Shinkyu Martial Arts

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Ladies, Congratulations if you are reading this, as most women don’t like to think about sexual assault. The problem with that is that sexual assault is a lot more common than you would think. One in ten women will be raped.

One of the biggest reasons why sexual violence is so prevalent is because assaulters keep on getting away with it. The fact is almost all rapists are serial rapists; they have assaulted or raped before; it went unpunished and, as a result, they feel they can get away with it. What is worse is that it reinforces their belief that they didn’t do anything bad in the first place.

In the UK only 15% of rapes are ever reported and only 5.7% of reported rapes lead to a conviction, meaning that less than 1 in 250 rapes ever is ever punished.  The image below is a visual representation of how many women are raped for every conviction.

This is what breeds the confidence of rapists and makes them think they can do it again and again. This is how we come to live in a society where 1 in 10 women will be raped. It is concerning to discover that the majority of rapists are serial rapists, because they did it before and their were no negative consequences for them they assume that what they did wasn’t bad or something they are entitled to.

Overall there is an over whelming weight of concerns that dissuade victims from reporting:

  • Concern for not being believed
  • Fear of the attackers getting back at her
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Fear of being blamed
  • Pressure from others not to tell
  • Distrust of law enforcement
  • Not wanting to have to relive the situation through prosecution proceedings.
  • Belief that there is not enough evidence
  • Desire to protect the attacker

For those that do report the crime only 5.7% will result in a conviction mainly because of a lack of evidence. Frequently the rapists can argue that it was consensual rough sex and it is his word against the victim.  When victims are told their case probably won’t result in conviction they drop the case, choosing not take the risk of retaliation or dealing the stigma of being a victim. So the vast majority of rapists whose victims went as far as reporting the crime don’t even hear from the police, let alone get arrested or go to trial.

It is heartbreaking when victims discover that the guy who violated them has done it many, many times before but nothing was done. They think “Why didn’t the previous victims say anything?” “Why did I have to go through this ordeal?” “Why wasn’t I warned?” “Why didn’t someone say?”

The point of this article is not to shame the victims who did nothing, we understand why they didn’t, but rather the goal is to point out that all women have a responsibility to themselves and each other to be part of a solution and not become another victim and an inadvertent contributor. Not just so they can protect themselves but to protect their friends, their sisters, their daughters both now and in the future.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

As a society we are always campaigning; raising awareness and educating men about how “no means no” and “silence is not consent”. We can and will continue to educate about how completely unacceptable and morally wrong sexual assault is. These are positive actions that are aimed at changing our culture, and as a society, we have come a long way with this in the last 50 years.

But sexual assault is still an epidemic. 1 in 10 is not a low number. The problem with education is rapists don’t want to hear the message. Nor can we serve them the message just before they assault someone, when they need to question their actions.

There are two things that stop someone committing a crime- the morality that is wrong and the risk and severity of consequences. It is time that we waged this war on two fronts.

YOU CAN DO SOMETHING

If we want to send a message that men shouldn’t rape, fighting back is the most effective way to make that message clear to the people who need to hear it, when they need to hear it.

Fighting back is a statement, a show of your self-worth that asserts your self-esteem. It’s is an unequivocal message, it shouts to them “What you are doing is wrong!” A message served to them at the exact time they need to question their actions and stop themselves. Maybe it this realisation that makes most rapists stop the moment you fight back. Maybe it is the fear of being caught, after all, it is hard for them to claim it was consensual when they have scratch marks all over their face and a bite mark on their hand. Or maybe they don’t feel in control anymore, that feeling of dominating their victim that they crave so intensely vanishes when they realise you’re going to make it impossible for them.

Victims who fight back, especially in the highly likely event that they succeed, are far more likely to report the crime and a get a conviction. They are also more likely to talk to others about their experience, to help raise awareness.

Rapists whose victim fights back are more likely not to rape again whether that is because of a moral epiphany or because they were arrested or convicted.

The net result of fighting back isn’t just saving yourself, it means that you attacker is less likely to rape again, remembering most rapists are serial rapists who offend again and again. So your actions may have saved other women, perhaps even dozens of women just like you. Further, the more we hold rapists accountable, the more it contributes to a shift in society, rather than being a consequence less crime that nobody talks about, we turn the tide and create a culture of public intolerance to sexual violence with actual consequences (not the one in 250 rapes chance that we currently suffer with).

Learning to defend yourself and encouraging other to do so is probably one of the biggest ways you can help stop this scourge against all women.

You may think that you will not be raped because you’re in a low-risk demographic but learning self-defence shows that you are leading from the front- setting a great example for all your sisters who may not be in such a low-risk group, think about your friends, your sisters, your daughters.  Your involvement and your willingness to learn self-defence unconsciously gives permission for them to do the same. Lead by example, do something real and be part of a movement that will stop this sexual assault more than any TV campaign or poster on the side of a bus that “no means no” or “silence doesn’t mean consent”.

The simple truth is the more women that learn and uses self-defence the more the ground shrinks underneath those serial rapists who hurt one in ten women.

There are some who might think what we are saying is “victim blaming” and the responsibility lies with men not to rape, not on women to stop them. I agree it is one of the great injustices in the world.  But I shouldn’t have to lock my car or my house either. Campaigning to educate thieves to stop thieving, will never work enough that you can leave your car and house unlocked. We live in the real world there are criminals out there. Campaigning for education and morality is great but fighting back delivers real results for those who are attacked and may also lead to other women not being attacked.

Others might say “well, of course, you would recommend learning self-defence when it is what you do for a living”. But what they don’t understand is that this is why we choose to do what we do for a living. We want to make difference.