Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bystanders Must Stop Rapists

I listened today as a mother described her daughter's rape. She began by relating how her daughter got into a troubling relationship with a boy as an early teen, how her daughter was abused by the boyfriend, physically and verbally, how her daughter broke off the relationship, how her daughter dated a new guy who then became her boyfriend, how, when the new boyfriend broke it off, the old boyfriend lured her daughter to his home to 'help sort it out' and when she arrived the old boyfriend raped her while a friend of his watched.

As I listened to the account I felt my anguish grow for the girl, her parents, her brother and sister, and her friends. So too did my disgust grow for the rapist, the deviant, perverted rapist. But the boy I loathed most was the boy who watched and did nothing. He is the one I can't figure out. A rapist ends up in the penitentiary but what happens to the guy who hides and watches? Why do I despise this coward so much?

In a moment of self reflection I wonder if there is a piece of him in me. Like when I've turned a blind eye to the sexual antics of my male companions or when I’ve let slide the derogatory word or comment about women. When I’ve passed-on an email that degrades women to the point of being objects of sex and not human beings. When we, males, laugh and wink when a guy at a bar explains that he intends to get a woman drunk so he can have sex with her. These are all moments of weakness committed by the ‘innocent’ male bystander.

I do know that I loathed that young man because he did not have the guts to stand up and stop the rapist. It seems we, men, too often stand by with our hands in our pockets knowing that something might happen or does happen but our code says we shouldn’t say anything. Our code says we should laugh or worst case, we watch. We pat each other on the back while a guy's sister, another father's daughter, a mother's child becomes a victim of the big guy, the rapist, the man men don’t stand up to.

I felt the anguish of the mother today. I could see the hug she received from her daughter who once was a victim but who today has rebuilt, and constructed a new life. I also felt my anger toward the rapist and his buddy the onlooker, the ‘innocent’ bystander, the observer who did nothing. Was he a victim also? That guy needs to find his voice. He needs to stand. He needs to man-up as they say in sports and protect his corner of the world. We all need to man-up against men who rape.

I found in her story today another definition of heaven. Heaven would be knowing that a mother and a father never again have to relate a story like that about their child.

What can we do to stop the men who rape?

Ken Mellard

Attendee at the MOCSA Johnson County Fall Luncheon

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

tougher consequences...

Anonymous said...

Men need to campaign against sexual assault the way mothers took on drunk driving.

Anonymous said...

as a brand new mom, i reacted to this blog not only as a woman but a mom, too. i believe tougher consequences, education and teaching respect is the place to start.

rachel said...

The "innocent bystander" can be described using many adjectives, not one of them relating to innocence. The friend is just as guilty for allowing it to happen in his presence as the rapist is. He is responsible for the rape, too. How a person can rape another human being, how a person can physically harm another, or how someone can watch a friend hurt/rape someone is so far beyond me it's unreal. Educating people (especially at a young age) is the first step to preventing rape from occuring. But, if you are involved in a rape, either as the rapist or as a bystander, you are GUILTY of committing a horrific crime and you should be punished until you know the full extent of the hurt you have inflicted on another, no excuses.

Katie said...

We should all be held accountable for our actions as well as the ones we see and allow to happen/don't stop. One of the hardest things is to be faced with something you never thought possible and react instantly in a way that takes guts. By educating people about these types of situations, you are forcing people to think of the consequences and decide beforehand what they would do in such an instance. Hopefully by making someone think through the situation prior to it ever happening, they will then be prepared to make the right decision when faced with the challenge. Rape is a horrible act and the more that people know about it, the less likely I believe they are to allow it to happen. Rape does not only affect the victim as seen in this story; it affects the family, friends and all who hear of the situation. We all have to work together to keep these things from happening.

Anonymous said...

Educating our young people about rape and appropriate boundaries is extremely important, but adults are also lacking in this knowledge. Rape is a very dfficult subject to discuss. It is happening in our backyards! Let keep learning and talking.

Anonymous said...

As the father of 2 young girls this is one of my worst fears. I thankfully can't imagine what the parents feel at a time like this. Not to say it is worse than the victim, it is not. Education of boys is the best long term solution in my opinion but for the short term harsh punishments for the offenders is the way I would go. CJ

Anonymous said...

As a society we must stop sexualizing our children. Do our 9 & 10 yr old girls really need to dress like Brittney Spears or other adult pop icons?

Anonymous said...

This is a moving story. I fear our cluture too often dismisses your view and passion regarding violence to women. . . and that is sad.

Jan H said...

Perfectly said ... men and women, boys and girls need to stand up for what is right. It happens all the time ... we let jokes about sex, race, whatever slip by. It's time we stop giving silent endorsements to unacceptable behavior.

Anonymous said...

In the news today...the OSU football player who raped a twelve year old girl and will still receive his scholarship to OSU, and is punished by being suspended from the team...essentially suspended with pay. What a message for OSU to send?
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3101201

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your blog/comments. We must educate people about the way they are harming women with their speech as well as their lack of action. As I have always told my now adult sons...think how you'd want someone to treat one of your sisters.
Thank you for the man-to-man approach.

Anonymous said...

What can we do to stop the men who rape...Education is important, but we also need to provide better support for the women who have the guts to report a rape. Many rapes go unreported - in part because women often blame themselves (as a previous entry discusses). However, women who report rapes often have an uphill battle and society is not always kind to them. Some men, in turn, might think this is a crime that they can "get away with." Support for the women in our lives is important before anything happens so that, God forbid, if something does happen, they will hopefully have the strength to fight the very difficult emotional, physical and possibly legal battle.

Anonymous said...

I think that to stop rape early education is a must. The education must come from the home, school, clubs/sports, and society. It also takes more advocacy groups across the nation.