Rapists Go Free, Victims Are Repeatedly Victimized

Prison terms for convicted rapists, without exception, should be mandatory.
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Photograph: Boulder Police

I was raped. It’s not something I have openly discussed after I realized my rapist would not be punished, but I feel it is time to speak up. More and more rapists are set free by a justice system that refuses to give justice to victims. This has to stop. Women deserve to feel safe, and we do not deserve to be further victimized by a court system that gives criminals second chances for violent offenses or a society that repeatedly tries to place the blame on the victim.

Reading the news that another rapist received a slap on the wrist was a slap in the face for all victims. Seeing comments from people that support the judge’s decision was a punch in the gut. Commenters stated that sex offenders suffered a lifetime of guilt and sex crimes had a low recidivism rate, making them good candidates for rehabilitation. It was suggested that living with what they’ve done is punishment enough. It was also stated that funds used to incarcerate rapists were better spent on counseling for the victim or providing reparations. Suggesting that it is okay for a person to commit rape and walk free is absurd, but acknowledging that a victim of rape is emotionally and physically traumatized while advocating for rehabilitation without incarceration is insane. Insinuating that rapists should not receive jail time and should instead pay victims for their rape is akin to treating it as legal, unwilling prostitution. One commenter stated that most victims would rather see their rapist receive help than receive a jail sentence. That’s not true, and this is not okay.

I am sad to say that most of these comments were made by a woman. I am equally sad to say that once I revealed that I was a rape victim and did not agree with any of it I was accused of making purely emotional assumptions. I was told that I made the case that victims need free assistance. It is not okay for anyone to state that it is expected for a person to need a lifetime of therapy to deal with rape, yet the rapist can be rehabilitated without serving a prison term. It is not okay for you to use me as a poster child for your campaign by stating that I still need therapy and would be better served by a system that puts money into victim assistance rather than paying to incarcerate violent criminals. It is not okay that you obviously recognize the lifetime impact of rape but still advocate for rehabilitation in lieu of jail time. It’s not okay. It is certainly not okay that I must feel victimized all over again. Prison terms for convicted rapists, without exception, should be mandatory.

This same woman did not understand that giving these rapists a slap on the wrist is the same as giving them a free pass. First rape is free, right? That is what you are advocating, whether you realize it or not. You trivialized my rape and the rape of every other victim. You advocate for rapists. You are essentially saying that women do not have the right to control their own bodies because men must be taught to control theirs. You had the nerve to say I was being sexist. Lady, victim shaming and diverting blame is the reason why we have judges handing out sentences that do not include incarceration. Your actions and words are why victims like me need a lifetime of therapy. We are victimized over and over again by people who would rather shift the blame back to the victim. It is socially acceptable to try and rationalize why the victim deserved to be raped or why a rapist should go free, and this is nauseating. I say it is socially acceptable because more than one person echoed this opinion. Two people stated that it would be better for me to receive counseling than for the perpetrator to be punished for his actions. Shame on you.

Rape culture is being promoted. Sex crimes are being trivialized. Victims are being blamed by advocates that state a rapist suffers the same traumatic after effects as the victim. This is not acceptable. When will society collectively say that we will not tolerate rape? It starts with ending victim shaming and blaming. It ends when together we tell the courts we will not tolerate sentences of no jail time for rapists and demand justice for victims.

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