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About the Author
Jody Raphael, JD, is an attorney and a nationally known researcher, lecturer, and advocate on issues of violence against women. She is the author of Freeing Tammy: Women, Drugs, and Incarceration; Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution; and Saving Bernice: Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty.
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Rape is Rape
How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis
By Jody Raphael
Chicago Review Press IncorporatedCopyright © 2013 Jo Ann Raphael
All rights reserved.
Accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn
On May 14, 2011, Nafissatou Diallo, a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York, a luxury Manhattan hotel, reported to security that she had been sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and potential French presidential candidate. Her account, which she later gave to the New York Police Department, was simple and straightforward. Thinking the room was unoccupied, she entered the suite to perform her housekeeping duties, only to find Strauss-Kahn emerging naked from the bedroom. Diallo told investigators that, after closing the door to the suite, Strauss-Kahn pulled her into the bedroom, pushed her onto the bed, and attempted to forcibly insert his penis into her mouth, which caused his penis to make contact with her closed lips. Then, she said, he pushed her down a narrow hallway. He pulled up her uniform, partially rolled down her stockings, reached under her panties, and grabbed the outside of her vaginal area forcefully. He then physically compelled her to her knees, forcibly inserted his penis into her mouth, held her head, and ejaculated. This sexual act occurred at the end of the suite's interior hallway, near the suite's full bathroom. The housekeeper said that she spat his semen onto the suite's interior hallway carpet and continued to do so as she fled from the suite.
Her statements implied that the encounter lasted only a short period of time. Further investigation revealed that Diallo entered Strauss-Kahn's suite by keycard at 12:06 PM. Telephone records revealed that Strauss-Kahn called his daughter, with whom he later lunched, at 12:13 PM. Thus the encounter probably lasted only seven to nine minutes.
Police detectives tracked Strauss-Kahn to an Air France flight scheduled to depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Europe. They asked him to disembark, and he was taken into custody. The housekeeper later identified him in a police lineup. Preliminary results from DNA testing established that several stains on her dress contained Strauss-Kahn's semen and that his DNA was found on both the interior and exterior waistband of her panty hose and the waistband of her underwear. But the DNA evidence would not prove dispositive, because Strauss-Kahn admitted to a sexual act that he claimed was consensual. Medical personnel who examined the young woman noted no visible injuries but did find "redness" in the vaginal area, which could have been attributed to the incident but could also have been due to a host of other causes.
Strauss-Kahn appeared in court and was held without bail pending a grand jury investigation. On May 19, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Strauss-Kahn on seven criminal counts, two of which were first-degree criminal sexual acts. Eventually Strauss-Kahn posted bail — $1 million in cash and a $5 million bond. He was confined to twenty-four-hour home detention and made to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.
The story quickly became a media sensation. One French media analyst found that in the first ten days of the scandal it appeared on the front page of more than 150,000 newspapers around the world.
Subsequently, a young French reporter stepped forward to report that Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape her during a 2002 interview but that her mother had dissuaded her from filing a criminal complaint. Now she had decided to contact the authorities.
Riley is a relative of Richard, a colleague at my university. He heard me speaking about rape and approached me to tell me Riley's experiences. Then he asked if I would like to speak with her the next time she came to Chicago for the holidays. Knowing that many women are not comfortable talking about this subject, I jumped at the chance to hear her account and learn more about acquaintance rape.
Riley's scenario is one in which her date, Luke, exploited her extreme weaknesses (which is something rapists look for when marking their victims for attack, many people believe). Riley has cystic fibrosis, an inherited, fatal disease that causes mucus buildup in the lungs, trachea, and sinuses, blocking the airways and providing a fertile field for bacteria growth. The mucus also impairs the cilia critical to cleaning the airways; on average, individuals with cystic fibrosis lose 2 percent of their lung function each year, a development that drastically shortens their lifespan. Cystic fibrosis also drastically affects the digestive system; the body is unable to break down food on its own, which causes malabsorption and malnutrition. This state can lead to pancreatic insufficiency and diabetes. People also become deficient in vitamin D, which results in bone weakness.
