The largest issues facing victims of rape and sexual assault are victim blaming and stereotyping, according to Anne Munch, a former prosecutor who presented a lecture at the Cape Cod Lounge yesterday titled “Sexual Assault: Naming the Unnamed Conspirator.”
“[During college, women] have a one in four chance of being raped,” said Munch. The stereotypical rape of a woman being attacked by a man hiding in the bushes and ready to strike a woman with a weapon, Munch said, only happens with 15 percent of rapes.
There are three parties involved with rape, said Munch, the victim, the offender, and the “unnamed conspirator,” Munch said.
“The unnamed conspirator is you and me,” said Munch.
Women are perceived by society as “asking for it,” because, “if she dresses hot, how are you supposed to control yourself?” according to Munch.
She reported 88 percent of men whose actions come under the legal definition of rape were adamant that their behavior did not constitute as rape.
According to a Times/CNN poll presented by Munch, 38 percent of men and 37 percent of women said that a raped woman is partially to blame if she dresses provocatively.
To demonstrate how women are psychologically influenced by society’s view on rape, Munch played a 9-1-1 recording of a woman reporting a rape. The woman went to a bar, became intoxicated and invited a man back to her house. At her house she was hit and forced to have intercourse with him without consent. In her panicked 9-1-1 call she kept repeating to the dispatcher, “It’s my fault, part of it was, I was drinking.”
Munch said it should not matter if the girl was drinking, but society, or the “unnamed conspirator,” likes to assume fault to the victim and not the perpetrator.
In a study that polled more than 6,000 students at 32 colleges, “20 percent of college aged women experience rape or attempt at rape during college and 6 percent of men,” according to Munch, who added that 57 percent of those rapes occurred during a date.
“You are using your best judgment on a date, but you cannot tell by looking at them who they are,” said Munch. “[Often a rapist is] a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.” According to Munch, 87 percent of rape victims know their attackers.
“They don’t see themselves as doing anything wrong because they don’t have a weapon and they don’t jump out of an ally,” said Munch, “The majority admit to doing this several times, averaging between four and six rapes by the time they are [college] age.”
To further show the influence of society on the perception of rape, Munch presented a case study of a medical student acquitted of raping a college freshman at a fraternity party.
The two involved had intercourse once before at a previous party. At the next party, the medical student began pursuing the freshman again. She did not consent to having intercourse and was led outside by the medical student and forcibly raped and hit underneath a tree. Three bystanders witnessed the attack, but the medical student was acquitted by the jury. “A female juror said to the police chief that [the two students involved] had had sex before, she was drunk and looking for sex,” said Munch. She also voiced her concern over how jurors judge rape cases.
“Some jurors disregard evidence and decide rape cases based on their perceptions over the victim’s character and lifestyle,” said Munch.
Munch said this mentality is a concern over female jurors because, “women are vulnerable as a gender to the crime of sexual assault – the numbers show it.”
“We have created a petri dish where this environment thrives,” said Munch, “We need to stop focusing on victim behavior and should now focus on the conspirator’s behavior.”
Munch received her juris doctorate from the University of Denver. She spent seven years as a prosecutor for the Denver District Attorney’s office and two years as Chief Deputy District Attorney in 7th Judicial District of Telluride, Colorado. According to her website, annemunch.org, she’s currently the owner of Anne Munch Consulting Inc., and speaks and trains others in the areas of domestic abuse and violence.
Brianna Corcoran can be reached at email@example.com