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Rape: confronting the myths & responding to the realities Eileen Maitland Rape Crisis Scotland 0141 331 4181

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Presentation on theme: "Rape: confronting the myths & responding to the realities Eileen Maitland Rape Crisis Scotland 0141 331 4181"— Presentation transcript:

1 Rape: confronting the myths & responding to the realities Eileen Maitland Rape Crisis Scotland 0141 331 4181

2 Intro to Rape Crisis Scotland Established 2003 as national office for rape crisis movement in Scotland Works to: raise awareness of sexual violence; improve services for women experiencing such violence; support work of local centres 13 member rape crisis services operating across Scotland Launched national rape crisis helpline in October 2007 to offer initial support, info and signposting to anyone affected by sexual violence; open daily 6pm - midnight

3 Prevalence of rape & sexual assault Scottish Government statistics 2010-2011 Reported rapes & attempted rapes: 1131 (14% increase on 2009/10) [Source: ] British Crime Survey 2000 estimated between 1 in 5 and 1 in 8 women report to the police NSPCC survey, 2009 a third of teenage girls in a relationship suffer an unwanted sexual act

4 Clients supported between 1 st April 2010 & 31 March 2011 = 1,439 Prevalence: RCS Centre statistics

5 RCS Centre stats: Locality

6 RCS Centre stats: Calls & Appointments Calls to centres 2010 to 2011 = 12,418

7 Reactions to rape & sexual assault Shock Feelings of powerlessness, feeling out of control Fear, nightmares and sleeplessness Feelings of shame and guilt A need to carry on as if nothing has happened Anger Depression Panic attacks Flashbacks Eating problems Self-injury Abuse of drugs, alcohol etc Changes in relationships

8 Myths & misconceptions about sexual violence Myth: Rape generally is carried out by a stranger, with significant additional violence involved Fact:Most rapes are carried out by men known to the woman. Around 54% of rapes are carried out by partners/former partners. Only 17% were by strangers (British Crime Survey 2004) Myth:Women will be hysterical immediately after an attack Fact:Some women are. However, for other women their reactions can be counter-intuitive in that they may appear very calm (controlled reaction to shock) Myth: Women frequently make malicious allegations of rape Fact:There is no evidence that false reports of rape are any higher than for any other crime

9 Myths & misconceptions Myth:If women don’t struggle during a rape, they can’t really mind what is happening Fact:While some women do employ verbal (shouting/screaming) or physical (fighting/kicking) strategies during an attack, many women talk about freezing and being unable to move or scream. This is a natural reaction to a traumatic event. Myth:Some women lead men on by dressing or behaving provocatively and have only themselves to blame if things go further than they wanted Fact:This is based on the notion that men have uncontrollable sexual urges, which are provoked by women’s behaviour. Men can and do control their sexual behaviour, as women do. [Videoclip]

10 Key tips for supporting survivors Give survivors as much control as possible of the conversation Must be survivor’s decision about how much detail they go into Do not judge or blame – don’t dismiss mixed feelings or feelings of self-blame, but be clear – the perpetrator is always the only person responsible Reassure survivors that they are having a natural and normal reaction to a traumatic experience – no set time to come to terms with this.

11 Key tips for supporting survivors Don’t tell survivors what to do e.g. around whether to report – it should always be the survivor’s decision Be clear about what you can offer – and be consistent about this Show empathy but resist temptation to “be her friend”, to be pitying or patronising, or say you know how she feels – you don’t Don’t rush her; silence is ok Listening to survivors can be traumatic. It’s important that you protect yourself emotionally and you get support too. It’s natural to feel worried about doing or saying something wrong, but it’s ok not to know everything! Just say you’ll find out. If you are able to give a survivor a safe space to talk, if you really listen to what she is saying, and if you don’t judge either what she did during the sexual assault/abuse or the way she has coped with it afterwards – you will be making a big difference.

12 Public attitudes Scottish Government research (2010) 23% of people think a woman can be at least partly responsible if she is drunk at the time of the attack 17% thought a woman bore some responsibility if she wore revealing clothing 15% say there should be some burden of responsibility if a woman is flirting 8% think rape can be a woman’s fault if she is known to have had many sexual partners The Havens “Wake Up To Rape” Report (2010) Revealed widespread attitudes blaming women for rape - of over 1000 people interviewed more than half held victims responsible in some circs e.g. 28% of these people included “provocative” dress as an instance where women to some extent responsible Amnesty research (2005): over a third of people believe a woman is totally or partially responsible for being raped if she has behaved in a ‘flirtatious’ manner 28% believe she is totally or partially responsible if she is drunk 27% believe she is totally or partially responsible if she is wearing ‘sexy or revealing’ clothing 25% believe she is totally or partially responsible if she has had many sexual partners Zero Tolerance research (1998) 1 in 2 boys and 1 in 3 girls thought it was acceptable for a man to hit a woman or force her to have sex in certain circumstances

13 What impact does this have? Reinforces woman’s own negative feelings towards herself Can deter women from seeking help / reporting to the police due to fear of the attitudes she will encounter Members of juries are likely to hold attitudes which hold women responsible for being raped

14 The role of campaigning Clear that legislative and other changes to the justice system not enough in isolation Challenging woman-blaming attitudes is crucial This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me & Not Ever




18 Smaller campaigns Can be very effective Quick & cheap to develop Can be greatly extended/enhanced by social networking Can be taken forward by others locally

19 Pie Chart * Simple & effective * Adapted from a breastfeeding campaign posted to “I Love Charts” [] * Designed in-house * Produced at minimal cost


21 10 Top Tips Change focus to potential perpetrators Expose futility of constantly targeting women in efforts to stop sexual violence Fresh approach both visually & in tone Text had circulated in various versions on the web Rodchenko agitprop image (adapted) to communicate call to action




25 Reactions “I think it is disgraceful and your vile posters should be banned. And I should maybe now go and remind my boyfriend not to rape someone if he is sharing a lift with them!” “The image on the front is reminiscent of the suffragettes during the war, yet the wording is trying to be modern and quirky! We can see that, perhaps, your male audience might find them more interesting than a leaflet that is preaching to them, but we don’t think that these postcards will have the desired effect that you are looking for.” “I must tell you these have caused quite a reaction here - everyone I have showed them to is talking about them, which is a good thing as it raises awareness and generates discussion.”

26 Reactions (ctd.) “We love the new "Stop Rape" retro-style poster - that bitterly-sarcastic writing is so great, the other campaigns targeted at perpetrators were too soft and it was too easy to come up with excuses why it wouldn't apply, the humorous way circumvents this so perfectly…” “Great to see a focus on men's rather than women's behaviour” “That campaigns great!!! So effective!! I'll put pictures of it on my facebook page.”

27 Next steps Build on success of existing campaigns Investigate new media/platforms for delivering campaigning messages Develop themes & scenarios already created New themes Working in partnership with other agencies e.g. police, education

28 Contact Web: Email: Facebook: Twitter: @rapecrisisscot Phone: 0141 331 4180

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