Anti-Oppression Theory

(from CALCASA‘s Support for Survivors training manual)

SEXUAL ASSAULT and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A TACTIC OR TOOL OF OPPRESSION.

Sign for

Sign for "Colored" waiting room, Georgia, 1943. Image via Wikipedia

Most frequently, sexual assault is used by men to dominate women and by adults to dominate children. Sexual assault has also been used as a weapon of oppression against people of color, people with disabilities, and lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and gay men. Because sexual assault is a weapon of oppression, we must understand oppression if we hope to end sexual violence. This chapter examines oppression, explains how different forms of Oppression work together, and explores the ways that oppression may stand in the. way of efforts to end sexual violence.
Oppression and What Keeps it Going
Oppression is the systematic and pervasive mistreatment of individuals on the basis of their membership in a disadvantaged group. Institutional and interpersonal imbalances in power contribute to this mistreatment. Oppression involves the systematic use of power to marginalize, exploit, silence, discriminate against, invalidate, deny, dismiss, and/or not recognize the complete humanness of those are members of a disadvantaged group.

In the United States, there are systems of oppression based so race, class, gender (and gender identity) sexual orientation, religion, ability, age, body size, and citizenship. Privilege is given to those who are white, male, middle-class or “well off” economically, heterosexual and not transgender, Protestant, able-bodied and of able mind, middle-aged, thin, and a U.S. citizen. This means that some groups of people are oppressed, and some are not. For example, men, as a group, are not oppressed. Men do not face systematic and pervasive mistreatment because they are male. An individual man may face oppression based on another identity characteristic such as race or disability. We all have multiple identities, because we all have a gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and so on. This means we can be privileged because of one identity while at the same time facing oppression because of another.

Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination support oppression and keep it going. Stereotypes are generalizations about groups of people. They do not take into account the differences within groups. Like stereotypes, prejudice is based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Prejudice is a preference or bias toward or against a group. Both stereotypes and prejudice have negative or detrimental effects. They assert that groups of individuals are all the same (that is, “Those people are….,” “That group can’t….,” “They all act…”). They fail to recognize uniqueness, which is an important part of every person’s humanity. It is true that prejudice and stereotypes are only attitudes, but these destructive attitudes, opinions, feelings, and ideas shape our actions and contribute to discrimination.

Discrimination is active; it is preferential or biased treatment based on stereotypes, prejudice, and/or historical practices. It results in unequal access and/or representation. Oppressive systems and ideologies — such as racism and white supremacy, sexism and male supremacy, and classism and capitalism — are maintained through discrimination. Institutionalized oppression involves enforcing discrimination in such a way that the status quo is maintained (for example, when all the secretaries are women and all the supervisors are men) and inequality is made to seem legitimate (for example, when it is said that the workplace is structured this way because women who apply for supervisory  positions lack the skills to hold these jobs but do possess the skills to be secretaries).

When oppression is enforced through everyday interaction between individuals, this is interpersonal oppression. Interpersonal oppression may take place in a variety of ways. For example, a shop clerk might follow Black customers, expecting them to steal and making them uncomfortable. Interpersonal oppression may occur among friends and relatives as well as among strangers. For example, family members may psychologically and/or physically abuse elder or disabled relatives. Interpersonal oppression is often supported by institutional oppression. For example, if a lesbian teen is harassed by her classmates because she is a lesbian, this is interpersonal oppression. If school authorities allow or condone the harassment, that is institutional oppression.

Discrimination can take many forms, including unfair hiring practices, white flight (from cities to suburbs) and residential segregation, the educational “tracking” of students (college track, not college track), and even violence. In fact, many people refer to violence (and the threat of violence) as a weapon of oppression because it protects oppression.

In doing anti-rape and anti-domestic violence work, it is important to have a clear understanding of oppression and how it functions in the United States. Oppression, a political term often used in the anti-violence movement and other progressive U.S. social movements, must maintain its sharpness, its clarity; otherwise,  it will be stretched to meaninglessness (that is, everyone calling them selves oppressed, regardless of their actual positions of privilege).

Oppression is an abuse of power by a dominant group. Other interactions among people may be hurtful or unfair but not oppression. As a social movement, our goal is to challenge abuses of power—more precisely sexual assault and domestic violence, a specific power abuse—and we require language that can articulate why abuses of power occur.

