I am not your normal beautiful. But that does not matter. It did not matter to my rapists. Often people disbelieve the survivor’s account because she is not "good-looking". If they do believe an assault occurred, they tell her she should be grateful someone "did" her. If she is generally considered beautiful, people will blame her attractiveness. The thing is, the focus is VERY rarely on the fact that it is the Rapist who rapes, regardless of what the people they attack look like.

I have the disgrace of having encountered a number of rapists, and let me tell you: They did not look like rapists, or how we imagine them to look like. And what I am saying here is that we are usually led to believe that rapists are monsters that look like monsters. But truth be told, they only show their “monster” face when they are ready to prey on someone: someone the rapist considers is vulnerable at the time the attack occurs.

But the question remains: What does a rapist look like? Of course there are all sorts of rapists. However, what brings them together is the taking advantage when they think they are in control of the situation part. Some of them, actually a very few, lurk in the dark alleys waiting to attack. A second type will groom their selected victim until the time is ripe. But the great majority, are just opportunists: normal men that in their day to day take the opportunity to abuse someone they think will not be too much trouble. All this because THEY KNOW they can get away with it. They will find an alibi. They are using their normal face most of the time. They could be sitting next to you when you eat Sunday roast. Or they might be drinking beer at your table. They probably mingle with you at your Christmas and birthday parties. You may have seen them as they give money to charity, or sitting at the bus stop reading the news, or parking their car opposite yours, or going to the same church. In other words, if you bumped into them you might not suspect anything because to you they might seem to be leading a “normal” life. We are surrounded by them. They are your normal type of men.

This issue has a number of implications. For example, disbelief when a survivor dares to speak because there is no “evidence” the rapists could be doing such horrible things. And this is just one of the many repercussions that opposes a victim who has decided to come forward. In this instance she gets re-victimised every time people blame her for not “choosing” the right partner, for not “avoiding” dangerous situations, etc. Or what is even worse, for falsely accusing an innocent “normal” man, because of course he would not harm a fly, ever.

This is not me making things up. Look for yourself. There had to be a fair amount of accusations about Weinstein and Nassar before they started to be condemned for their actions. Or what about survivors reporting against Nick Carter or Affleck? Well, they have been discredited and largely silenced. But you know what? Get over it. Handsome men rape too! The monstrousness is a fallacy. Here you might argue that these are only famous figures, but if you want to understand the proportion of it all, look at the reports, crack on with the numbers and figures. It is usually granddad, step-dad, the partner, the ex-partner, dad, a family friend… someone the survivor trusts. It is rarely a stranger hiding in the bushes. So, next time you think about a rapist, do not picture a shadow with sharp teeth and crooked arms. And more importantly, if you ever hear a survivor’s story, do not focus on the “seamless” appearance of the said attacker.

For as the old adage goes: Do not judge a book by its cover.

#Issue17 #DianaBarbara #CreativeWriting

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