Entries in Rape (9)


Todd Akin Challenged by Doctors on Rape and Pregnancy

Michael Tullberg/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Missouri Representative Todd Akin contradicted medical statistics with his statement that “women who are victims of ‘legitimate rape’ rarely get pregnant.”

After a media storm — during which Mitt Romney called his words “indefensible” and President Obama said “rape is rape” — Akin has now released an ad in which he admits, “The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy.”

There are also numerous studies regarding rape and pregnancy.  Some data show that rape can not only result in pregnancy, but it may even lead to higher rates of pregnancy than consensual sex.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every two minutes, and on average there are 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault every year.

How many become pregnant?  A 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) reported that “among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.”  This study said the rate of becoming pregnant after sexual assault is considerable, estimating that “the national rape-pregnancy rate is 5.0 percent per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45).”

In response to Akin’s comments, ACOG released a statement on Monday: “Each year in the U.S., 10,000-15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest.”

The statement said this is a fraction of the total number of rape-pregnancies, given that “an unknown number of pregnancies resulting from rape are carried to term.”

A 2003 study using data from the United States National Violence Against Women survey found that the rate at which women get pregnant after an incident of sexual assault is more than double that of a single act of consensual sex.  In this report, published in the journal Human Nature, the per-incident rape-pregnancy rate was 6.42 percent, and as high as 7.98 percent with statistical correction. Of women having consensual sex, the per-incident pregnancy rate was 3.1 percent.

Dr. Lauren Streicher, an assistant professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, said she was not surprised by the data.

“Women that have consensual sex are usually aware of where they are in a cycle…part of consensual sex is being able to say no.  It makes sense,” she said.

In response to Akin’s statement that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down,” Streicher said, “You let me know if you find the doctor that knows how a uterus knows which sperm to ward off.”

In its statement, ACOG refuted Akin’s original comment: “To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Men’s Mag or Rapist? Study Claims Few Can Tell

Digital Vision/Getty Images(LONDON) -- What do men’s magazines and convicted rapists have in common? How they describe women, a British study has found.

When presented with quotes taken from popular men’s magazines like FHM or The Rapist Files -- a collection of interviews with convicted rapists -- men were unable to distinguish the source, according to the study coming out in the British Journal of Psychology.

“Our research showed an overlap in the content of popular lads’ mags and the kinds of things that convicted rapists say when they’re justifying sexual violence against women,” study co-author Peter Hegarty said in an interview posted on the University of Surrey’s website.

Hegarty and colleagues say the quotes from rapists, which cover topics ranging from how to tell a woman wants sex to what to do when caught “red-handed,” legitimize hostile sexist attitudes.

“Rapists try to justify their actions, suggesting that women lead men on, or want sex even when they say no, and there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist,” lead author Miranda Horvath, senior lecturer in psychology at Middlesex University said in a statement.

See if you can guess the source of these quotes used in the study:

  1. “There’s a certain way you can tell that a girl wants to have sex… The way they dress, they flaunt themselves.”
  2. “You do not want to be caught red-handed… go and smash her on a park bench. That used to be my trick.”
  3. “I think girls are like plasticine, if you warm them up you can do anything you want with them.”
  4. “You’ll find most girls will be reluctant about going to bed with somebody or crawling in the back seat of a car… But you can usually seduce them, and they’ll do it willingly.”

In a follow-up study, men were asked to rank quotes based on how derogatory they were. Men’s magazines came out looking worse than rapists.

“We hope that our results inform policy debates by shifting attention to the possible dangers that lads’ mags might pose to their intended audience of young men, and to the young women with whom those men socialize,” the authors wrote.

Surveys suggest young men do look to magazines for advice about relationships and sex. But Hegarty says censorship is not the answer.

“Instead, I think it would be more useful if the government were to invest in really high-quality sex education for young men and women so that people didn’t have to rely on these kinds of media to fill the gap,” he said.

Answers: 1. Rapist, 2. Men’s Mag, 3. Men’s Mag, 4. Rapist

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Study Reveals One in Five Women Are Victims of Sexual Assault

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly one in five women have either been raped or have been the victims of an attempted rape during their lifetimes, according to a report released Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study also found that 25 percent of women have suffered a beating at the hands of an intimate partner, while over 16 percent have had someone stalk them.

