Defiance, horror stories and rape report rates

Despite the immense wave of public admiration for Tegan Wagner’s decision to allow her name to be used in the reportage of the trial of her gang rapists, and her widely reported defiance toward them in court, it has to be remembered that some women don’t have the same attributes as Tegan that allowed her to overcome major emotional trauma from her experience.

Rape victim Tegan’s call

Positive stories such as Tegan Wagner’s defiance of her gang rapists do not cause a surge in calls to the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, its manager says.

Rather it is “horror” stories that prompt women to retrieve memories and report their ordeals, NSW Rape Crisis Centre manager Karen Willis said.

The centre had not experienced or expected a spike in calls after Tegan took the extraordinary step of putting herself in the public eye, Ms Willis said.

“Tegan did a great job – we knew she was really strong and determined, and what she’s done is incredibly difficult,” she said.

“But it’s important to remember not every woman can do that – everyone must deal with it in their own way.

“Unfortunately, the sorts of things that trigger people more are the horror stories rather than the good, positive stories.”

I’m disheartened by this information. I would like to think that actions such as Tegan’s help destigmatise rape, which is still the only crime where the victim is routinely blamed for their own assault, and that destigmatising would help to minimise the trauma that rape entails.

It feels wrong that somehow it is the more prurient reports of rapes, which dwell on horror stories, that actually lead to more rape victims coming forward to report their assaults.

Categories: Uncategorized

2 replies

  1. You’ve gotta distinguish, I think, between the news stories that prompt someone to pick up a phone the next day, and the stories that change society more glacially.Reading about what Tegan Wagner’s done might make a woman more scared than brave in the short run, but it’s part of the drip-drip-drip that transforms a culture over generations.

  2. Glacially is a good word, Brooklynite. I hope that means we get the occasional collapse and sweeping away of the ancient leading edge to expose the new surfaces with regard to rape attitudes.

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