Making the Connections

Audre Lorde writes, “There is no hierarchy of oppression.” What does this Black lesbian feminist, poet-activist mean? Ultimately she is saying that she will not choose between her identities or favor one identity over another. Any movement that fails to recognize her multiple identities or that asks her to recognize only her Blackness or her gender or her lesbian identity is a movement in which she refuses to participate. In fact, Lorde argues that such a movement holds the seeds of its own failure and destruction.

If we look deeply, we will see that violence – in the form of sexual assault, battering, lynching, genocide, and other hate crimes – is a tactic of all forms of oppression. Thus, violence is one area where all forms of oppression intersect. And, in fact, acts of bias violence, or hate violence often involve more than one form of oppression. For example, lynching – most obviously an expression of racism – often included bizarre sexual mutilation of the victim. It seems clear that the white male perpetrators of such violence where expressing not only their racist ideology of white supremacy, but also their sexist fantasy of masculinity.

By the same token, rape – most obviously an expression of sexism – also involves other forms of oppression. When women, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are threatened with rape when they show affection toward other women, we see homophobia (and transphobia) acting in concert with sexism. This all-too-common occurrence is a manifestation of these forms of oppression interacting with and bolstering each other. Suzanne Pharr, who co-chaired the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its Lesbian Task Force, calls homophobia a weapon of sexism and connects homophobia and heterosexism to sexual and domestic violence perpetrated against women:

How many of us have heard battered women’s stories about their abusers calling them lesbians or calling the battered women’s shelter a lesbian place? The abuser is not so much labeling a her a lesbian as he is warning her that she is choosing to be outside society’s protection (of male institutions), and she therefore should choose to be with him, with what is “right.” He recognizes the power in woman-bonding and fears loss of her servitude and loyalty: the potential loss of his control. The concern is not affectional/sexual identity; the concern is disloyalty. The labeling is a threat. . . . Our concern with homophobia, then, is not just that it damages lesbians, but that it damages all women. We recognize homophobia as a means of controlling women, and we recognize the connection between control and violence.2

The intersection of oppressions also affects how acts of bias violence are perceived. The feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw notes that rape is “racialized.”3 In the United States, rape has been historically racialized in the image of the white female victim and the Black male rapist, and our social problem of rape has grown to be racialized in the rapist as a man of color. This does two things. First, women of color are absolutely invisible in this equation. Women of color come to be seen as “unrapeable.” Second, white men are protected by this mythology. They are let off the hook; they are not seen as perpetrating rape. But we know that 90% of sexual assaults occur between individuals of the same race and socioeconomic class.4 We also know that in 84% of all rapes, the survivor knows their rapist.5 Such a racialized image of rape obscures these facts as well as the everyday attacks that white women experience at the hands of white men. Therefore, this racist mythology harms, not only women and men of color, but also white women. Here, racism and sexism work together to hurt everyone but white men. Donna Landerman clearly articulates why it is of utmost importance that the anti-violence movement be anti-racist:

From both an ideological and practical point of view, it is essential for the anti-rape movement to investigate racism and incorporate an anti-racist perspective, because racism in major ways both causes and defines rape. If we are to successfully aid women who have been raped, prevent rape, and eventually eliminate rape, it is necessary to understand and attack rape in all its forms and at all its roots. Racism and cultural and class oppression are some of those roots of rape, and lead rape to take different forms in the lives of women of various races, cultures, and classes. 6

Angela Davis insightfully links rape to the capitalist class structure. She asserts that:

those men who wield power in the economic and political realm are encouraged by the class structure of capitalism to become agents of sexual exploitation. Their authority (within this capitalist structure) guards them against punishment in all circles except one: they may not violate a woman of their own standing… With this single exception, the man of authority can rape as he will, for he is only exercising his authority. 7

The highly publicized William Kennedy Smith rape case, which involved a rich and influential man for a well-known political family and a less-affluent woman, shows that there is validity to what Angela Davis argues. But it may be inaccurate to say absolutely that economically privileged men cannot rape women of their economic class with impunity. Nonetheless, the power of Davis’s analysis is her awareness that capitalism is connected to violence against women.

