Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

I hope you have been fortunate in your life and have never experienced domestic violence or sexual assault personally, as a friend to a victim, or as a family member of the victim. This post was born of a quotation by Rush Limbaugh. In an article by Ed Mezza published in Huff Post, the following information is relayed:
Rush Limbaugh dismissed the concept of sexual consent on Wednesday, and mocked what he called the “rape police.”  
“You can do anything, the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, as long as there is one element,” the conservative talk show host said in comments posted online by Media Matters. “Do you know what it is? Consent.”
He continued: 
“If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine, whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.”
Limbaugh was attempting to make an argument for “moral standards” while at the same time dismissing the concept of consent. At one point, he even claimed “consent” somehow meant people could have sex with animals. 
“If you could get the dog to consent with you, if you can get the horse to consent, we got no problem with it,” Rush said. “And they don’t! So morality has been boiled down to consent, is my point, and it’s true.”
Limbaugh has railed against consent before, claiming it “takes all the romance out of everything.” 
“How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes,’ if you know how to spot it?” Rush said in 2014. “It used to be used as a cliché.”
 (Mazza, 2016)

An online conversation ensued about an abbreviated quote from this article, (which left out the information past the second paragraph. If more of this quote had been included in the online posting, the online discussion could have been even more heated). The comments in response to the article in our one small group totaled over eighty and was continuing to rise as I wrote this article many days beyond the original posting of Rush Limbaugh’s thoughts on rape.  
In Rush Limbaugh’s and Donald Trump’s era, (and in my own era), there were comments like, “She liked it”, when men basically raped their dates. Another was “She was asking for it”. Another, “She should not have worn that if she did not want it.” (“It”, meaning the sex the speaker of this statement forced upon his unfortunate date.) Another, “She was a tease. She deserved it.”
Yes, younger readers, this was actually the attitude of many men, towards women and sex. The man had all the rights and the women had none. Men had the ability, (sexual X-ray vision), to peer into a woman’s brain and discern thoughts about which she had no knowledge. “No” did not mean “No”. Men swore it meant “Yes” and society agreed with them-A LOT.  
Women did not have a right to flirt without rape being a potential repercussion. Stories circulated regarding high school dates in which the guy drove the girl to an isolated area and basically raped her telling her afterwards she was a tease and she was asking for it. Another trick was for the guy to take a date somewhere dangerous or remote at night and threaten to leave her there if she did not have sex with him. Urban myth? I doubt that. There were too many stories like this for them all to be false and if it worked for one guy, many of them would try the same thing.
Then to add insult to injury, a guy who claimed to succeed using the trick of scaring his date into submission would brag to his friends about his successful outcome. From the point of that conversation onward, the girl involved unwillingly in this sexual scam would be known to the group, (women and men in the “cool” group), as “easy”. This term implied she could be sexually assaulted now all the time because she was “damaged goods”. There were no “high fives” back then. That gesture had not yet come into the social scene. So, the guys would just give each other the “atta boy” clap on the back. Just like you see the men who are football players in the NFL do when a friend/player scores a goal.
A male friend commented in our online group that North Carolina has a law that states a woman cannot revoke consent for sex after the act has begun. We women online participating in this conversation went nuts. (I know men are also abused, but for the sake of not constantly writing “he/she” I am going to use the feminine pronoun for the abused and, for the abuser, the masculine pronoun.) We discussed the aspects of how this law was wrong on so many levels. I, for one, commented that women sometimes revoked consent, by asking a partner to stop, once the act had begun because a sex act hurt. Or a woman revoked consent after the sex act had begun because the sexual partner was forcing upon her  sex acts to which she would not have agreed.
I questioned the accuracy of this law and so I did some research. According to Forbes magazine-and multiple other news outlets-the Forbes article written by Janet Burns says the following:
Under North Carolina law, women cannot legally revoke their consent to engage in sexual intercourse once that act has consensually begun, thanks to a ‘loophole’ afforded by the state’s Supreme Court. For women in the state, this has meant that being physically forced to ‘finish’ a sexual encounter involves little to no legal recourse, especially compared to other forms of assault.
As VICE Media’s Broadly explained this summer, this odd state of affairs harkens back to a 1977 North Carolina Supreme Court decision in the case of State v. Way, which reversed the findings of a lower court and established the so-called loophole that exists today. Regarding the defendant’s use of violent threats and behavior to secure sexual participation from a young woman, the state’s High Court wrote, “If the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman’s consent, the accused is not guilty of rape, although he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions.”
In the decades since, this legal stance has allowed for various legal interpretations of the “no means no” (or “yes means yes”) principle, perhaps thanks to a seemingly one-sided, rather shallow take on the nature of “actual penetration.” It has also established that unwanted violent behavior during sex, as beforehand, is not a viable legal reason for having revoked consent in North Carolina, as in the case of 19-year-old Aaliyah Palmer.
 (Burns, 2017, paras. 1-4)

