Saturday, September 24, 2005

Letters to the Editor - Sexual Assault

Baltimore Jewish Times - September 24, 2005 
The Awareness Center wants to thank both "Sharon" and the Baltimore Jewish Times for having the courage to tell about and publish the Sept. 16 article "Teens Talk About Life After Rape"

"Sharon" deserves a round of applause, for surviving not only the assault, but misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, which unfortunately is way too common. It's great to hear that finally both Sharon and her family have been given the opportunity to heal.

It's so important for the Jewish community to accept that one out of every three to five women, and one out of every five to seven men have been sexually abused or assaulted by the time they reach age 18.

Sexual abuse and assault are often crimes of secrecy and silence. The problem is compounded as only 32 percent of sexual assaults against people 12 or older are reported. Reasons include fears that reporting could lead to further victimization by the offender; fears of other forms of retribution by the offender or by his or her friends or family; concerns about the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of an offender who may be a family member or friend and on whom the victim or others may depend; concerns about others finding out about the sexual assault or about not being believed; and concerns about being traumatized by the response of the criminal justice system.

The Awareness Center Inc. is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse and Assault, based in Baltimore. We are a victim advocacy organization.

Vicki Polin

Executive Director, The Awareness Center Inc.

Friday, September 16, 2005

How Safe are the Jewish On-Line Dating Services?

© (2005) By Vicki Polin
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - September 16, 2005

Unfortunately, Jewish dating online is not any safer then using any other dating service.

Below is an sample of The Jewish Online Dating Services. Prior to using any of them, youmay want to ask each company what their guidelines are when accusations of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, or other forms of sexual misconduct are made against one of their members.  At this time The Awareness Center has found both alleged and convicted sex offenders on all of these sites.  The organization was not happy with the response we got from any of them when we brought this information to their attention.

Remember offenders can be both male and female.

Marital Rape

Approximately 10-14% of married women are raped by their husbands in the United States. Historically, most rape statutes read that rape was forced sexual intercourse with a woman not your wife, thus granting husbands a license to rape. On July 5, 1993, marital rape became a crime in all 50 states, under at least one section of the sexual offense codes. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, there are no exemptions from rape prosecution granted to husbands. However, in 33 states, there are still some exemptions given to husbands from rape prosecution. When his wife is most vulnerable (e.g., she is mentally or physically impaired, unconscious, asleep, etc.) and is unable to consent, a husband is exempt from prosecution in many of these 33 states (Bergen, 1996; Russell, 1990).

Women who are raped by their husbands are likely to be raped many times. They experience not only vaginal rape, but also oral and anal rape. Researchers generally categorize marital rape into three types:

  • Force-only rape: The husband uses only the amount of force necessary to coerce their wives.
  • Battering rape: Husbands rape and batter their wives. The battering may happen concurrently or before or after the sexual assault.
  • Sadistic /obsessive rape:Husbands use torture or perverse sexual acts. Pornography is often involved.

Women are at particularly high risk for being raped by their partners under the following circumstances:
  • Women married to domineering men who view them as "property"
  • Women who are in physically violent relationships
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Women who are ill or recovering from surgery
  • Women who are separated or divorced

It is a myth that marital rape is less serious than other forms of sexual violence. There are many physical and emotional consequences that may accompany marital rape.
  • Physical effects include injuries to the vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue, and vomiting.
  • Women who are battered and raped frequently suffer from broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses and knife wounds.
  • Gynecological effects include vaginal stretching, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and infertility.
  • Short-term psychological effects include PTSD, anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Long-term psychological effects include disordered sleeping, disordered eating, depression, intimacy problems, negative self-images, and sexual dysfunction.

Research indicates a lack of responsiveness to marital rape survivors on behalf of service providers - particularly police officers, religious leaders, rape crisis counselors, and battered women's advocates. There is a need for those who come into contact with marital rape survivors to comprehensively address this problem and provide resources, information and support to survivors.