Capitalism is based on competition rather than cooperation and therefore promotes conflict. In addition, capitalism has exploitation of one group of people by another “built in,” because profits can be achieved only by the exploitation of workers and/or consumers. Capitalism treats workers like objects to be used just as many perpetrators of violence treat women and children like sexual objects to be used or consumed. Modern capitalism, in its advertising, also treats women like sexual objects to be used to sell products. Capitalism teaches those who are or who aspire to be of the owning class to dominate, exploit, and use workers. These are the same dynamics that the anti-rape and anti-domestic violence movement has identified as contributing to sexual and domestic violence. And arguably it is capitalism that encourages us to believe that poor and working-class men are more likely to perpetrate sexual violence than economically privileged men. Classism works to the benefit of those at the top of the hierarchy, protecting them from being held accountable for the sexual violence they perpetrate against women of their economic class and against those women who have less economic privilege.

All of this demonstrates that considering sexism and male supremacy as the only important forms of oppression involved in sexual assault and domestic violence is not only inaccurate by self-defeating. This is, in part, because we cannot neatly separate sexism from homophobia and transphobia or sexism from racism or from classism.  Over time, forms of oppression have become intertwined. Movements that fail to take this into account cannot fully succeed and may cause more harm. I think Kimberlé Crenshaw, writing about the anti-rape movement, says it best: “This movement inadvertently participates in exclusionary politics because some of us fail to comprehend the anti-violence movement as an anti-oppression movement.”8

Thinking about all of the different forms of oppression and how they work together can feel overwhelming and depressing. With so many forces against us, how can we hope to make a difference? Although the task is challenging, it is not impossible. From the anti-lynching movement in the United States to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, history is filled with examples of women leading and contributing to successful collective efforts at social change. Working with and learning about other activists can be educational, inspirational, and transforming.

Oppression and the Anti-Violence Movement

Because oppression is, by nature, pervasive, it is not surprising that social change organizations – including the anti-rape and anti-domestic violence movement – are sometimes hampered by oppression. Obviously, those in power seek to hold on to their power, so the oppressive forces against which social change organizations struggle often strike back. “Backlash” is an example of that. Less obviously, but still importantly, social change organizations sometimes have internal problems rooted in one form of oppression or another.

As social change agents of the anti-violence movement, we recognize the prevalence of oppression in our communities, whether it be sexism, racism, hatred of immigrants, heterosexism and transphobia, Antisemitism, anti-Islamic sentiment, or some combination of these or other forms of oppression. And we recognize the existence of a backlash, a reactionary response to our social change work. This backlash stems from the unwillingness of institutions and individuals to give up power and privilege.

Often it is easier for us to see oppression “out there,” beyond our social movement or our agencies. But oppression is insidious and does find its way into our organizations. For example, a white-dominated organization might neglect the needs of survivors of color, or a primarily heterosexual agency might ask its lesbian staff members to “act straight.” Like many other institutions, anti-rape and anti-domestic violence agencies may be inaccessible to people with disabilities or unfair in their treatment of workers.

One example of resistance to institutional  and interpersonal oppression within social change organizations is the work of the Ann Arbor Coalition for Community Unity. This Michigan-based  coalition formed in 1994 in the wake of a poorly handled serial rapist investigation and committed itself to simultaneously addressing sexism and racism. During its work, it issued a statement to feminist agencies in the Ann Arbor area that stressed the importance of addressing abuses of power within women’s agencies. Here is an excerpt from a letter written by the women of the coalition:

Audre Lorde told us that when we, as women, fall back on the same tactics that the patriarchy uses to control us, tactics of sexism, racism, silencing, and dismissal, we become self-defeating as a movement. Instead of working to end the conditions that create and perpetuate violence against women, we enable them. Every time we silence other women’s criticism of our work, or punish dissent, we commit an act of violence. Violence, after all, is the abusive or unjust exercise of power. And when we perpetuate this kind of emotional and spiritual violence against women within our movement, we condition women to accept the physical and sexual violence we are fighting daily.9

We have to meet all forms of oppression in our communities and in our movement head on in order to progress and to ultimately end rape and domestic violence. This means that we cannot write enough about how racism, classism, heterosexism and transphobia and other forms of oppression reinforce sexism. This means that we cannot educate enough about how violence is rooted in oppression. And this means we must act!

Notes: (the books cited are older, yes, but are classics)

1. Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Trumanberg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1984), 20.