When Riley met Luke, her health was increasingly precarious. Riley describes the course of treatment that began a few months before:
Due to coughing up blood and difficulty breathing, my doctors started me on a strict, permanent regimen that I am still on to this day. First, they started me on more oral antibiotics to take daily. They also prescribed inhaled antibiotics, which I had to inhale twice daily for thirty minutes. This was inhaled using a nebulizer, and after inhalation I have to thoroughly clean the machine and parts to be sure no bacteria or mold infected the parts that I breathed through. I was also put on an airway-clearance vest for my chest. It is literally a vest that I strap on to my chest, and it pulsates and vibrates my chest to get me to cough up mucus. I do that for twenty minutes twice daily as well, in the morning and at night, like the inhaled antibiotics. I was on many oral medications and an inhaler throughout the day. I was also doing sinus rinses at the time to try to clear up infection in my sinuses. I would have to squirt one cup of saltwater up each nostril twice a day. And at night I took a drink/mix medication for my digestion, because cystic fibrosis clogs the digestive system and I can't digest food on my own. I also had to exercise daily to try to get myself to cough up more mucus and exercise my lungs as much as possible to keep them as clear as possible.
The introduction to Luke came from Riley's mother, who was employed by the university and met Luke on campus. Luke told her he had just moved from California, and he complained about the lack of success he was having with dating — all the girls just wanted to drink and have sex. Riley's mother thought Luke would be perfect for one of her three daughters. It later turned out that everything Luke said was a lie; he might have lived in California, but he moved from there when he was five years old and had been in the college town for almost twenty years. Nor did his family own a house on the California beach he was always talking about.
At age twenty, Riley, a junior at the university, had not had a great many sexual partners, and she had just broken up with her first serious boyfriend of two years. It could be said that Riley was a young lady on a mission: given her health problems, she wasn't sure she would have the opportunity to become a mother unless she met someone soon. So she was interested in dating seriously and not in having flings, hoping to meet a young man who was similarly inclined.
Riley took the initiative to e-mail Luke, and the two embarked on a lively email exchange. Soon, the e-mails led to telephone calls. She revealed her disability and her upcoming foot surgery, which could have presented a medical risk due to her poor lung function.
He knew that I needed to take medications; he knew that I was on breathing medicine; he knew that it affected me. He was going to take me to the surgery and take care of me afterwards. He was going to whisk me away to California to his beach house.
The first date began when Luke came over to Riley's dorm. Later that night, she consented to go to Luke's place to watch a movie, which she brought.
I agreed to go to the house because trust was established. I had felt a chemistry, a fake chemistry obviously, and I think that was where Luke saw the vulnerability. But for me, I was going there because I felt trust and felt things were going well.
As the movie began, Luke started kissing Riley. She didn't mind kissing a boy on the first date, but that was going to be it, as far as she was concerned.
I was attracted to him at first, but I was not interested in rushing, and I was not interested in doing anything on the first date. I remember thinking, I don't want to allow anything other than kissing to happen. If I date someone, I want it to be right and take it slow.
But progressively things got worse. It was like a switch had gone off, and he started becoming very forceful. He forced oral sex on me, then forced me to perform oral sex on him. I was physically dominated; I was incapable of moving. And then he forced vaginal sex.
Although Riley was screaming and crying, saying, "No, no," Luke's roommate didn't seem to hear.
I looked him in the eyes and told him, "No." I nonverbally communicated "no" by using my arms, legs, and whole body to try and push him away from me. All the while that he is forcing sex upon me, I was wondering, How does his roommate not hear me saying "no" or getting upset?
I felt I couldn't breathe the whole time I was there. I was in shock. I had brought it up that I had cystic fibrosis. He knew about that before I went to his place. When he was forcing me to give him oral sex, he was straddled on my chest, putting compression on my chest. Literally, I couldn't get much air.
But Luke still hadn't ejaculated. Riley was confused by that. By the time he first penetrated Riley vaginally, she was totally fatigued.
I couldn't struggle anymore physically. I was exhausted. I had to give up almost; I was so tired from the fighting. I don't know what he is going to do, but he is some animal, and he is not going to quit until he gets what he wants or something.
In order to be able to survive, I need to leave this mentally. At the time I thought, I have tried physically to resist this. I'm exhausted. I need to quit resisting to survive. But that ended up not being the case, because that wasn't what he wanted. I didn't know that.
