In 1996 Dorothy Mackey wrote an Op-ed piece, “Violence from comrades a fact of life for military women.” ABC News 20/ 20 did a segment on rape in the military. By November four women came forward at Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland, about a pattern of rape by drill sergeants. In 1997 the military finds three black drill sergeants to scapegoat. They were sent to prison and this left the commanding generals and colonels untouched to retire quietly. The Army appointed a panel to investigate sexual harassment. One of the panelists was the sergeant Major of the Army, Eugene McKinney.On hearing his nomination, former associates and one officer came forward with charges of sexual coercion and misconduct. In 1998 he was acquitted of all charges after women spoke (of how they were being stigmatized, their careers stopped, and their characters questioned. A Congressional panel studied military investigative practices. In 1998, the Court of Appeals ruled against Dorothy Mackay. She had been outspoken on media and highly visible. There is an old Arabic saying “When the hen crows cut off her head.”“This court finds that Col. Milam and Lt. Col. Elmore were acting in the scope of their duties” in 1991-1992 when Capt. Mackey alleged they harassed, intimidated and assaulted her. A legislative remedy was asked for and she appealed to the Supreme Court. Of course the Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 1999, as it always has under the feres doctrine. Her case was cited to block the suit of one of the Aberdeen survivors as well!
He pulled my skirt up. I began to worry. Everyone knew he had broken in girls before and I didn't want it to happen to me. I said, 'No. Get off, please.' He pulled me down the alley and pushed me to the ground. As I lay on my back worrying about my new blue coat, he pushed his fingers up between my legs — and rammed himself into me.I was crying. His lips were pressed against mine but I was motionless, like a small corpse. He grunted and I knew it was over. He got up, I just lay there on the ground, my tights round my ankles. The clock was striking twelve.As he walked away, he turned and said, 'I've always wanted to do it to you. I like your mouth'.When I got in, my mum said, 'Tracey, what's wrong with you?' I showed her my coat, the dirt and the stains, and told her 'I'm not a virgin any more.' She didn't call the police or make any fuss. She just washed my coat and everything carried on as normal, as though nothing had happened.But for me, my childhood was over, I had become conscious of my physicality, aware of my presence and open to the ugly truths of the world. At the age of thirteen, I realised that there was a danger in innocence and beauty, and I could not live with both.(describing childhood rape)
And there’s one other matter I must raise. The epidemic of domestic sexual violence that lacerates the soul of South Africa is mirrored in the pattern of grotesque raping in areas of outright conflict from Darfur to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in areas of contested electoral turbulence from Kenya to Zimbabwe. Inevitably, a certain percentage of the rapes transmits the AIDS virus. We don’t know how high that percentage is. We know only that women are subjected to the most dreadful double jeopardy.The point must also be made that there’s no such thing as the enjoyment of good health for women who live in constant fear of rape. Countless strong women survive the sexual assaults that occur in the millions every year, but every rape leaves a scar; no one ever fully heals.This business of discrimination against and oppression of women is the world’s most poisonous curse. Nowhere is it felt with greater catastrophic force than in the AIDS pandemic. This audience knows the statistics full well: you’ve chronicled them, you’ve measured them, the epidemiologists amongst you have disaggregated them. What has to happen, with one unified voice, is that the scientific community tells the political community that it must understand one incontrovertible fact of health: bringing an end to sexual violence is a vital component in bringing an end to AIDS.The brave groups of women who dare to speak up on the ground, in country after country, should not have to wage this fight in despairing and lonely isolation. They should hear the voices of scientific thunder. You understand the connections between violence against women and vulnerability to the virus. No one can challenge your understanding. Use it, I beg you, use it.
Police recording of false allegations of rape:"The data on the pro formas limit the extent to which one can assess the police designations, but their internal rules on false complaints specify that this category should be limited to cases where either there is a clear and credible admission by the complainants, or where there are strong evidential grounds. On this basis, and bearing in mind the data limitations, for the cases where there is information (n=144) the designation of false complaint could be said to be probable (primarily those where the account by the complainant is referred to) in 44 cases, possible (primarily where there is some evidential basis) in a further 33 cases, and uncertain (including where victim characteristics are used to impute that they are inherently less believable) in 77 cases. If the proportion of false complaints on the basis of the probable and possible cases are recalculated, rates of three per cent are obtained, both of all reported cases (n=67 of 2,643), and of those where the outcome is known (n=67 of 2,284). Even if all those designated false by the police were accepted (a figure of approximately ten per cent), this is still much lower than the rate perceived by police officers interviewed in this study. A question asked of all of them was how they assessed truth and falsity in allegations and within this, 50 per cent (n=31) further discussed the issue of false allegations."A gap or a chasm?: attrition in reported rape cases.