2. Suzanne Pharr, Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism (Little Rock, AR: Chardon Press, 1988).

3. Kimberlé Crenshaw, “The Marginalization of Sexual Violence Against Black Women,” National Coalition Against Sexual Assault Journal 2, no. 1 (spring 1994): 1-6, 15.

4. Angela Davis, Women Race, and Class (New York: Random House, 1981).

5. Mary Koss, “Date Rape: The Story of an Epidemic and Those Who Deny It,” Ms Magazine (October 1985).

6. Donna Landerman, “Breaking the Racism Barrier: White Anti-Racism Work,” in Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence, ed Pam McAllister (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1982).

7. Angela Davis, “Rape, Racism and the Capitalist Setting,” Black Scholar 9, no. 2 (1978): 24-30.

8. Crenshaw, “Marginalization of Sexual Violence Against Black Women,” 6.

9. Ann Arbor Coalition for Community Unity; Open Letter to Women’s Community-based Organizations in the Ann Arbor Area, 1996.

Reactions to Sexual Assault: The Victim Response

Reactions to Sexual Assault: “Victim Response”

 

Most sexual assault survivors are recovering from a life-threatening experience. They often think “if they can do this to me, they can kill me.”

 

Every survivor of sexual assault responds uniquely to the assault, just as the recovery process is different for each individual. Below is a sampling of common symptoms that survivors often experience at various points after the sexual assault.

 

PHYSICAL

  • · Eating disorders
  • · Fatigue
  • · Gastrointestinal irritability (nausea, vomiting)
  • · Headaches
  • · Muscular tension and/or spasms
  • · Nightmares
  • · Physical injuries (cuts, bruises, broken bones, etc.)
  • · Pregnancy
  • · Sleep disturbances
  • · Somatic illness
  • · Soreness
  • · Venereal disease

 

EMOTIONAL

  • · Anger
  • · Anxiety
  • · Calm
  • · Composed
  • · Denial
  • · Depression
  • · Despair
  • · Embarrassment
  • · Guilt
  • Helplessness
  • · Hopelessness
  • · Humiliation
  • · Irritability
  • · Laughter
  • · Low self-esteem
  • · Mood swings
  • · Numbness
  • · Obsessive Compulsive tendencies
  • · Phobias
  • · Powerlessness
  • · Sadness
  • · Sense of disbelief
  • · Sense of unreality
  • · Shame
  • · Shock
  • · Vulnerability

 

THOUGHTS

  • · What will people think?
  • · Will they blame me?
  • · Will others reject me?
  • · Why did this happen to me?
  • · Am I damaged goods?
  • · Why me?
  • · What if I had/had not done….”
  • · Confusion
  • · Flashbacks
  • · Difficulty concentrating
  • · If I forget about it, it will go away
  • · Bad things happen to bad people. Good things happen to good people.
  • · I deserved it because….

 

SOCIAL

  • · Withdrawal
  • · Afraid to be alone
  • · Uncomfortable around other people
  • · Afraid/nervous in crowds
  • · Difficulty trusting others
  • · Hypersensitive when relating to others
  • · Afraid to leave the house (especially alone)
  • · Less productive
  • · Difficult time getting things accomplished
  • · Difficult time relaxing
  • · Disruption in sexual relations
  • · Difficulty with intimacy
  • · Difficulties/apprehension around people, especially if they look like the assailant.

 

 

Adapted from Assault Crisis Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48014

Who are the victims of sexual assault?

Who are the Victims?


Women

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).1

17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.1

9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.2

While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:1

Men

About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1

  • In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.2
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.1

Children

15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.3

  • 29% are age 12-17.
  • 44% are under age 18.3
  • 80% are under age 30.3
  • 12-34 are the highest risk years.
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.4

  • 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.

In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.5

  • Of these, 75% were girls.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.

93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.6

  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

 

 

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims

How Often Does Sexual Assault Occur?

How often does sexual assault occur?

In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.1 (These figures do not include victims 12 years old or younger.)

Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

Here’s the math. According to the U.S. Department of Justice‘s National Crime Victimization Survey — the country’s largest and most reliable crime study — there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available).

There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 248,300 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 127 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.

The Unvictims

Sexual assault has fallen by more than 60% in recent years.2 Had the 1993 rate held steady, 6.8 million Americans would have been assaulted in the last 13 years.

But, thanks to the decline, the actual number of victims was about 4.2 million. In other words, if not for the historic gains we’ve made in the last decade, an additional 2,546,420 Americans would have become victims of sexual violence.

