Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sad Lisa

She hangs her head and cries on my shirt.
She must be hurt very badly.
Tell me what's making you sadly, Li?
Open your door, don't hide in the dark.
You're lost in the dark, you can trust me.
'Cause you know that's how it must be.

What's Making You Sadly

The haunting melody of this song tells the pain of a broken young woman who carries the burden and shame of some traumatic event in her life. Her friend in the lyrics can't reach her through the pain and wall of silence. Maybe she is a witness of some unspeakable crime, or victim herself who can't speak or imagine that her life will be brighter, and her future has no hope in it. We live in a world of young men and women who have been sexually assaulted, harassed, and shamed into silence. The rapist is a thief who robs a Lisa of her spirit, and everything innocent she was born with. Therefore many rape victims walk in the shadows of fear and brokenness, while their silence gives power to criminal rapists to remain free.
I would imagine what makes Lisas or Larrys (if you will) so sad is when the betrayal comes from a trusted friend or family member. In a recent article in the Boulder Gazette, a young female Air Force cadet called her assailant, her "wing man." Meaning he was a trusted friend. Perhaps he was an ally, maybe a confidant. She felt comfortable enough to go out with him. He proclaimed himself as her protector during a night of party crashing.
"The female cadet burst into tears after learning she had been raped, the affidavit said. Nurses also noted that the woman referred to Ryerson as her "wing man." -Boulder arrest affidavit details alleged sex assault by Air Force Academy cadet The Gazette January 21, 2015
It's sad and frustrating to see that justice for the individual is not important to those who beat a patriotic drum. Or when a crime like rape is committed, law enforcement feels that the victim is not worthy of all the resources available to them. Rape is not a game for the victim, he or she doesn't report to gain popularity or to make a statement. Normally someone who has been violated doesn't want to come forward and report. They'd rather hide and suffer in silence. Victims are trapped between a damned if you report, and damned if you don't society.   Many times they confide in a friend or loved one who tells them to forget it and let time heal, or an advocate who tells them they owe it to themselves and other victims to speak out.

You're Lost In The Dark

Fortunately this case fell into the hands of a progressive Boulder Colorado justice system which quickly claimed jurisdiction over the case. I dare say if this rape had been reported to the chain of command this victim would have been subjected to victim blaming retaliation, ridicule, and even the disposing of evidence, making it a "he said, she said" issue. Will the system believe them or won't they? Too many victims have watched someone come forward to report a rape, only to be revictimized; who would walk into that den of hungry lions expecting anything different from the system?
I'm amazed that a country like America, seems to be turning more inward on this subject. We seem to be side-stepping the issue, or becoming more apologetic. We'd rather deny there is a problem in our military and college campuses. But denial doesn't make the issue go away anymore than it did during Tailhook.

Rep. Rick Brattin tries to revive
Legitimate Rape issue
Rape cripples the individual in ways that perps, shamers, and deniers can't understand. Rick Brattin is on a crusade to revive the "Legitimate Rape" issue which cost Todd Akin his Senate seat. Brattin seems to be defending his efforts for the sake of would-be fathers, which would include perps who have committed this heinous crime. If this bill becomes law, a woman might have to get written consent from the man if she wants an abortion. “It took two to come together and create a child, and right now the way it is, the woman gets the full say and the father gets no say, and I think that that needs to change,” Brattin said. “With the women’s movement for equal rights, well it’s swung so far we have now taken away the man’s right and the say in their child’s life.” He added, “It’s a child’s life that’s taken. The woman’s life is not altered.” Think Progress Lawmaker Defends ‘Legitimate Rape’ Bill
In the context of his remarks, someone who says "the woman's life is not altered," need a course in gender dynamics or a body switch! The statement is ignorant and unnerving.  Plus this lawmaker proposes to put the fate of a woman in the life of a person who may have been her attacker, just to win a pro-life argument? Some Lawmakers are using the gender rights issue to work off their own pet peeves and ride their own hobby horse, while not considering the cost to the individual or even society. And so through the eyes of the victim, he or she sees political leaders and lawmakers and those in authority as part of the problem.

She Must Be Hurt Very Badly
It is the historical issue of humanity that has become an epidemic. If you're too cowardly to face it
or choose to with warped humor or logic, it will still affect you or someone that you know.

Photo by Mary F Calvert shows the
the aftermath of some survivors of
sexual assault
As I read the article from a journalist on the issue Surviving Rape in the Military, I see a few more people are just realizing the affects that rape has on the human spirit. The apologist and haters accuse feminist of having an agenda against men. But this is not a gender issue. Individuals tell their stories from where they are coming from.

