Myth or Fact: “She Lied”

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Myth: The rate of false reporting for rape is higher than for other violent crimes.hiring-myth

Fact: Rape is the most underreported crime, NOT the most falsely reported.

Actually, the prevalence of false reporting of rape is about the same as it is for other felonies – between 2% and 8%. A study of 136 sexual assault cases in Boston found only a 5.9% rate of false reports.

This myth serves to blame the survivor. It increases suspicion and hostility toward people who come forward. Although there are isolated incidents where people have lied about being raped, these are the exception rather than the norm.

One major reason that Americans believe that rape is often falsely reported is that the media sensationalizes false reporting stories, while it minimizes or fails to cover the hundreds of thousands of true stories that happen every year.

Another major reason this myth is so commonly accepted is the misconception that rape is “easy to claim and hard to dispute.” But this is far from the truth—many survivors describe their experience of pressing charges or reporting their assault to law enforcement as a “second rape.” Reporting a rape or assault is a difficult and lengthy process. The survivor must share very personal details with complete strangers, undergo a traumatic evidence collection process, and will likely be subjected to a great deal of scrutiny or suspicion. Most survivors experience negative impacts, such as trauma from re-living/re-telling violence committed against them, victim-blaming comments that compound self-blame, and a general lack of support.  It is unlikely that someone would go through this long and painful process if their story was not true. In fact, the reality is that rape is extremely underreported — most survivors never report their experience, especially on college campuses.

Furthermore, many cases are eventually dropped because the structure of the criminal justice system – from police to judge – is not designed to handle the particulars of sexual violence cases. RAINN estimates that out of every 1,000 rapes, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated, meaning that “perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals.” Considering this, most survivors feel that there are enormous costs to reporting with usually very little to gain. So very few reports of rape are false — which means that the vast majority of them are true.

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This post is part of a series on Myths & Facts about Sexual Violence:

Myth #1: “He Didn’t Mean To”
Myth #2: “She Lied”
– Myth #3: “She Asked For It”
– Myth #4: “It Wasn’t Really Rape”


5 Tips for Finding the Right Babysitter

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blog postWhether you’re rushing to complete errands or enjoying a nice date night, it’s likely that you often find yourself in need of a babysitter for your kids. However, it can be difficult to find a person you trust completely to take care of your child. 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before the age of 18, and 40% of instances of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by older youth. With Child Abuse Prevention Month coming up in April, here are some tips for choosing the right person to care for your child.

1. Ask the potential babysitter for references. Talk to parents of kids they have cared for in the past as well as references for any other jobs they may have held to get a better sense of who they are. Read more


Why I Decided to Become a Companion

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men can stop rapeTo start, I am a man — a white heterosexual man to be exact.  I am probably not the first image that comes to mind when talking about an advocate at a rape crisis center.  But here I am, volunteering with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center as a Companion for survivors of sexual violence.  In sharing my story of how I got here, I hope that other men will read this and consider getting involved, either within our community or by taking a firm stand against sexual violence.

When I was finishing my final year of my undergraduate career, I began to take an interest in women’s issues.  To this day I cannot pinpoint what started it, but I do remember reading more blog posts and articles through Facebook about women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted, as well as more generic commentary about the everyday discrimination women encounter.  By the time I was in graduate school, my awareness of the frequency of sexual assault, particularly on college campuses, led me to change my academic focus toward women’s rights and gender equality.  Although my studies focus on the global stage, my conviction that women’s issues needed to be addressed only grew.

I volunteered as a Companion to learn more about sexual violence and how to combat it from a third party perspective.  Reading about instances of rape left me feeling angry that such actions occurred with stunning regularity, and frustrated that people could either brush it off or treat it as “just the way things are.”  While I am grateful for the training provided by the Center and have enjoyed my experience so far, I cannot deny that it has been emotionally trying.  Exposing myself to a subject that I could not personally relate to was difficult.  I certainly cared about what happened, but I understood very quickly that I could never fully comprehend the harassment, the violence, or the subtle discrimination because I was born a man. Read more


Purple Ribbon of Excellence

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purple-ribbon-of-excellenceWe are excited to announce that the Orange County Rape Crisis Center has been awarded the inaugural Purple Ribbon of Excellence! Presented by the Training and Education Committee of the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission, the Purple Ribbon of Excellence recognized the Center’s efforts to prevent child sexual abuse through our community education programs.

