By Kelsey Jochum, Content Editor
Two weeks ago, at an Indiana Senate debate, Eric Turner, Republican state representative, delivered comments that angered many. While discussing an amendment to an anti-abortion bill that would allow women whose pregnancy is the result of rape or incest to undergo the procedure, he implied that women who want an abortion could simply lie about being a victim.
“I want to be careful,” he said. “I don’t want to disparage in any way someone who has gone through the experience of a rape or incest, but someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest.”
Many in the senate, including Democrat Linda Lawson, reacted to the comment with disbelief.
“I was a sex crimes investigator for six years,” she said. “I wouldn’t tell you what it looks like and what it sounds like when women are raped, or 6-year-olds are raped, or 18-month-old-babies are raped, or 97-year-old women are raped. They don’t make it up.”
While the amendment didn’t pass and Turner later apologized, it doesn’t seem to fully correct what Turner said.
Having worked in a domestic violence and sexual assault agency for two years, I can fully side with Lawson that women do not make up stories of rape. Taking an event so traumatizing and embarrassing and acting as if it was something that could be lied about, like a bad grade on a test, is disgraceful.
First-degree sexual assaults – the legal term for rape – are often committed by people the victims know. Almost four out of every five rapes are committed by attackers who knew or recognized their victims, according to a study done by the National Center for Victims of Crime.
This is an important factor in understanding why sexual assault victims are likely not to report what has happened to them. They’re often embarrassed, especially when someone they knew and trusted betrayed them. Most victims know that it’s a matter of “he said, she said,” and they don’t have a very good chance of proving that there was no consent.
What’s more, these acts of violence often occur when there are drugs and alcohol present, further lowering a victim’s credibility if he or she was to report a crime.
Because of all these factors, it’s rare that victims of sexual assault report incidents to police, even though it seems like the sensible thing to do. Often, they feel like they won’t be believed and don’t want to relive the trauma of the event if they feel nothing will be solved. Knowing that there are many victims who choose not to report, sometimes it’s easy for society to assume that it doesn’t affect victims as seriously as it does. However, we forget that reporting can be just as traumatizing as the crime itself, especially in a system that favors the rapist.
Those who’ve heard the stories of rape victims understand how heinous of a crime it is and how difficult it is for the victim to trust another person with that information. Therefore, it’s clear that someone choosing to lie about rape simply to get around an abortion law couldn’t be confused with a true victim.
The average rate for reporting rape is one in every three victims. The focus should not be on stopping those who might choose to lie about it, but on helping those victims who find it too hard to share the truth.