1.        U.S. Department of Justice. 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2007.
http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/frequency-of-sexual-assault

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Drug Facilitated Assault

Drug facilitated assault: when drugs or alcohol are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. In addition, drugs and alcohol are often used in order to minimize the resistance and memory of the victim of a sexual assault.

Alcohol remains the most commonly used chemical in crimes of sexual assault, but there are also substances being used by perpetrators including: Rohypnol, GHB, GBL, etc.

 

Diminished Capacity

Diminished capacity exists when an individual does not have the capacity to consent. Reasons for this inability to consent include, but are not limited to: sleeping, drugged, passed out, unconscious, mentally incapacitated, etc.

It is important to understand diminished capacity because oftentimes victims of sexual assault in these situations blame themselves because they drank, did drugs, etc. It is essential to emphasize that it is not his or her fault, that the aggressor is the one who took advantage of his or her diminished capacity.

 

Rohypnol

Rohypnol is not approved for medical use in the United States. It is smuggled into the country and has become an increasingly popular street drug.

Street Names: Roofies, Roach, the Forget Pill, Circles, Mexican Valium, Rib, Roach-2, Roopies, Rophies, La Rochas, Rope, Poor Man’s Quaalude, Whiteys, Trip-and-Fall, Mind Erasers, Lunch Money, and R-2.

What is it?: A small white tablet that looks a lot like aspirin. It quickly disolves in liquid and can take effect within 30 minutes of being ingested. The effects peak within 2 hours and may have lingering effects for 8 hours or more.

 

Effects

 

 

 

GHB

GHB has not been approved by the FDA since 1990. Therefore, it is illegal for distribution and sale in the U.S.

Street Names: Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), Liquid X, Liquid E, G, Georgia Home Boys, Easy Lay, Cherry Meth, Soap, PM, Salt Water, Vita G, G-Juice, Great Hormones, Somatomax, Bedtime Scoop, Gook, Gamma 10, Energy Drink, and Goop.

What is it?: Pure GHB is commonly sold as a clear, odorless liquid or white crystalline powder. Because it is made in home labs, the effects are often unpredictable. Once ingested, GHB takes effect in approximately 15 minutes and can last 3-4 hours.

 

Effects

 

  • Sedation of the body
  • Intense drowsiness
  • Hampered mobility
  • Verbal incoherence
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Nausea, aspiration on own vomit
  • Headache
  • Respiratory failure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizure-like activity
  • Coma, death


GBL

A GHB-like product, GBL is often sold under the guise of a dietary supplement or an industrial cleaner.

What is it?: When the body metabolizes GBL, it becomes twice as potent as GHB. It has a bitter taste that can easily be masked by strong-tasting drinks. GBL now comes in flavors such as lime, cinnamon, and cherry. Once ingested it takes approximately 30-45 minutes to take effect.

 

Effects

 

  • Severe amnesia
  • Nausea, aspiration on own vomit
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Hypothermia
  • Coma
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Seizures
  • Agitation
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Death


NOTE: People who take GBL may act normally (i.e., may not appear intoxicated or sedated) but will have no memory of the time period. This effect can make it difficult for friends or acquaintances to identify that the individual has been drugged.

 

Benzodiazepines

What is it? Commonly prescribed as anti-anxiety and sleeping medications in the United States, these drugs can be put into an alcoholic drink or soft drink in powder or liquid form. These are legal forms of Rohypnol.

What it does: Like the other drugs described above, Benzodiazepines can markedly impair and even abolish functions that normally allow a person to resist, or even want to resist, sexual aggression or assault.

 

GHB, GBL, Rohypnol, & Benzodiazepines

NOTE:For all of these drugs, alcohol increases the effects.

All four of these drugs have some common effects that make them appealing to perpetrators. These drugs are common weapons of sexual assault due to the combined efforts of the sedative effect and the memory-impairment qualities.

How they Work
  • They are typically odorless, colorless, and tasteless when placed in liquid (except for GBL).
  • 5-30 minutes after ingestion, the victim of the drugging may struggle to talk or to move and may eventually pass out.
  • At this point the drugged individual is vulnerable to assault.
  • A survivor of such an assault may have virtually no memory of the events that occurred.

Another factor that makes these drugs dangerous and difficult to detect is that they leave the body rapidly, leaving little time for detection.