There's no being out too late in Whileaway, or up too early, or in the wrong part of town, or unescorted. You cannot fall out of the kinship web and become sexual prey for strangers, for there is no prey and there are no strangers -- the web is world-wide. In all of Whileaway there is no one who can keep you from going where you please (though you may risk your life, if that sort of thing appeals to you), no one who will follow you and try to embarrass you by whispering obscenities in your ear, no one who will attempt to rape you, no one who will warn you of the dangers of the street, no one who will stand on street corners, hot-eyed and vicious, jingling loose change in his pants pocket, bitterly bitterly sure that you're a cheap floozy, hot and wild, who likes it, who can't say no, who's making a mint off it, who inspires him with nothing but disgust, and who wants to drive him crazy.
Now in my eleven years of conventional life I had learned many things and one of them is what it means to be convicted of rape--I do not mean the man who did it, I mean the woman to whom it was done. Rape is one of the Christian mysteries, it creates a luminous and beautiful tableau in people's minds; and as I listened furtively to what nobody would allow me to hear straight out, I slowly came to understand that I was face to face with one of those feminine disasters, like pregnancy, like disease, like weakness; she was not only the victim of the act but in some strange way its perpetrator; somehow she had attracted the lightening that struck her out of a clear sky. A diabolical chance--which was not chance--had revealed her to all of us as she truly was, in her secret inadequacy, in that wretched guiltiness which she had kept hidden for seventeen years but which now finally manifested in front of everybody. Her secret guilt was this:She was Cunt.She had "lost" something.Now the other party to the incident had manifested his essential nature, too; he was Prick--but being Prick is not a bad thing. In fact, he had "gotten away with" something (possibly what she had "lost").And there I was at eleven years of age:She was out late at night.She was in the wrong part of town.Her skirt was too short and that provoked him.She liked having her eye blacked and her head banged against the sidewalk.I understood this perfectly. (I reflected thus in my dream, in my state of being a pair of eyes in a small wooden box stuck forever on a grey, geometric plane--or so I thought.) I too had been guilty of what had been done to me, when I came home from the playground in tears because I had been beaten up by bigger children who were bullies.I was dirty.I was crying.I demanded comfort.I was being inconvenient.I did not disappear into thin air.
Since most sexual abuse begins well before puberty, preventive education, if it is to have any effect at all, should begin early in grade school. Ideally, information on sexual abuse should be integrated into a general curriculum of sex education. In those communities where the experiment has been tried, it has been shown conclusively that children can learnwhat they most need to know about sexual abuse, without becoming unduly frightened or developing generally negative sexual attitudes. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, for example, the Hennepin County Attorney's office developed an education program on sexual assault for elementary school children. The program was presented to all age groups in four different schools, some eight hundred children in all. The presentation opened with a performance by a children’s theater group, illustrating thedifference between affectionate touching, and exploitative touching. The children’s responses to the skits indicated that they understood the distinction very well indeed. Following the presentation, about one child in six disclosed a sexual experience with an adult, ranging from an encounter with an exhibitionist to involvement in incest. Most of the children,both boys and girls, had not told anyone prior to the classroom discussion. In addition to basic information on sexual relations and sexual assault, children need to know that they have the right to their own bodily integity.
Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy.Just as these capabilities are formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships.The first principle of recovery is empowerment of the survivor. She must be the author and arbiter of her own recovery. Others may offer advice, support, assistance, affection, and care, but not cure.Many benevolent and well-intentioned attempts to assist the survivor founder because this basic principle of empowerment is not observed. No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster her recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest.
The ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called "doublethink," and which mental health professionals, searching for calm, precise language, call "dissociation." It results in protean, dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms of hysteria which Freud recognized a century ago as disguised communications about sexual abuse in childhood. . . .
