Trauma, abuse and bereavement / Category / Emile Du Toit / September 21st 2014
This 5th blog in the series of 10 discusses psychosocial beliefs and attitudes that support rape. This blog examines three vital areas that potential victims need to understand and work through to have the mental-preparedness that will best help them to prevent rape. We examine psychosocial beliefs and attitudes that support rape, psychosocial barriers to rape, as well as well as factors that increase the victims effectiveness during sexual assault.
People develop various ways of seeing the world, depending on their psychological make-up, modelling behaviour, social interactions and other factors. We then tend to hold on firmly to these beliefs. They influence our identity and in turn this influences how we filter later experiences.
We live in a male dominated society. There is no way around this statement. Yes, western democracies and indeed certain other nations have been becoming more and more ‘liberal’ when it comes to gender. Women tend to be enfranchised (though sadly not everywhere) and are also forcing their way on to the many slippery corporate ladders within the workforce. Dual-income families have become the norm in many nations and many women continue to work when they have children. So superficially women are well on their way to achieving equality.
The truth though is that many men – and indeed many women themselves – still have strongly bigoted attitudes towards a woman’s value and role in society. These play out in an array of psychosocial discriminatory beliefs about women, which have proved difficult to alter even with treatment programs.
Psychosocial beliefs and attitudes that support rape reinforce the position that women can be treated like objects, that they are often to blame if they are raped, or indeed that it isn’t rape at all!
Let’s take a quick look at how these bigoted male psychosocial beliefs translate in to an array of rape myths.
If you are reading this, whether male or female, and cannot see why any of these statements are entirely false, please drop me an email and we can take a look at the offending statement in more detail.
Psychosocial barriers to rape occur when a person’s bigoted beliefs and attitudes regarding value and roles of men and women lead to a situation where the potential victim of sexual coercion and / or an attempted rape does not feel willing or able to assert or defend themselves to try to prevent the rape.
Psychosocial barriers to effectively resisting rape include: 1. 2.
These fears too often appear to be correct, as negative social reactions such as blaming, stigmatizing, and just plain disbelief that the act committed was rape still are common in today’s society. 4. Sadly, women are in fact often blamed for being raped or for defending themselves.
It has been found that, irrespective of a woman’s psychosocial beliefs, certain factors make it more likely that they will assert themselves or fight back. Factors improving women’s assertiveness and effectiveness during acquaintance sexual assault: 2. 3.
In synthesis there are 3 vital psychosocial areas that you need to understand about yourself to help prevent completed rape:
Once again I must stress that rape victims are never responsible for being raped. Nevertheless, if this blog has done its job you should be aware that there are considerable benefits in understanding and working through any gender related or psychological issues or beliefs that might make you vulnerable to being raped.
All of us have our own unique histories, personalities, issues, weaknesses and strengths. None of these make us any more responsible for being raped. However, understanding oneself can definitely help!
Information and understanding are empowering; they help create survivors not victims!
The more that women have worked through all those rape myths mentioned above and truly believed the rational alternative, the more they will be able to assert this in the face of an attempted rape. Equally, if they have chatted to their friends, family and loved ones about their perceptions around rape it will allow them to feel more empowered and less judged.
Take whatever steps are necessary so that you are psychologically prepared to assert yourself and where necessary fight back if you are confronted by a rapist, whether you know them or not!
This series How to prevent being raped will detour slightly next week when we put on our researcher hats for part 6 of 10 Male Prevention and Treatment programs, before returning to what women need to do to prevent rape in part 7 of 10 Fighting back – avoiding completed rape.
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