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Let's not wink at 'rape lite'--or blame the victim page 3
Acquaintance Rape: The Common Story and the Real Story

Date published: 11/12/2010


Of course, we do not know what happened in this particular incident, and that's what police investigations are for. But consider these sobering estimates: Only about 5 percent of rapes are even reported to police. About 2 percent to 4 percent of crime reports are considered unfounded. This doesn't mean that they didn't happen, only that there isn't enough evidence to go forward in the legal process.

But just for the sake of argument, let's take the higher number, 4 percent, and assume that it represents false reports. That means that for every 1,000 rapes, 50 are reported and two of those 50 are false. In other words, for every false report, there are about 475 unreported rapes. You tell me which is the bigger problem.

A small number of men commit a large number of violent assaults behind closed doors, and the rest of society shows little willingness to try to stop them. Only about 1 percent of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

Those of us who work within the movement to reduce sexual assault know that "violent rape" is a redundant term, like "free gift." One of the most important factors in survivors' recoveries is the sense that people believe them. Don't revictimize them by suggesting that they are misguided at best and dishonest at worst.

Christopher Kilmartin is professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington and co-author of "Men's Violence Against Women: Theory, Research, and Activism."

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