One of the men participating in the discussion could not understand how a woman could find herself in a position that she would be having sex with someone who would hurt her. I was taken aback. Surely this man, who I considered fairly worldly, could not be that naive about the way things are in our society? However, he indeed was out of touch with these types of incidences, about which many of us were well aware, and he could not fathom the situations that would lead to this type of sexual dilemma.
On one side of the aisle of the total population of the United States you have the “nice” men/women who cannot imagine hurting their partner in any way-especially during sex-and cannot believe someone would do so. This sector of our population tends to consider a woman who would need to revoke consent during sex as one who knowingly agreed to have sex with a person who would intentionally hurt her or one who is just selfish, vengeful, or mean.
On the other side of the aisle, are those of us who understand all too well this phenomenon. This group is composed of those who have experienced rape and/or abuse or know someone who has experienced rape and/or abuse. Also included in the group that understand the dynamics of this phenomenon are the abusers that enjoy the pain they can inflict upon their partner, whether it is during sex and/or in general day to day life.
Men and women who live to be cruel to their partners are counting on the archaic or naive views of persons like my friend, who cannot imagine someone would intentionally inflict pain during sex. Abusers are counting on someone like my friend showing up for jury duty if a woman presses charges. In his mind, she agreed to sex and she had no right to ask him to stop just because he was hurting her. (“That bitch wanted what she got”, the abuser thinks.) And, unfortunately, abusers do not wear a neon sign on their heads advertising their proclivities.
I attempted to explain that abusive men can be, and often are, charming, attentive, and loving until the time sex comes into the picture-which is often their plan. Finally, at some point a woman develops trust in the person and is comfortable enough to consent to sex. The perpetrator starts out as the partner knows him to be- kind, attentive, and loving- and then, BOOM, the abuser is forcing upon her an act that hurts her.
If the abuser is a “one-night stand” the woman has chosen, he will be charming and attentive prior to sex. The abuser will make her feel she is the most attractive women he knows. Then he will intentionally hurt her at some point during the sex act. It matters not in which scenario the incident occurs. Inflicting pain is abuse and, during the sex act when a woman is her most vulnerable state, is deplorable.  
In North Carolina, evidently that is okay-per the law. Rush Limbaugh thinks, it appears by the story, the above scenario does not happen, and rape can be romantic. After all, she asked for it. What an outdated way of thinking. Back to the days where women took what the men dished out and kept their mouths shut. The days of “the little woman” who stayed silent unless spoken to and then she spoke only with the permission of her husband or boyfriend. Who thinks a woman, these men think, has the intellect to participate in big boy discussions anyway? The men who go by the adage, “Keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant”. God, they piss me off!
Abusers are perfectly able to keep up the façade of the nice guy until their partner is invested in the relationship and/or in a vulnerable position. Once he overcomes the partner and inflicts pain upon that person, the abuser feels he has taken his rightful place as the controller of the situation and of the woman with whom he is involved. (He chooses his partners carefully-the damaged, the naïve, the ones with low self-esteem.) He wants a partner who will be so excited to have someone infatuated with her that she will allow him almost any transgression to keep him. The cycle of abuse begins here. From here on out, things are up and down.
Abusers are like serial killers in that they can be charming, charismatic personalities and persons outside the intimate relationship never suspect what is going on. Women in these relationships are ashamed they did not pick up on the type of person these men are before they allowed emotional and physical intimacy with the abuser. The abuser will certainly let her know she is the cause of her own pain. That is his “hook”, so to speak. “It is not me; it is you. If you work harder to please me, things will be like they were when we first met.”
The abuser will then spend his time playing with her like a cat with a mouse. I love you. I hurt you. You make me do these things to you. If you would just do _______. I would not become angry and need to hurt you. Then one day he will go over the invisible line and at that point, he will say he is so sorry for the pain he caused her. He will confess he hurt her and he now realizes that fact. He doesn’t know what came over him. He will get help. He just loves her so much; it makes him crazy sometimes. He will never do that again. He loves her. You are meant for each other. Here are some flowers. Let’s go to dinner. Put your feet up and let me take care of you tonight. And then the cycle repeats.