  • Rohypnol– leaves in 36-72 hours
  • GHB– leaves in 10-12 hours
  • GLB– leaves the urinary system within 6 hours and the blood stream within 24 hours.
Some Good News

The producers of Rohypnol have recently changed the chemistry of the pill so that it changes the color of clear drinks to bright blue and makes dark drinks go cloudy. It will, however, take a while for these new pills to hit the streets.

Ketamine

A dissociative general anesthetic that has stimulant, hallucinogenic, and hypnotic properties. It is usually used by veterinarians.

Street Names: K, K-Hole, Special K, Vitamin K, Purple, Psychedelic Heroin, Kit Kat, Jet, Bump, Black Hole.

What is it?: A fast-acting liquid that can be slipped into drinks. It can be used to sedate and incapacitate individuals in order to sexually assault them. Ketamine is especially dangerous when mixed with other drugs or alcohol.

What it does: Ketamine causes individuals to feel detached from their bodies and their surroundings so that, while they may be aware of what is happening to them, they are unable to move or fight back. In addition it may cause amnesia so that they do not remember what happened.

 

Effects

 

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Impaired motor skills
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Depression
  • Potentially fatal respiratory failure


Ecstasy

A toxic hallucinogenic and stimulant that has psychedelic effects. It is illegal to sell or to produce in the United States.

Street Names: E, X, X-TC, M&Ms, Adam, CK, Clarity, Hug Drug, Lover’s Speed.

What is it?: Ecstasy is commonly sold as small pills or capsules and is also available in powder and liquid forms. It can be slipped into an individual’s drink in order to facilitate sexual assault.

What it does: Ecstasy causes individuals to feel extreme relaxation and positivity towards others while it increases sensitivity to touch. When under the influence of ecstasy individuals are less likely to be able to sense danger and it may leave them unable to protect themselves from attack.

 

Effects

 

  • Increased blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia
  • Heat stroke
  • Heart failure

 


References:
Information for this section was adapted from http://www.911rape.org and materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. This is published on RAINN.org.

 

The Effects of Rape and Sexual Assault

The Effects of Rape and Sexual Assault

 

The impact of sexual assault on the survivor and their healing depends on many factors: the nature of the assault; the number of assault episodes; the levels of physical, spiritual, and sexual violence; the relationship between the survivor and the perpetrator; and the presences of a good support system. These factors will determine their immediate needs and their resources for longer-term healing. Although the circumstances of the assault affect the survivor’s healing process, there are some common characteristics seen in many rape survivors. It is important for you to know these common reactions so that you can teach the survivor that they are not alone and help them develop a plan for healing.

 

Rape Trauma Syndrome

 

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a specific form of a broader category of trauma response called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although PTSD is most commonly associated with the traumatic experiences of Vietnam War veterans, it can be applied to reactions to many forms of trauma, including natural disaster, war, rape, and other forms of violent crime. RTS is specific to the experience of the rape survivor. Reactions to rape are considered separately from other forms of PTSD because of the specific nature of the trauma of rape. Rape has been described as the ultimate violation of the self, short of homicide, with the invasion of one’s inner and most private space, as well as the loss of autonomy and control.

 

Rape trauma syndrome has three phases that can disrupt the physical, psychological, social, and sexual aspects of the survivor’s life. These phases were first described by Ann Burgess and Lynda Holmstrom in their 1974 work on RTS. The first phase is the crisis, acute, or disruptive phase and can last from days to weeks. The second phase is the denial, recoil, or suppression phase, which lasts from a few weeks up to six months. Sometimes the survivor alternates between the acute phase and the denial phase. And finally, the third phase is the reorganization, assimilation, or integration phase in which the survivor works to reestablish order in their life and regain a sense of control in the world. This third phase can last from months to years.

 

  • Phase I: Acute Crisis. The acute phases is the survivor’s immediate reaction to the assault and is characterized by shock and disbelief. Survivors’ expressions of these feelings might be either visible and outwardly expressed or more controlled. Whereas one survivor might sob outwardly, another might appear calm and unemotional. Some common physical issues at this stage of healing can include physical injury from the assault; tension, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping; and eating disturbances such as changes in appetite or nausea and stomach pains. Emotional reactions might include fear, shame, guilt, anger, embarrassment, revenge, and helplessness. Because the survivor is usually flooded with so many conflicting emotions, she can feel as though she is out of control or “going crazy.” One way to help a survivor experiencing acute crisis is to validate and normalize her feelings.

