What Does Your Hollywood Version of Rape Look Like?

She treads water. Much like a drowning victim.

Photo credit Aimanness Photography, (Creative Commons)

At the start of every summer I see videos like this one start making the rounds through my friends via social media. Videos and articles that detail for people the dangers of drowning. They remind everyone that drowning, in real life, doesn’t look the way Hollywood depicts.

In the movies, or on television, when someone starts to drown there tends to be a lot of thrashing, waving arms, and garbled screams for help. After all, how else would the lifeguard or hero know to dive in for the dramatic rescue?

In real life though, drowning tends to be silent. Very little splashing and rarely any screaming, because the victim’s focus and energy is on surviving.

People pass around the video to remind others, especially parents, to be watchful and vigilant around water. Because if you’re thinking you can keep an ear out for screams, you may be too late.

Despite this, people tragically drown every year. What’s odd is that when it happens, you never hear or see people asking any of the following questions of near-drowning victims, families of drowning victims, witnesses of drownings, or anyone else involved:

  • Did the victim want to be swimming?
  • Didn’t the victim choose to be in the water?
  • Was the victim having fun, splashing around in the water, just prior to drowning?
  • Did the victim scream?
  • How loud?
  • Did the victim make it clear to all nearby witnesses that he/she was drowning?
  • If the victim was rescued, did he/she immediately sue the party responsible for the body of water in which he/she almost drowned?
  • If not, why?
  • If time passed prior to suing, how much?
  • Why did the victim wait to sue?

Sounds ridiculous, no? Who would ask such questions of a person who’d been struggling just to stay alive? Fighting to get to safety.

We don’t ridicule drowning victims, or near-drowning victims, for not making it clear that they’re in danger.

So why do people do it to victims of rape, assault, battery, forcible touching, etc?

Is society operating under a similar Hollywood-induced delusion that those types of attacks look and sound a certain way?

Not every rape looks like the one from the movie The Accused, violent and brutal, with screaming and fighting, scratching and gnashing. There often aren’t witnesses. There aren’t always bruises.

Sometimes, the victim was enjoying herself prior to her attack. Chatting with the very man who later attacked her. Maybe even flirting. She may wake up with only a specific soreness letting her know something happened she wasn’t fully conscious for.

Or maybe she walks away without a bruise. The only sign that she’s been forcibly groped is the invisible, internal shaking that won’t relent. No matter how much she silently repeats to herself that it will be okay.

Maybe she keeps her mouth shut because she needs her job. So she pretends for as long as she can that his dick against her leg is always accidental.

She treads water. Much like a drowning victim.

One whose method of survival others wouldn’t think to question.

We need to keep in mind that word, victim. A victim is a person harmed, whether by the twisting tide of the sea or the twisting fingers of an attacker.

In either instance, the victim deserves more from us than a cynical interview that calls their every move into question just because what they survived doesn’t match our Hollywood version of the event

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