Over the last thirty years, our Safe Touch program for children and our Start Strong program for teens have helped prevent child sexual abuse by teaching children and adolescents to identify inappropriate behavior, to develop an understanding of consent and healthy relationships, and to stand against sexual violence in their schools and communities. These programs are designed for continuous learning, which means that students in every public school in Orange County will receive Safe Touch (preK through 5th grade) or Start Strong (7th and 9th grade) programming year after year, so the skills and knowledge they gain are consistently reinforced and built upon. Conversations that start with learning your own bodily autonomy and boundaries eventually shift to how these ideas apply to treating and respecting others. Read more


Tips for Supporting a Partner in Crisis

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d6eb60bcbd2c14fb8daabc773cd99ffcThe impacts of sexual violence can include a wide array of frustrations and barriers to daily functioning for survivors. Watching from the sidelines as a loved one struggles with those difficulties can bring a similar yet different sense of helplessness and frustration. Secondary survivors — the partners, friends, and family members of survivors — often go through their own trauma response as a result of hearing about the survivor’s experiences and witnessing the negative impacts.

Whether a primary survivor is still reeling in the immediate aftermath of having experienced sexual violence, or whether they are struggling with flashbacks and triggers months or years after the initial incident, it can be painful to watch someone experiencing a crisis. It is important to note that a crisis is different than an emergency. An emergency presents imminent risk of physical harm, whereas a crisis is the mental and emotional response when a situation is too overwhelming to be handled by regular coping methods.

As the person on the outside watching someone suffer, it is a common response to want to do anything you can to make it better, and also common to feel like there is nothing you can do to make it better. While you may not be able to fix the whole situation, your presence and support can be an invaluable benefit to your loved one. Here are a few suggestions for small ways to help someone through a crisis: Read more


5 Tips for Supporting a Survivor of Sexual Assault

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Parents, friends, and others who want to support survivors of sexual assault may not know exactly how to do so. These loved ones may feel helpless and worry about saying the wrong thing or pushing too hard when attempting to offer love and support. We share some of the best tips for supporting survivors so that you can help them feel empowered and start on the road toward healing.

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  1. Accept that you will not have all of the answers or be able to fix it.

It can be especially frustrating to help a loved one who survived sexual assault, because you may feel overwhelmed and struggle with not knowing exactly how to help, even though you wish you could make things better immediately. It is important to keep in mind that just being there for the survivor can make all of the difference in the world. Your loved one does not expect you to have all of the answers, and they know that you cannot repair the damage.

However, you can listen and let them know that you care. Offer unconditional support and believe them. You respond to them in non-judgmental ways and offer support in any way that you can. Do not blame them, question them, or push them for more information. Let them know that you believe in them and will support them for as long as it takes. You also need to validate their feelings and acknowledge them in positive and empowering ways.

  1. Help them feel empowered and regain control over their life.

One of the worst effects of sexual assault is the sense of helplessness that it instills in the victim. They lose power during the assault, so it is critical for you to support their decisions and choices to help them regain a sense of control over their life. Avoid telling them what to do, but offer suggestions and options to help them make decisions that are right for them. Share resources with them for other support systems, such as counselors, sexual assault support groups, and others.

You also could suggest that they ease back into a routine that does not involve a great deal of stress by finding a job that serves a therapeutic purpose. There are many options for working at home or working with their hands that would empower them by allowing them to work as much or as little as they’d like. For example, they could set her own hours and rates by becoming a dog walker. Studies show that petting and playing with dogs reduces stress and alleviates depression and anxiety.

  1. Take a cue from the survivor themselves.

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The Empowerment Model

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Contrary to rape culture and social norms that suggest sexual violence is rooted in sexual desire, lust, or uncontrollable biological urges, rape is a crime deeply embedded in power and control. When a perpetrator commits an act of sexual violence against another person, they deny that person the ability to exert control over their own body, the power to enforce their own boundaries, and the basic necessity of maintaining a sense of safety and well-being.

When a survivor discloses an experience of sexual violence to friends or family, the person hearing the disclosure may respond by trying to fix the situation. That could include things like insisting on going to the hospital, filing a report with the police, moving to a different location, or one of many other actions that prescribe a specific avenue of healing and recovery. Although this response comes from a place of good intentions, these actions often increase the feeling that the survivor has no control over their own life.

Rather than having yet another person impose their will, their concerns, and their priorities on the survivor, it is more beneficial to start from a place of empowerment.

Empowerment means helping the survivor reestablish a sense of control and agency. This may happen by allowing the survivor to recognize their own strengths and capabilities (instead of insisting that they are strong for having gone through something so horrific), helping them find the information necessary to make their own decisions (instead of making decisions without consulting them or against their wishes), and allowing them to take actions they feel comfortable with (instead of pressuring them to do things they don’t want to do).