The victim begins to believe all of this is her fault. Her self-esteem hits bottom. He is right. She should have never started this relationship, she thinks, but now, she owes it to the abuser to continue this bizarre, sick dance. She tries to do everything right. (She will never do everything right. That is not his plan.) He likes causing her pain. He gets off on it. He needs to feel that power over another person. It feeds his ego. It gives him an outlet for his anger at the world that treats him wrong. Perhaps he is the type of man who is one step away from needing to kill someone. Maybe it will be her.
The other litany that is repeated over and over is “Look at you! Who else would want you?” He will be sure that he finds her weaknesses and will exploit them at every opportunity. He may do it in front of his friends, his family, and if the victim’s family is snowed by him, he may even degrade the victim to her family. More points for the abuser. He will feed her and then admonish her when she gains weight. He may coax her into drinking or doing drugs and then take advantage of her addiction.
I can hear Gretchen’s, (I will call her Gretchen to make my point), mother saying, “What do you mean he hurts you? I have met your young man, Gretchen. He is delightful. You are lucky to have found such a handsome, successful young man. You are just too sensitive!”
Gretchen watches her abusive boyfriend or husband drive into the parking lot at her work place, lock the door of his car, and enter the building when is supposed to be at work. See, Gretchen was speaking with a client when Gerald called her cell phone the thirtieth time that morning and Gretchen did not answer. He just knows she was avoiding him, and she is not allowed to do that. Everyone at Gretchen’s work thinks he is just the greatest guy. He said he was worried about her and, although he had to miss lunch to come check on his honey, he had to know she was okay.(She will pay for that missed lunch and not answering the phone later out of view of her friends, family, and coworkers.) Everyone loves him. Gretchen finally confides to a coworker/friend about the abuse to which he has subjected her, and the coworker does not believe her. Gerald is a great guy!
So, having been in this position, I resent like hell Rush Limbaugh and his archaic opinions. I urge you, if you are uninformed about this side of life that you educate yourself. Someone you know may be locked into an abusive situation and not know how to extricate themselves. Help is out there, but sometimes a woman in abusive situation is followed so closely by the abuser, she does not easily have access to information about help. This may be the person sitting next to you at work. See something, say something just like they are telling the school kids.
I am not saying you should take this person to raise, so to Southern speak. But, if you realize something is not right with your friend or your coworker, you owe it to yourself and them to ask the question, “Are you okay?” If the person is brave enough to confide they are not okay, ask if they need help and offer to help them access the Employee Assistance Program or the Domestic Violence hotline.
At least now there is a screening question about feeling safe in your home when you go to the doctor. An abused woman may answer the question honestly, if the abuser does not insist on going with his partner to the doctor’s appointment. They do that also. That gives her no chance to tell the doctor their little secret. And, he will be certain there are no marks on her at the time of the appointment. Of course if he hurts her enough, and actually lets her go to the Emergency Room, he will think of some excuse for her injuries. He will look at the doctor with those fake, concerned eyes and give his explanation of how she became injured. Oh no, he would never lay a hand on his partner! He may even let her heal before he attacks her again.
Instead of doubting or judging, realize there are things that you have not personally experienced and, therefore, about which you know nothing. There is, however; no excuse for you to continuing to know nothing about domestic abuse. There is no excuse for you to continue to blame the victim for their victimization. Just because you would not be cruel to another does not mean everyone is like you and you cannot continue to view the real world with your rose-colored glasses. For some, the real world is a very scary place and they have no idea how they could have been so clueless as to have wandered into hell.
So, thanks Rush Limbaugh and North Carolina state lawmakers. If some guy decides to destroy me, or someone I know, because they agreed to have sex with Satan in sheep’s clothing, you are telling me it is not the fault of the men for being cruel and hurtful; it is the fault of women for falling for the deception. Well, we women of America are telling you it is not okay and that you need to educate yourselves about the reality of abuse. The law needs to reflect reality and not what you wish were true.  

Works Cited

Burns, J. (2017, paras. 1-4, September 15). In North Carolina, Women Can’t Legally Revoke Consent After Sex Begins. Retrieved from Forbes:
Mazza, E. (2016, October 25). Rush Limbaugh Mocks Sexual Consent: ‘Here Come The Rape Police’. Retrieved from HuffPost:

4/12/19 Toni Leedy

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