Overall, 36 million people in the U.S. say they were victims of some form of domestic violence during the past year, the CDC reports. That includes men, with one in seven claiming they were at the receiving end of violence by a partner.

Linda Degutis, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, remarked, "That almost one in five women have been raped in their lifetime is very striking and, I think, will be surprising to a lot of people. I don’t think we’ve really known that it was this prevalent in the population."

These updated figures suggest that the government has greatly underestimated the problem.  For instance, The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network last year estimated that 272,350 Americans were victims of sexual violence, and only 84,767 assaults defined as forcible rapes were reported in 2010.

But Wednesday's  report put the number of women who were either raped or nearly violated at about 1.3 million last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sexual Abuse: Does Society Train Boys to Be Silent Victims?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the abuse began, Paul Treml was 14 years old, a schoolboy athlete, 5-feet 6-inches tall and 115 pounds.

His abuser, he said, was a decade older and seven inches taller, a hulking ex-college athlete who almost made it to the pros and who ran the youth sports league in Treml's Pennsylvania hometown.

For 21 years after that torture ended, Treml, now 53, kept the details secret from his even closest kin.

He started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, trying to blot out the fear, shame, guilt, hurt and assorted confusions about his sexuality that abuse survivors and the clinicians who treat them say are particularly acute for sexually assaulted males in a culture still prone to telling boys not to cry and to always be ready to defend themselves.

Sexual predators, clinicians say, are keenly aware that those complexities fuel male reluctance to discuss what happened.

"Boys are less likely to disclose," says University of Massachusetts clinical psychologist David Lisak, who works with male victims and victimizers.  Convicted Catholic "priests understood this dynamic and picked boys partly because they are less likely to be believed," he said.

Allegations that Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State University, was a serial child molester have brought those fraught realities to the fore at a time when, by the most frequently cited reference, an estimated one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18.

"As a kid, you're completely frightened by what's happening to you.  You don't know what to do or what to say," said Treml, a regular public speaker on sexual abuse of men and boys.

"In my mind, no one would believe me. Or they'd think it was my fault or I was asking for this or I was homosexual.  Those emotions become so powerful you become numb.  Then you just go into denial," added Treml.

While rape is traumatic for everyone, boys and men are more likely than girls or women to keep that violence to themselves for extended periods of time -- if not, forever -- and to grapple with a host of mental and emotional ills that accompany their decision, clinicians say.

"It's somehow much more shameful for a male to admit to being abused.  It not only stirs their sense of weakness about being victimized but also the whole issue of sexual attitude and identity," says Dr. David Reiss, who, during more than 25 years as a practicing psychiatrist, has mainly treated adults who were abused as children, including sexually assaulted males.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Scientists Developing Date Rape Drug Detector

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- A quick stir of your drink could soon reveal whether it's been spiked with date rape drugs, researchers say.

Israeli scientists say they've developed a sensor that looks like a straw or a stirrer that can detect two of the most commonly used date rape drugs with 100 percent accuracy.

"It samples a very small volume of the drink and mixes it with a testing solution," said Fernando Patolsky, chemistry professor at Tel Aviv University and co-creator of the device. "That causes a chemical reaction that makes the solution cloudy or colored, depending on the drug."

The reaction then turns on a tiny red light, alerting users in even the dingiest bars to ditch the drink.

Patolsky said the device should cost less than a drink and could be used multiple times until it reacts with a drug. It currently detects GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) and ketamine. But the team hopes to add Rohypnal -- "roofies" -- to the list within the year.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, with 73 percent of victims knowing their assailants.

But the use of GHB, ketamine and Rohypnol -- powerful sedatives that are odorless, colorless and tasteless -- is actually very low, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jaycee Dugard Sparks Powerful Reaction from Abuse Survivors

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Watching Jaycee Dugard describe overcoming the scars from her 18 year abduction gave Janice Norwood hope that her daughter, missing for 22 years, is still alive and that she will see her again.