But Ms. Calvert, a photojournalist who documents gender-based human rights issues often in the developing world, could not let the story go. “Even though I’ve taught a workshop for military photographers for 17 years,” she said, “I had no idea that this was happening in my backyard. The numbers blew me away.”  Surviving Rape in the Military By Evelyn Nieves Dec. 17, 2014

She Walks Alone From Wall To Wall
A picture is worth a thousand words they say. So if you go into the life of a survivor, the smell and taste of life is different. Deep down inside many critics and shamers of this issue know it as well. But they quickly hide behind politics, or online troll rhetoric, or even political media clap trap. It's safer
 than to speak out and say rape is wrong. A few of these faces I know. They are courageous and productive people. They're contributors in battling rape and sexual assault. But many do it with the chains and weights of MST around them. Nothing is simple for them. They feel the rape was their fault. And of course there are those in our society who tell them if they were raped, they (the victim) are using the incident to gain attention. Many call this rape culture, a real culture victim status.

Kirsten Gillibrand speaks on a panel along with others on this issue of what happens when society and or the institution fails the victim of rape.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand with Tricia Bent-Goodley
"No one would say that rape is a coveted status. It's a horrific experience that can be devastating, that is life altering, and that we must do something about. ---And what we form, time and time again from survivors all across the country--- these are horrible, horrible things that happen to them. Often you hear, 'I could have survived the rape' but what I couldn't survive, was the college that I love--- the institution I was devoted to, turned their back on me. ---Not only told me I was lying, but blamed me and retaliated against me. That is the heartbreak that survivors don't overcome."

Oddly after the Penn State Scandal in 2012, we haven't learned our lesson about institutional cover-ups. When anything from child molestation to sexual assault is revealed, many react with denial. Whether its the NFL, Universities, the Church, or the Military, instinctively we want to embrace the glory, and symbolism, and never question its leadership. What is worse, we hope time will make the problem go away if we stop talking about it. In the military:

The latest annual study on military sexual assault from the Department of Defense (DOD) shows that reports of such assault rose 8 percent since 2013.  Perhaps even more striking, however, is that the incidence of retribution against those who report sex crimes is a stunning 62 percent. That means service members who came forward with allegations experienced social, professional or administrative retaliation. MS Magazine Blog December 4, 2014
The top military brass no doubt see this as a positive report. Their spin has been that victims are now coming forward and reporting, because they have more confidence in the system. But the institution continues to call for us to honor the uniform while violating a soldier basic right without retaliation.

Kirsten Gillibrand in an another attempt to bring the Military Justice Improvement Act before congress for another vote stated:
"The DOD for twenty years has failed on this issue now. And the scandal's of the last 12 months, and the latest data shows that they still don't get it." Quoting USA Today 'Over the decades, sexual scandals have spurred cycles of Pentagon apologies, Congressional hand-wringing, half-baked attempts at action and nibble-around-the-edges changes. Isn't it time that women and men who serve their country so nobly have a justice system that will serve them when they are victims of a crime?' 

It amazes me that on a black and white subject like sexual assault, we get shades of grey remarks from people like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and James Inhofe (R-OK) who use selective reasoning and accuse Senator Gillibrand of attempting to fire Military commanders with her bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
“This is no longer about reforming a system, this is a political cause going out of control,” Graham said on the Senate floor. Graham also erroneously claimed that Gillibrand’s bill would “fire every commander and replace the commander with a bunch of military lawyers.”
Emily Crockett, Federal Policy Reporter, RH Reality Check December 11, 2014 
D-NY Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand in a fiery rebuttal stated; "We're not making commanders less responsible, They are the only ones who can keep retaliation from happening--- and they are failing in that right now. The only difference that this bill makes is that 3 per cent of commanders--- the highest ranking Generals and commanders will no longer make this decision, but trained military prosecutors. 97 percent of commanders jobs do not change. They have to train their forces, they have to bring them into battle, they have to instill good order and discipline, and they have to make sure these victims aren't being retaliated against. That is where they are failing! We are making commanders more responsible, not less responsible. And what I want is not the most victim friendly place in the world, I want no victims!  And that's where we are failing!" Senator Gillibrand Speaks In Support of the Military Justice Improvement Act December 12, 2014

In my view. the jaws of sexual assault have claimed more victims. As prominent politicians, lawyers, and campus leaders stall and hand-wring this year. Committees have no answers, or default to doing nothing except asking for more time to study the issue. The year is gone and the needle has hardly moved enough to make a difference for men and women who wait for a change.    

The Boulder Gazette- Boulder arrest affidavit details...
Think Progress- Lawmaker Defends ‘Legitimate Rape’ Bill
New York Times- Surviving Rape in the Military
Ms. Magazine Blog: Military Rape Report Card
USA Today: Military Sexual Assault: Call For A Change
RH Reality Check: Vote Blocked on Gillibrand's Military Sexual Assault Bill
Youtube- Senator Gillibrand Speaks In Support of The MJIA

Thanks to Veracrusin and Rosie Palfy on Twitter as contributors and my friends
And to: Catherine (DeJa)and Jan (Jipso) for the friendly nudge.

Let's make 2015 a victorious for all victims.