Wen Li Chuer “Ming Pao”
#MeToo in Taiwan is intensifying, and more and more victims of sexual assault are coming forward to report.
Some people sympathized with the victim’s experience, but some netizens commented “I should have called the police that night”, “he/she was lying”, “she was wearing revealing clothes”, and even questioned why the victim didn’t say it back then.
These “rape myths” downplay or rationalize sexual violence and hold false ideas and prejudices about rape.
Why do victims of sexual assault not speak out at the moment? Should we take advantage of this wave of #MeToo to stand up and seek justice?
(Hong Kong News) The “rape myth” (rape myth) is the public’s misunderstanding of rape victims. For example, “you will be sexually assaulted only if you dress sexy, and the victim is responsible.”
Psychiatrist Huang Zongxian said that these allegations may affect the victim’s emotions, and even blame himself, feel guilty, ashamed, or feel that no one will believe his experience, so he chooses not to tell others about the incident, which accumulates negative emotions.
Blaming the victim for what happened
“Society has myths and prejudices about sexual violence, and sometimes blames the victims for the incident, thinking that they did not fulfill their responsibility to protect themselves, which greatly weakens the victim’s willingness to seek help, and even feels guilty and blamed himself.”
Zhuang Zihui, director of Yulan Lan, said that many victims reported that they felt hurt because of negative reactions such as ignorance, questioning, and blame from those around them, and they even dared not disclose their sexual assault experiences to others. An inappropriate response may cause more harm to the victim. The unconditional support, companionship, listening and encouragement of the people around the victim is already a great help. The first thing to do is to take care of the victim’s emotions, not to analyze what happened.
Victims feel guilty, ashamed and afraid to speak out
It is not easy to tell about being sexually assaulted. Clinical psychologist Zheng Baojun added that “sex” is difficult to publicize in traditional society, so victims of sexual assault choose not to talk about it. , the guilt and shame of being sexually assaulted is close and intense.”
We have been taught since childhood that “sex” and “love” are related, but sexual assault separates sex from love. For victims, the experience of sexual assault impacts their values, sense of security, and cognition of the world, especially sexual assault involving relatives and powerful relationships in the workplace. Fear of being threatened and retaliated makes victims feel miserable and unable to speak out. Talk about experiences in a safe environment.
“Why didn’t you resist and didn’t know how to refuse?” This kind of question is often raised in the #MeToo incident. Zhuang Zihui said that when a person is sexually assaulted, he may not be able to make a rational analysis immediately.
“When an unexpected situation arises,
It is a natural reaction to have a blank mind and a stiff body without knowing how to resist.
Zheng Baojun added that when encountering traumatic events such as sexual assault,
In the event of natural disasters and accidents,
The body will automatically initiate the 4F response:
Fight (Fight), escape (Flight),
Freeze, Fawn. “
Whether the victim is willing to talk about the sexual assault incident varies from person to person. Huang Zongxian explained that everyone has different psychological coping mechanisms for traumatic events. Some people will continue to tell the story of the incident, or publicize their experience of sexual assault in a high-profile manner; some people refuse to mention it again and avoid talking about it; some people will pretend that nothing happened and live as usual; and some people will rationally analyze the incident.
It is a personal choice whether to disclose the experience
Should victims take advantage of the #MeToo movement to come forward and report? Zheng Baojun said that everyone has their own past, and they also have the right to choose whether to disclose their sad experiences. Speaking out, this does not mean weakness, but that everyone has different considerations, and there is no right or wrong.”
Victims need to respect their own needs, some need more privacy, and some need to fight for justice. “Every choice has its degree of ‘spiciness’; if you want to fight for justice, you must be mentally prepared for the possibility of ruthless online comments; if you choose to protect your privacy, justice may not be manifested.”
The general public should support the victims who are willing to stand up and let them fight for the justice they deserve.
From different symptoms to adaptation
Victims go through 3 psychological stages
Victims of sexual assault may experience varying degrees of traumatic responses.
Psychiatrist Burgess and sociologist Holmstrom proposed “Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS)” in 1974 to describe the symptoms of emotional and psychological discomfort of victims of sexual assault.
Victims generally go through three psychological stages: acute stage, outer adjustment stage, and renormalization stage; from the initial appearance of many different symptoms to gradual adaptation, but there may be some symptoms in the middle. A state of dissociation occurs, and finally things or emotions are slowly integrated and returned to a stage with less negative emotions.
Huang Zongxian, a psychiatrist, said that RTS is not included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) compiled by the World Health Organization. It is not an official medical name, but it is similar to Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). place.
complex posttraumatic stress disorder
CPTSD has been included in the “International Classification of Diseases” as a formally diagnosed disease. Patients experience one or a series of extremely threatening stressful events and are exposed to such events for a long time or repeatedly, such as torture, long-term domestic violence, multiple sexual assaults, Repeated childhood sexual or physical abuse, etc.
The main difference between CPTSD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is that the former is caused by repeated or multiple traumatic events, while the latter is usually caused by a single traumatic event. After the traumatic event, PTSD patients will have intrusion symptoms (intrusion symptoms) lasting more than 1 month, such as constantly recalling the event or flashback (flashback), or avoiding contact with the people, places, and situations related to the event, Avoid recalling memories, negative or numb emotions, etc. As for CPTSD, in addition to general PTSD symptoms, patients may also experience emotional instability, negative personal thoughts, and difficulty maintaining interpersonal relationships.
Multiple Trauma Increases CPTSD Risk
The traumatic reaction of a victim of sexual assault may not necessarily develop into PTSD or CPTSD. It depends on the individual’s psychological state and how to deal with his emotions afterwards. Certain factors make people more likely to develop PTSD, including greater physiological responses to traumatic events, abnormal changes in brain secretion, or unpleasant childhood experiences, trauma, personality, and genetic factors. Factors such as childhood trauma, experiencing multiple traumas, and injuries caused by close relatives may increase the risk of developing CPTSD.
The most severe up to 58 years
average delay of 3.8 years before seeking help
According to Yulan’s report from 2000 to the first half of 2018, victims of sexual assault delayed seeking help from Yulan on average by about 3.8 years, and more than 10% of the victims delayed by 10 years or more, and the most serious cases lasted as long as 58 years.
Zhuang Zihui, director of Yulan Lan, said that some victims were young when they were sexually assaulted, and they did not know how to define sexual violence and how to deal with it. In addition, the lack of suitable listeners, not knowing what resources and services are available to help them, and fear of negative consequences of disclosing their sexual assault are all reasons that prevent victims from disclosing their incidents.
Male Victims Are More Difficult to Speak
Among them, male victims are often more difficult to speak. Men are often assumed to be more capable of protecting themselves, or misunderstood that having a biological response equals consent.
She emphasized that the physiological reactions during the assault process are beyond the control of the parties concerned, but are often interpreted as “agreeing” or even romanticizing the relevant violations, making the parties more self-blaming and doubting themselves; They are more afraid of being ridiculed and think that they do not meet the masculinity expected by society. Therefore, when encountering sexual violence, fewer men are willing to seek help than women.