For when she stopped fighting back, Luke became flaccid and could not complete the sex act. This development was odd to Riley; it was also dispiriting, for she hoped to escape once he achieved orgasm. But the force was what excited Luke.
So Riley had to disassociate.
Your mind leaves your body, has to go somewhere else to be able to survive. It was an instinct. I didn't know I was doing it; it just started to happen. In order to be able to survive, I need to leave this mentally.
Screaming and crying, Riley got up. She began throwing on her clothes and said she had to go back to her dorm to get her medicine. Luke followed her as she went downstairs.
There was a couch right by the front door, and he shoved me over the couch and took my clothes off again and forced vaginal sex, and this time he ejaculated. During the intercourse, he told me he loved me, which was so demented to me.
While he was forcing himself on Riley, Luke continued what Riley calls his mind games, which were possibly calculated to cause confusion about his motives when Riley would later think back on the evening.
He kept saying, "This night has gone so well, and you are ruining it now. You're ruining our connection. We could have had such a good future, and you're ruining it. I really feel strongly for you, so sex should be the natural thing." He was saying things like, "In the winter time, I am going to take you to my place in California." And he said, "I'll take care of you. I'll be the boyfriend that you want me to be — however you want me to be, I'll be that for you." So demented.
After Luke's ejaculation, Riley saw that she could finally attempt an escape. Luke let her go, but he again tried to confuse her about what had just occurred.
He was sitting there; he looked tired and satisfied. "OK, go. I knew you would be mad at me — don't be mad at me. I knew you would leave me, but don't be mad at me." He was manipulating me not to go to the police.
It turned out to be a six-hour ordeal that seemed even longer — endless, in fact. Neither had ingested alcohol or drugs. Riley feared for her life the whole time.
I thought, I have to do something — this is very serious. I felt like I couldn't breathe the whole time I was there.
It was torture. I would rather get shot than be tortured like that. When you see the look in the person's eyes when he is doing the act itself, it doesn't even feel like you are human. The look: eye-on-the-prize type of a look. Not looking at me. Objectifying. Almost like he is drooling.
Eventually Riley decided to prosecute Luke. But, years after the incident and the trial, she remains traumatized.
I have vivid nightmares all the time — nightmares of guys trying to get me and hurt me, of Luke trying to hurt me and my family, me running from danger, somebody shooting me. It was agony — trapped, a huge trapped feeling. Now, when I'm at a place where I feel like I need to leave, and let's say, for whatever reason, I get a trigger, and I need to leave, and someone is talking and my heart races and I get sweaty, I say, "I have to step out." If I get anywhere that I feel I can't leave when I want to, I start to get very nervous and anxious, and the heart just starts racing.
Riley's health, which had never been good, deteriorated after the incident. The restless nights caused exhaustion and pain, and her cystic fibrosis symptoms became worse. This already vulnerable young person had been broken.
Riley's cousin Richard described to me how "Riley works hard to make meaning of her chronic illness. She will always have cystic fibrosis. The length of her life will probably be diminished; the quality of her life will as well. They are making strides all the time. She may get a lung transplant, there are new medications, but she is looking at applying for disability. She wants to be a social worker and do good things in the world, and she will, but she is not looking ahead to a lifetime of great opportunity because her health won't permit it. It's hard for her. She would like to be a mom. She is not sure she ever will get a chance."
Richard thought Riley's vulnerability was probably obvious. "She wants to make people happy," he said. "She is aware of this. This guy is a nice guy — he is showing her attention. He says, 'Let's go back to my apartment and watch a movie,' and she says, 'Sure.' I don't mean to blame Riley, however. I don't even want to hint at the fact that Riley somehow invited this thing. He preyed on her because of her interest in finding that kind of connection with someone."
Today, Riley believes she is unable to fully function as a woman. Intimacy triggers paralyzing memories of that night. Luke destroyed her ability to connect with anyone else.
There are elements in a relationship between a man and a woman that were taken away from me that night. It was robbed of me. I've struggled with this as I have found a counselor, and then I will have nightmares, and I will go out on a date, and I will get hysterical. I'm working so hard to become healthy and stable again. Why do I still have all these feelings? Why do I have to have all these triggers? I desire to be happy. I have a guy now, and I should be able to trust him. It just makes me angry at Luke, that he would do this to me. It makes you feel like there is one part of you that is ruined.
