The head of the International Monetary Fund has been accused of attempted rape and sexual assault.  Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s (DSK) attorneys say that their defense will be one based upon consent.  Am I shocked at this line of defense? No.  In light of the accusation, another woman has stepped forward and recounted an attempt at rape that occurred ten years ago.  Again, am I shocked? No.

DSK has been arrested, and is in solitary confinement at Rikers Island Jail.  Good.

Look, I get it, “alleged” criminal.  I am all about defendant’s rights, but the fact of the matter is, if someone was accused of robbing this poor woman from Guinea, the assailant would be in the same position.  He has been accused of one of the gravest violations of another human being.  Inga Mucio describes the traumatic and suffocating feelings that a rape victim encounters in her book “Cunt,” and I couldn’t agree more:

It feels as though someone took a shit right on your soul. And you will spend the rest of your life trying to clean it off in whatever way you see fit. Some of us never get clean. Some of us just give up. Some of us kill ourselves; the ultimate clean…ridding our souls of the body that was tainted by the ugly act of hate…

I have been hearing stories all over the news about this story, and all of the newsworthy bits seem to be surrounding who will take over the IMF.  It is reasonable to wonder who will replace this bastard, I mean, this guy.  BUT, where is the story about this woman?  I don’t mean details about her as an individual; where are the professionals that could capitalize on this headline news story, and use it as a learning tool for the public?

I am scared for this woman.  I am scared what a trial will do to her emotional well-being.  I am scared because she is scared.  I am scared that she is contemplating the “ultimate clean” that Mucio describes.  Stories like this scare me because I hate living in a world where women and children are raped (men also experience rape, and that is not something I’m attempting to trivialize).  I want people to talk about her healing-the stuff that happens outside of the courtroom.

Sadly, this story is all too typical.  A man attempts or successfully rapes a woman.  The first victim doesn’t speak up, because she doesn’t want her reputation to be tainted.  We blame the victim (that’s why I never spoke up, and that’s why most of the victims I know never said a damn thing).  The victim is often on trial in rape cases; it is a sad and understandable fact that women are afraid to speak up. BUT, rape is a serial crime. If someone is willing to attempt, or successfully commit rape once,  they will likely do it again. We need to find our voice.  I am so proud of the brave woman that immediately went to the authorities.  It may not seem like it now, but you did the right thing.  You did the right thing.

This story, this horrific event that happened, it could be a learning tool.

Women who experience sexual violence are likely to experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and the like.  Victims of sexual violence need counseling after they are brutalized.  If you seek counseling you don’t have to prosecute- that should be the story that is splashed on the front of news pages. You can get help in a private setting; there are people that will believe you and they will not force you to engage in any part of the prosecution process, unless you ask for their help to do so.

This isn’t your fault.  That’s what I want to hear from news agencies.  It is never the victim’s fault.

The alleged victim of this crime is a minority, she worked in a service-job; here his is a prime example of the sad and true fact that class and race intersect with gender in negative ways more often than not.  Racism and sexism intersect, and in a world where violence is a cultural norm, that intersection is the breeding ground for a huge problem  Rape is the symptom or a larger problem. Where is this information on NPR? (In all fairness, I may have missed some of these stories, but they should be so prevalent at a time like this that they are impossible to miss.)

I hope that the women attacked by DSK get help.  I hope that the media treats them kindly, and I hope that this story is used in such a way that the public can learn about this problem.  I hope that this story leads to a dialogue about solutions, and not just solutions for interim leadership at the IMF.

It is never too late to tell someone and get help.

For the national hotline call: 800-656-HOPE(4673) or visit the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network online.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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