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David Lisak is Awesome Sauce

April 24, 2010

If you haven’t already, take a look at this video of psychologist David Lisak standing up for rape victims.  I don’t have too much else to say other than: David Lisak is my hero.  And, also, I want to emphasize this quote:

Somehow all we can do is take the statement from the victim, take the statement from the alleged perpetrator, and then throw up our hands because they’re saying conflicting things and we don’t know how to resolve this. That’s not how we investigate other crimes. You know, in almost any other circumstance, if we have an alleged perpetrator, we begin an investigation. And it doesn’t end with asking the alleged perpetrator whether or not they did the crime.

Because that’s what happened to me.  I was grilled and grilled and grilled about my rape, presumably to make sure that my story was the same each time I told it.  And yet, all they had to do was talk to my rapist, who claimed the sex was consensual.  I was then sent on my merry way.  No investigation, no further questions asked.  We can’t prosecute.  Not enough evidence.

Lisak makes a great point here.  In no other scenario do we simply tell victims, “Well, we’re sorry, but the guy says he didn’t do it!”

In fact, we sometimes are willing to presume that someone did something based strictly on their appearance, or the car they’re driving, or the part of town they’re driving in.  And in those cases, what the alleged perpetrator says he/she did or didn’t do doesn’t matter much at all!  So why are we so damned convinced that accused rapists are already telling the truth?  What do they have to do in order to be taken to task?  Hand themselves over, in handcuffs?  When we rape victims report a rape, we’re giving you the name of the goddamn perpetrator. All you have left to do is investigate the crime!  We’ve already handed you a NAME!  Because we KNOW THE GUY!  And yet, that’s still not enough.  Sorry, Lady.  He says he didn’t do it.  Better luck next time.

So thank you, David Lisak.  Thanks for being this rape survivor’s hero.  Thanks for believing me, implicitly.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. marybullstonecraft permalink*
    April 25, 2010 8:39 am

    This is *such* an important point. Approaching rape investigations as people typically do requires that we operate with the assumption that women are likely making the whole thing up, or at minimum, that women are not reliable witnesses to these kinds of crimes.

    And depressingly, this trend is really similarly repeated in domestic violence cases, and often results in even worse consequences. There is, of course, the obvious case where the perpetrator later kills or seriously injures his victim, but there are also many cases where the victimization by law enforcement is even more direct: where I live in Canada, for example, there’s a trend of police charging women who call 911 in DV cases, because, when they get there, the perpetrator shows them scratches or something (where the victim has tried to defend herself against his attacks), and denies that he really hit her. I know of one case here recently in which a woman was charged despite having BRUISES AROUND HER NECK because the police decided that they couldn’t be sure who was telling the truth about the violence–so they just arrested and charged them both.

    • April 25, 2010 4:08 pm

      YES. So many of my clients had this happen. They’d been arrested because their attacker had marks, and in DV cases, the police arrest the person with the visible injuries. And by the time the police get there, the abuser is calm and collected, and the women is frazzled and hysterical, and he says to the police, “I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I mean, LOOK at her! She’s crazy!” And she DOES look crazy, and he is cool as a cucumber, and so the police believe him.

  2. April 25, 2010 4:06 pm

    I didn’t report my rape. When I wrote about my rape on my blog, a commenter said (he has since deleted his comment) “you reported it, right? Because if you didn’t [something along the lines of if he rapes someone else it’s my fault because I didn’t report it].”

    WHY didn’t I report it? Because I didn’t have a case. The sex began consensually. He was an ex-boyfriend that I had just broken up with the week before. I was drunk. If I went to the police, I had no case. Because all of those things, in a victim blaming society, would be used to blame me for what happened, because he would obviously deny it.

    And so, I didn’t report what happened to me. When I read that piece (on The Sexist), I cried.


  1. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » linkspam: Why didn’t you call the police? Part One

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