With publicity ramping up for the yet-to-be release of a movie containing a particularly violent rape scene, I chose today to respond.
There are 2 types of rape scenes. The first glamorizes rape and the second attempts to depict it in all it’s violence and tragedy.
In the movie The Passion of Christ, we saw Jesus tortured and killed. While the experience of watching this was moving for Christians and non-Christians alike, things can be taken too far.
In court rooms, prosecutors often avoid using color photographs of victims who have experienced savage physical attacks. Studies have shown that juries are turned off by such photographs and will actually lose favor for the prosecution/victim because of what they feel to be excessive prosecutorial zeel. In other words, juries feel that a prosecutor is somehow trying to paint the case so as to get a conviction “at all costs.” Juries don’t like this and will respond to it by coming back with not-guilty verdicts even in cases where guilt is evident.
I met a young woman once who said she fantasized about being raped. I responded, “Really?” I then walked up behind her and without touching her, whispered 7 words into her ear. He body trembled. I asked her if she was still interested in experiencing being raped. She said, “No.”
It is virtually impossible to truly exhibit rape in all its badness since much of the fallout experienced through this crime is psychological in nature. So while the actual criminal act can be depicted, it fails to do justice to the true brutality of the crime itself.
Next there are shows or movies that will display rapes and sexual assaults for their entertainment value. “Entertainment value” refers to part of a story or part of a story line. Again, the actual depiction fails to connect viewers to the true savagery of such attacks and it therefore leaves them with this sense of “sexual assault isn’t really that big of a deal.” The majority of these depictions merely serve (albeit in many cases, inadvertently) to minimize the true nature of rape and sexual assault.
Add to the above situation, story lines where the victim ends up falling in love with and marrying her attacker and you have entered a completely new realm of disconnect between the writers of these shows and real life. Could you picture being robbed by 3 or 4 men, who then savagely beat you using baseball bats and knives? You lose one of your eyes from the attack. You experiencing brain damage and other visible scars from the attack. Well multiply this times 100 and you might start to see how it is INSANE to think that a rape victim could ever fall in love with her attacker.
Do I think rape scenes should be shown in movies or on TV? No – - not really. Such depictions fail to ever capture the true brutality of this crime. And because of this, the crime is minimized in the eyes of the viewers.
In his study titled The Mental Health Impact of Rape, Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D., found the following:
Almost one-third of rape victims experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Rape victims were 3 times more likely than women who were not victims of a violent crime to experience a major depressive episode.
A victim of rape was 13 times more likely than a non-crime victim to have attempted suicide.
1 in 8 rape victims has attempted suicide.
Rape victims were 13 times more likely to have a problem with alcohol.
Rape victims were 26 times more likely to have some type of drug abuse problem.
Can the true nature of rape and/or sexual assault be depicted on either the big or small screen? No.