READER REPORT:

NZ 'not great' to rape victims

SUSAN*
Last updated 12:00 11/12/2013

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I was raped just over a year ago. But I would never go to the police about it.

I have only told a few people about it and, as great as they have been, that's all I will ever tell. Because this country is not great to rape victims. It is not kind. And sometimes telling is the worst thing you could ever do.

Some of my friends have been raped and they went to the police. One was told there was nothing the police could do. They didn't even file a report. Others relayed terrifying stories of having every aspect of their ordeal called into question. How much they'd had to drink? Did they do any drugs? Why were they at a party in a short dress? Why were they at a party in the first place? All this before the case even got to court.

Friends can be terrible, too. Not understanding why some of us get upset at their 'jokes' about rape.

Worse are the non-believers. The friends who gather with other friends to talk about how they think someone's lying about it. A mutual friend they claimed to be so close to and cared so much about. They called her a liar even after her assailant had been convicted, even after another of his victims had come forward. Because as far as they were concerned he was a good bloke and it was impossible for a great guy like that to rape.

I don't think any of those people have a clue what a profound effect that had on me, how helpless I felt. To know that these friends could disregard anything she said because he was generous with his beer. To know they probably said the same stuff about me. And if friends can say this? What will strangers say when the town's gossip mill gets going?

I am always amazed at the men and women who come forward and seek justice. Their strength is remarkable and highly inspiring.

There is a lot of stigma to face as a rape victim in this country. What constitutes a "proper" victim? So many people sharing their thoughts on how easily they would get out of or avoid a situation they'll hopefully never have to face in the first place. So many expectations for how one should act after being assaulted in such an intimate way, how traumatised you're expected to be and how long it's appropriate to feel this way.

There are also a lot of amazing, supportive people in this country and some incredable services to boot. But it would be fantastic if everyone could help stop victim blaming while ignoring the behaviour of the "good bloke".

*The author's full name has been withheld to protect her identity.


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