When we don’t empower survivors to make their own choices within their personal healing process, it can feel re-traumatizing because the survivor is again in a situation beyond their control. Responding from a place of empowerment, however, restores control to the survivor and allows recovery to happen at a pace that feels comfortable.

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Mythbusting HB 2

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The Orange County Rape Crisis Center works to end sexual violence and its impact for all people. To this end, we are committed to sexual violence prevention efforts that are informed by research and analysis, not fear and misinformation.

The following is a statement from the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) about the recently passed HB 2 legislation. As a member agency of NCCASA and with a commitment to diversity and nondiscrimination, we support their statement.

[HB 2] overrides a recently passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte, prevents local governments from enacting a range of nondiscrimination and employment policies, and requires all public facilities, including schools, to allow restroom access only on the basis of “biological sex.” This bill specifically excludes LGBTQ people from legal protections and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal funds that NC schools receive under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.

A central argument in this case was about the prevention of sexual violence and the use and safety of public bathrooms. NCCASA is deeply committed to the prevention of all sexual violence, and it is essential that any efforts to do so are rooted in fact. What we know to be true is that the majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by someone the victim knows in a familiar place, rather than by a stranger in a public place. 200 cities across the nation have protections in place similar to the Charlotte ordinance, and none of them have reported an increase in sexual violence related to these protections.

On the other hand, physical and verbal assaults on transgender people in public bathrooms are not rare, and over 50% of transgender people have experienced sexual violence. We cannot end sexual violence unless we are committed to ending sexual violence for all people. What will actually prevent and end sexual violence is for us to create a culture in which respect for the identities and bodily autonomy of others is a deeply held value. Policies prohibiting discrimination based on one’s sexuality and gender identity, like the one passed in Charlotte, are a positive step toward ending sexual violence.

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The Center maintains a commitment to providing excellent and culturally competent services to survivors of all genders, including support for survivors of gender-based or trans-phobic sexual harassment and specialized support groups for LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence.

If you or someone you care about could use some support, please get in touch with us via our 24-Hour Help Line or by coming into our office during business hours. No appointment needed.


7 FAQs about calling the OCRCC 24-Hour Help Line

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Helpline Logo - PhoneAt the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC),  we spend a lot of time talking about sexual violence because it’s our job! For others, these conversations may not come so easily. Sexual violence is an uncomfortable and deeply personal topic, and talking about your experience can feel invasive. For many people, though, talking about their experience is exactly what is needed to move forward in the healing process. The Center offers a 24-Hour Help Line (also called a crisis line or hotline) to provide an anonymous, confidential space for these conversations. Here are 7 questions that might help you in deciding whether to call the help line for support.

1. I’m not sure if I this is the right place to talk about my situation. Should I call the help line?

If you have any concerns about unwanted sexual attention or experiences, absolutely call the help line. Even if you aren’t sure if what happened to you would be considered “sexual violence” — call us. If we’re not the best resource for what you are personally experiencing, we can help point you in the right direction. Sexual violence can be hard to talk about and nobody should have to sit alone in an uncertain situation. People can call our help line anytime, immediately after experiencing trauma or even years later. We provide support and resources for survivors, their loved ones, and professionals who support them.

2. I don’t know who I’m talking to. Who is on the other end of the line?

The folks who answer our help line are known as Companions. They have had extensive training on sexual assault, crisis counseling, and community resources so that they can provide a safe space to listen compassionately and confidentially to your concerns and to offer referrals for further assistance.

3. I don’t know what to expect. What happens when I call the help line number? Read more


Guns & Rape Prevention: A Dangerous Myth

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During a national town hall meeting on guns in January, President Obama was confronted by a survivor of rape for his stance on gun control. Kimberley Corban, now a mother of two, argued that the gun restrictions proposed by the Obama administration would prevent families from being able to protect themselves. She contended that it is her “basic responsibility as a parent” and as a survivor to carry a gun so that she and her children would not be victimized again.

This is not the first time that a survivor has come forward in favor of the gun lobby. In 2007 a student from the University of Nevada claimed that “had she been carrying her licensed gun, she would have averted the attack” that happened to her on campus. Unfortunately, we know that this is probably not the case. Many survivors find that their sense of safety is shaken after being assaulted, and it is understandable why an ethos of armed protection could be appealing for someone seeking safety after trauma. However, we believe that survivors deserve to know about all of the ways that their safety may be further compromised by this approach so they can base their decisions on what is known to be true, rather than on inflammatory rhetoric designed increase their anxiety and boost gun sales.

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  • 24-Hour Help Line:

    • 866-WE-LISTEN (866-935-4783)
    • 919-967-7273 (Local)
    • 919-338-0746 (TTY)