You can't put it into words. You feel like this is not like what life should be. How are we as survivors supposed to look at sex as something special to be shared and not have some lingering fears and feelings and trauma inside of our hearts? That is the hardest thing. That act can be one of the greatest things in life — to celebrate love, to make children, to make a family. It is ingrained in women to have a family. In order to do that, you have to have sex. If you have been violated that much, and it has made an objectified power struggle, a torture thing, it makes it harder to get to that place where other people can get to, where sex is safe. He knew what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing.
If you think about rape, it is the taking away of an ability to express love. It shatters the way that you connect to everyone. It involves where your core intimacy lies and your love, and when that is involved, it shatters the way you connect to every human being.
Excerpted from Rape is Rape by Jody Raphael. Copyright © 2013 Jo Ann Raphael. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn 7
2 The Distortion of Rape Statistics: Who's Doing It and Why 19
3 The Feminist Attack: Acquaintance Rape as the Price for Women's Sexual Freedom 41
4 The Conservative Attack: Acquaintance Rape as the Result of Women's Promiscuity 53
Danielle and Shae 75
5 Is There a Rape "Epidemic"? 83
6 The Truth About False Rape Claims 101
7 Defending Strauss-Kahn 125
Blaming Tracy 129
8 Denial's Effects: Dangerous indifference 137
Punishing Megan 155
9 Freeing Strauss-Kahn 165
Believing Riley 169
10 A World Without Rape Denial 179
Recommended Reading 247
What People are Saying About This
"[A] gripping story of one woman's journey through abuse, drug addiction, and imprisonment. . . . Freeing Tammy is an invaluable contribution to the field of women's criminology." —Women's Review of Books
"[A] dynamic, stunning account . . . Raphael addresses the question of prison as punishment or rehabilitation. She leaves the reader with a piercing question of whether ex-felons should be viewed as "immoral convicts" or whether they should be treated as persons who need new opportunities to succeed. Recommended for students of criminology, public policy makers, and teachers and counselors who work with "at-risk" populations." —Multicultural Review
"A compelling, grim account of the struggle for victims of sexual violence to be heard and believed."—Publishers Weekly
“[A] compelling account, . . . the second in a planned trilogy on impoverished woman and violence to give voice to poor women of color in prostitution, and to provide new perspectives, grounded in new research data, regarding the social implications of today's multibillion-dollar sex industry." —Booklist
"What makes all of Raphael's books special is that she focuses each one on one individual, but includes the research findings about the topics covered, letting readers know how typical her cases are, and what social scientists know about the entire subject discussed." —Sexual Assault Report
"A must-read for everyone who wishes to end not just welfare, but poverty 'as we know it." —Patricia Ireland
“[A] harrowing account." —Library Journal
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think this is the best book written on rape in the last 15 years, bar none. It is a MUST read for anyone who cares abou this issue.
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"Rape is Rape" is the eye-opener that our society, one that is increasingly indifferent to victims, so desperately needs. Raphael doesn't just supply the reader with accurate and insightful information, she engrosses the reader with stories and truths that even the biggest "raper deniers" can't turn away from. In an ever-increasing victim-blaming society, "Rape is Rape" explains why our society has become this way and how it re-attacks the victims in the responses to their claims. Raphael then reminds us that we can no longer be by-standers; rather, we have an active role to rally around victims, educate rape-deniers, and reform a system that continuously fails rape victims. This book is a must-read for: educators, students, law professionals, health workers, law enforcement officials, the media, and the general public- this book is for every one.
I am so excited about this book and highly recommend it to anyone seeking a nuanced look at rape data and the "why" behind rape denial. The victims' stories were gripping, and I was impressed with how the author handled the misinformation surrounding rape prevalence and false rape claims. It's obvious Raphael waded through massive amounts of research and took the time to understand it. I consider this book a must-read for anyone working in the fields of rape or victim advocacy, medicine, law, criminal justice, or education.
"Yesssss." She moans loudly.
Scowls and hits her with knockout gas, "Punk" (I'm not going to rape you) Picks her up and takes her to home second result