"Seeing Jaycee Dugard and her mother, I just...that would be so awesome and I just got to believe it's going to happen someday," Norwood said.

Norwood, 62, was one of nearly 15 million people who tuned in to Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Dugard, the California woman abducted at 11 and held captive in a backyard compound for nearly two decades. Dugard and the two daughters she gave birth to in that backyard prison were rescued in 2009.

The 31-year-old Dugard gave a rare glimpse into life of an abducted person and the way a predator operates. For Norwood, whose daughter Kimberly disappeared in 1989 at age 12, watching Dugard gave her a window into how her daughter might be living if she's alive.

"I have wondered so many times like what she's been put through...I have thought of Kim being drugged up, of being tied up, locked up...I try not to think about that," Norwood said.

Norwood's daughter, Kim, disappeared walking home from a friend's house in their Hallsville, Texas, neighborhood. Norwood still looks down her driveway when she's watering the grass or plants hoping her daughter will appear. She said she gathered strength from watching Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn. Probyn described working tirelessly to find Dugard and said she always had a gut feeling her daughter was still alive.

Norwood was one of hundreds who flocked to Facebook to thank Dugard for her bravery. As soon as the interview aired, viewers tweeted and posted comments about the impact of Dugard's story on them.

One person commented, "the next time someone tells me they can't, I will say three words, 'Jaycee Lee Dugard.'"

A woman posted on Sawyer's Facebook page that Dugard is a "universal lift for the human spirit."

Dugard recounted the abuse and manipulation she suffered at the hands of her abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She also emphasized how she's worked hard to overcome the horror she suffered.

Dugard gave the interview and released her memoir, A Stolen Life, because she doesn't want to keep any more secrets.

"Why not look at it? You know, stare it down until it can't scare you anymore," Dugard told Sawyer.

That confidence and bravery resonated with several abuse survivors.

A teenager commented, "I suffered molestation for eight years from my biological father before I told my mom. It's been four years since I've told and I still have not talked about it to my therapist. Hopefully, this will give me courage to overcome my fear of telling her. Thank you."

Another sexual abuse survivor wrote, "It's so easy to 'give in' to the pain and horror of it and let what happened become you. She [Jaycee Dugard] has shown me in so many ways, that now at 51, I have no excuse for not moving on and and helping whoever I can. Thank you, Jaycee, for being who you are."

Beth Hughes, 53, said that she was glued to the television when Dugard recounted her abuse. Memories of the molestation she suffered as a child came flooding back.

"Wow, here's a girl 18 years held captive and she's sharing her story and it just made me think...if more people, not just Jaycee talk about their journey and their recovery from the pain of it, I think a lot more people will be healthy mentally."

Dugard described shutting off a "switch" to survive in the oppressive environment of her captors. "You just do what you have to do to survive," she told Sawyer. Dugard said that she doesn't feel a rage building inside of her towards the Garrido couple. Instead, she refuses to let them have any more of her. Dugard's desire to build a future resonates with Hughes.

"You can't get the time back, you can only go forward...that clicked when I saw Jaycee," Hughes said. "I feel like I needed to help even one person whose struggling with things that happened to them in childhood and it's affecting them in adulthood," Hughes said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Writer Stages Her Own Rape to Cure PTSD

Courtesy of Mac McClelland(NEW YORK) -- Mac McClelland, a civil rights reporter who has seen the impact of sexual violence around the globe, couldn't shake the image of Sybille, a woman who said she had been raped at gunpoint and mutilated in the aftermath of Haiti's catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

While on assignment for Mother Jones last September, McClelland said she accompanied Sybille to the hospital when the woman saw her attackers and went into "a full paroxysm -- wailing, flailing" in terror.

Something snapped in McClelland, too.  She became progressively enveloped in the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress -- avoidance of feelings, flashbacks and recurrent thoughts that triggered crying spells.  There were smells that made her gag.

McClelland, 31, sought professional help but said she ultimately cured herself by staging her own rape, which she writes about in a haunting piece for the online magazine Good.  The title: How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD.

Her sexual partner mercilessly pinned her, beat her about the head and brutally violated McClelland -- at her request.