 

  • Phase II: Denial. Numbing or reduced involvement with the environment is a characteristic of PTSD and the second phase of RTS. In this phase, the survivor might attempt to forget the assault and might explain that they are “over it.” This represents their desire for mastery over the assault and is an expression of the desire to move forward with life. Frequently, the survivor alternates between the denial phase and the crisis phase.

 

  • Phase III: Reorganization or integration. This third phase of RTS frequently lasts the longest: from a couple of months to many years. The length of time this phase takes depends on how quickly she received crisis intervention, the specific nature of the assault, her past experiences of trauma, how she is treated by medical and legal professionals and rape crisis center staff, and her access to support systems, family, and friends. Symptoms of this phase of healing are psychological, social, and sexual. Psychological characteristics of this phase could include nightmares, phobias, paranoia, and compulsive behavior. Physical problems that might arise include gynecological problems, backaches, migraines, and eating disturbances. It is also common for social responses to include disrupted relationships with family, friends, and lovers. Survivors in this stage might have difficulty in sexual relationships. Although some survivors avoid sex because it reminds them of the assault, others might become more promiscuous to prove they have recovered from the rape.

 

One of the most empowering and comforting things to remind the survivor is that they are not alone and exactly what they are going through has been experienced by others. Because you know that so many survivors have similar reactions to sexual assault, you can reassure a survivor that they are not “going crazy,” but that their body and mind are coping with the trauma and attempting to protect them from future assault. It is important for you to continually remind yourself that each individual’s experience of the assault is unique and so is their reaction to the assault. However, being aware of the commonalities found between survivors’ reactions and using this information to educate each survivor you encounter can reduce isolation and help them understand their feelings and reactions.

Behind Closed Doors: Fear and intimidation tell the real truth about domestic violence

Behind Closed Doors
Fear and intimidation tell the real truth about domestic violence
By Judy Chaet
Sheila walked into my office; she was a bundle of nerves. She looked down at her hands, which were twisting a handkerchief round and round between her fingers. She had come back in to talk about her problem (she was having trouble sleeping and remembering things). The first thing she said was, “I’m not one of those battered women — he doesn’t hit me.”
Sheila and I met many times over the next six months. Her story came out in bits and pieces. It was true: he didn’t’ hit her, except for that one time — the time he broke her jaw, her cheekbone and her favorite mixing bowl (all over the kitchen). After that, he never hit her again. But there was the time he cut the cord to the telephone, and wouldn’t let her fix it — because she talked to her 85- year- old mother too much. There was the time he threatened to kill her twin sister, if she ever left him. There were the times he kept her awake all night, telling her what a lousy mother she was and that she couldn’t even keep the house clean. And then there was the time he hanged her dog in the garage, because she couldn’t make it stop sleeping on the sofa.
The thing about domestic violence is that it is insidious — it is, by definition, private and “behind closed doors.” The true depth and impact of the violence are almost impossible to quantify. Was Sheila a battered woman? YES. The number of hits, or who hit whom first, does not define abuse. It is, rather, a pattern of behavior. Was Sheila afraid of her husband? You bet.
The more telling point is who has the power — and who is afraid. One partner in a relationship may have been the one to “hit first,” this time. But what went on in the hours or days before that hit? Domestic violence goes far beyond the physical violence. It is also the coercion and threats, the sexual abuse, the intimidation, the isolation, the economic abuse, the use of the children as a threat (or to make her feel guilty). And, most often, it is the minimizing of that abuse – the denial and the blame.
The minimizing, denial and blame are all cruelly intentional acts designed to make the victim feel responsible for the abuse. Sheila believed that her actions were the cause of his violently abusive behavior.

We have all been taught from infancy that the well-being of homes, families and marriages is the responsibility of women. When there are problems in these arenas, we look to the women first: “Where was she while the children were doing that?”“Why does she stay?” These are the questions we are used to hearing, and asking. These are the questions that battered women ask themselves. And these questions are reinforced by everything that batterers tell their victims: If it’s her fault, then there must be something she can do to stop the abuse. But the truth is there is nothing she can do to stop the abuse:
it is the batterer’s intentional choice to batter.