Well before she became famous — or infamous, depending on where you cast your vote — Loftus's findings on memory distortion were clearly commodifiable. In the 1970s and 1980s she provided assistance to defense attorneys eager to prove to juries that eyewitness accounts are not the same as camcorders. "I've helped a lot of people," she says. Some of those people: the Hillside Strangler, the Menendez brothers, Oliver North, Ted Bundy. "Ted Bundy?" I ask, when she tells this to me. Loftus laughs. "This was before we knew he was Bundy. He hadn't been accused of murder yet." "How can you be so confident the people you're representing are really innocent?" I ask. She doesn't directly answer. She says, "In court, I go by the evidence.... Outside of court, I'm human and entitled to my human feelings. "What, I wonder are her human feelings about the letter from a child-abuse survivor who wrote, "Let me tell you what false memory syndrome does to people like me, as if you care. It makes us into liars. False memory syndrome is so much more chic than child abuse.... But there are children who tonight while you sleep are being raped, and beaten. These children may never tell because 'no one will believe them.'" "Plenty of "Plenty of people will believe them," says Loftus. Pshaw! She has a raucous laugh and a voice with a bit of wheedle in it. She is strange, I think, a little loose inside. She veers between the professional and the personal with an alarming alacrity," she could easily have been talking about herself.
But then, not long after, in another article, Loftus writes, "We live in a strange and precarious time that resembles at its heart the hysteria and superstitious fervor of the witch trials." She took rifle lessons and to this day keeps the firing instruction sheets and targets posted above her desk. In 1996, when Psychology Today interviewed her, she burst into tears twice within the first twenty minutes, labile, lubricated, theatrical, still whip smart, talking about the blurry boundaries between fact and fiction while she herself lived in another blurry boundary, between conviction and compulsion, passion and hyperbole. "The witch hunts," she said, but the analogy is wrong, and provides us with perhaps a more accurate window into Loftus's stretched psyche than into our own times, for the witch hunts were predicated on utter nonsense, and the abuse scandals were predicated on something all too real, which Loftus seemed to forget: Women are abused. Memories do matter. Talking to her, feeling her high-flying energy the zeal that burns up the center of her life, you have to wonder, why. You are forced to ask the very kind of question Loftus most abhors: did something bad happen to her? For she herself seems driven by dissociated demons, and so I ask. What happened to you? Turns out, a lot. (refers to Dr. Elizabeth F. Loftus)
Loftus grew up with a cold father who taught her nothing about love but everything about angles. A mathematician, he showed her the beauty of the triangle's strong tip, the circumference of the circle, the rigorous mission of calculus. Her mother was softer, more dramatic, prone to deep depressions. Loftus tells all this to me with little feeling "I have no feelings about this right now," she says, "but when I'm in the right space I could cry." I somehow don't believe her; she seems so far from real tears, from the original griefs, so immersed in the immersed in the operas of others. Loftus recalls her father asking her out to see a play, and in the car, coming home at night, the moon hanging above them like a stopwatch, tick tick, her father saying to her, "You know, there's something wrong with your mother. She'll never be well again. Her father was right. When Loftus was fourteen, her mother drowned in the family swimming pool. She was found floating face down in the deep end, in the summer. The sun was just coming up, the sky a mess of reds and bruise. Loftus recalls the shock, the siren, an oxygen mask clamped over her mouth as she screamed, "Mother mother mother," hysteria. That is a kind of drowning. "I loved her," Loftus says. "Was it suicide?" I ask. She says, "My father thinks so. Every year when I go home for Christmas, my brothers and I think about it, but we'll never know," she says. Then she says, "It doesn't matter." "What doesn't matter?" I ask. "Whether it was or it wasn't," she says. "It doesn't matter because it's all going to be okay." Then I hear nothing on the line but some static. on the line but some static. "You there?" I say. "Oh I'm here," she says. "Tomorrow I'm going to Chicago, some guy on death row, I'm gonna save him. I gotta I gotta testify. Thank God I have my work," she says. "You've always had your work," I say. "Without it," she says, "Where would I be?
There is a cop who is both prowler and father:he comes from your block, grew up with your brothers,had certain ideals.You hardly know him in his boots and silver badge,on horseback, one hand touching his gun.You hardly know him but you have to get to know him:he has access to machinery that could kill you.He and his stallion clop like warlords among the trash,his ideals stand in the air, a frozen cloudfrom between his unsmiling lips.And so, when the time comes, you have to turn to him,the maniac’s sperm still greasing your thighs,your mind whirling like crazy. You have to confessto him, you are guilty of the crimeof having been forced.And you see his blue eyes, the blue eyes of all the familywhom you used to know, grow narrow and glisten,his hand types out the detailsand he wants them allbut the hysteria in your voice pleases him best.You hardly know him but now he thinks he knows you:he has taken down you worst momenton a machine and filed it in a file.He knows, or thinks he knows, how much you imagined;he knows, or thinks he knows, what you secretly wanted.He has access to machinery that could get you put away;and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,your details sound like a portrait of your confessor,will you swallow, will you deny them, will you lie your way home?