cost about $50,000 – $60,000.
An article (pdf) by Katie Cierniak, Julia R. Heiman, and Jonathan A. Plucker, published in January 2012, contains additional information about the data.
The CDC recently (December 2011) released U.S. data on the prevalence of sexual violence nationwide, in their National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. This survey estimates that approximately 1 in 5 women in Indiana have been victims of rape at some point within their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). Furthermore, a 2009 survey indicates that females in 9th -12th grades in Indiana have the second highest rate in the nation of forced sexual intercourse (CDC, 2010).
. . .
In the survey, rape is defined as “any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
Types of rape were broken up into three categories: completed forced penetration was reported by 12.3% of women; attempted forced penetration by 5%; and alcohol and drug facilitated rape reported by 8%. For women, rapes are typically perpetrated by current or former spouses or boyfriends and typically happen when they are young: 42% prior to the age of 18 and 80% prior to the age of 25. College women appear to be especially vulnerable. Among males, rape statistics are much lower, but boys who are assaulted are likely to be assaulted at a much younger age and, males in general are less likely to report rape.
On Rep. Hale’s Facebook entry on the subject, Steph Mineart had a good suggestion:
Can we gather some evidence about who is committing these crimes? We know a lot of the statistics about the girls who are victims. They must be talking about who the perpetrators are, right? Can we get a window into that data? Having profiles and data about the perpetrators would go a long way towards getting them off the streets and into jails where they belong, or at least educating them properly about how not to be criminals. It seems to me that directly addressing them as the problem instead of dancing around the issue talking about sex education would help a lot.
The article by Cierniak, et al, says that studies have attempted to identify characteristics of perpetrators, but I did not see much information about those characteristics in the paper. About all I could discern was that the perpetrators were known to their victims. I share the desire to know more about the perpetrators because I think that would really help to make the situation less foreign to me. My frame of reference is that of an adult white male. The closest I ever got to sexual assault was a teenage acquaintance who was a little too interested in waving his penis around when he was with a group of guys. So, I have a tough time imagining the internal narrative of a guy who decides it’s o.k. to pressure a girl into sex or rape her. I doubt it’s as simple as a two dimensional villain who just wants to get off and doesn’t give a shit about who gets hurt in the process. But, maybe it is. And I wonder if it’s a wide spectrum of guys committing the rapes or is it a relatively narrow group of guys who, for some reason, get around a lot. Teaching guys that these internal narratives, whatever they are, are not acceptable would be helpful. Identifying the techniques these guys (if it’s a narrow spectrum) use to get around so they can be counteracted would be helpful.
As a father of both a boy and a girl who aren’t that far off from being teens, this sort of information horrifies me. Teaching the boy not to be a rapist is relatively straight forward. Teaching the girl how to avoid rapists is more of a mystery to me.