Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Somewhere to Turn


By Marcella Chester

I understand the harm done when we fail to properly fund services for sex crime victims, and what it will mean for others who are raped. I was raped at age 15; before resources were widely available to help rape victims navigate their choices related to the law and recovery.

After I was raped, I reached out to three different types of helping professionals. All of them failed to properly assess the cause of my trauma. All of them assumed that because the person I was trying to communicate as being my rapist was my boyfriend and I used the word unwanted instead of raped, that I was simply regretting becoming sexually active. These well meaning professionals didn't have the training to recognize that I might be a rape survivor, and to ask the right questions. Even if they realized that I had been raped, they certainly wouldn't have been able to help me see my rapist held accountable because at the time, rapists were described as strangers. Boyfriends might go too far, too fast, but they were never rapists.

In 1974, the research did not exist and these resources were not adequate. In the last few decades, thankfully, the scope of the problem has been considerably more researched.