"I was not crazy," she told ABC News.  "It was a way for me to deal in sort of a simulated, but controlled situation.  I could say 'stop' at any time.  But it was still awful, and the body doesn't understand when it's in a fight."

McClelland writes, "It was easier to picture violence I controlled than the abominable nonconsensual things that had happened to Sybille."

The article brought out disgust in some readers, but many more were supportive.

"I got an email every 10 minutes from a total stranger, thanking me for saying they felt a lot less isolated and they appreciated someone starting the conversation," she said.  "Some of them were incredibly intense and emotional."

Experts don't recommend self-treatment as a way to alleviate post-traumatic stress, but they say the concept of "mastery" of the situation -- or literally reliving the experience that triggered the mental breakdown -- can be effective.

"People want to feel better and have the tendency when they are feeling terrible to attempt some way at mastery," said Elana Newman, research director for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and a professor of psychology at the University of Tulsa.  "People try to make sense of the experience in any way they can with the resources they've got."

Newman said McClelland was "brave" as a journalist to address her struggle so openly, but she does not recommend that those with post-traumatic stress "put themselves at risk without controls."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pro Wrestler Brings New Voice to Rape Crisis Group

Paul Morigi/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- The world of pro wrestling is filled with crass, crushing cretins, but wrestler Mick Foley would like to add a new adjective to that mix. Caring.

Having logged more than 500 hours last year alone, Foley is one of the world's most active, and unlikely, volunteers for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN for short).

"I can honestly say, I can look you in the eyes and tell you this is as important as anything I have done in my entire life," he said.

Foley became interested in RAINN after learning that singer Tori Amos, whom he listened to before big matches, is a rape survivor and helped found the organization.

"Until meeting her in 2008, I never really examined the idea that I might be able to do something about this issue," Foley said. "Once I did the reading, I could see that there were not really men speaking out on an issue that affects everybody, and I thought that this might actually be the place where I could make the biggest difference."

Foley, now a RAINN board member, spends hours every week working on the group's online hotline where victims can get instant support.

"I often feel like the biggest benefit I can offer is just to have an ear, an understanding ear. In so many cases the people who visit our online hotline are talking to somebody about their assault for the first time ever," he said.

Foley said it was hard to grasp the idea that he wouldn’t be able to help everyone.

"There are visits that don't end the way you would like them to," he said. "I think the biggest qualification that someone has to have to be a volunteer is the ability to have their heart broken pretty regularly and carry on."

Foley puts in hours -- and money. He recently raised more than $100,000 for RAINN.

"If I had two messages, it would be 'No means no," and I would ask every dad to go home and talk to their son and let them know that when it comes to being a man, there's nothing more important than respecting a woman," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nearly Every Minute a Woman is Raped in the Congo

Tom Stoddart/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- By the time you finish reading this article, five women in the Congo will have been raped.

In what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls "the worst example of man's inhumanity towards women," a study reveals a violent war against women happening within the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The "Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo" study, slated to be published in the Journal of Public Health in June, estimates that 1,150 women are raped every day -- a rate which equates to 48 rapes every hour.

"The scale of violence is much bigger than we thought," Lisa Shannon, founder of the human rights advocacy group A Thousand Sisters told ABC News. "It is no longer strictly a weapon of war because of the breakdown of government -- the cultural impunity has metastasized and the epidemic is no longer contained. We now know high levels of sexual violence exist even in non-conflict areas."

The DRC has been politically unstable since its founding. For the past 15 years, eastern Congo has seen a series of rebel groups terrorizing citizens, often as a show of power to exploit the country's mineral riches.

United Nations officials have described the Congo as the epicenter of rape being utilized as a weapon of war.

The Congo, which is the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River, is cut off by thick forest and is characterized by the widest interstate war in modern African history, making surveying sexual violence dangerous and difficult. In addition, many rape victims are frightened to report the crime.

Although the United States government pledged $17 million in 2009 to help fight the epidemic of rape, progress has not been seen on the ground. The study found the rape rate to be 26 times higher than regularly quoted by the United Nations.

According to aid workers there are institutional problems with combating the epidemic of rape in the Congo. The biggest problem: rapists are not brought to justice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio