Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Yahoo! article: The Psychology of Acquaintance Rape: Does Vhong Fit the Profile of a Rapist?

The Psychology of Acquaintance Rape:  
Does Vhong Fit the Profile of a Rapist?
by Randy Dellosa

As the trial by publicity of Vhong Navarro and Deniece Cornejo continues, the foremost question on everyone’s mind is whether Vhong Navarro really raped Deniece Cornejo or not. Whoever you believe to be victim or villain, the Vhong-Deniece incident has brought to the spotlight an all-too-common but ignored issue faced by women worldwide- that of acquaintance rape. 

Rape is the crime of coercing or manipulating another person to engage in sexual intercourse. 

Contrary to popular belief, most rapes are not committed by strangers lurking in the shadows. In fact, the most common form of rape is committed by someone whom the victim knows: an acquaintance, a friend, a neighbour, an authority figure, a relative, or even one's spouse (as in marital rape). This type of rape is called "acquaintance rape."

Even if two people were sexual partners in the past, this does not mean that rape cannot occur. Rape is rape as long as the sexual activity between two people is non-consensual. 

When rape happens in the context of a dating relationship, it is known as “date rape.” Date rapists often get their victim drunk with alcohol, stoned on marijuana, or intoxicated by a drug-laced drink. These substances usually have an effect of making the victim either ‘horny’ or physically weakened to the point of not being able resist the rapist.

However, not all acquaintance rapists use brute strength to obtain sex. Some rapists terrorize women through threats or blackmail.

It is natural for women to put up a fight against the rapist. Unfortunately, some rapists get more sexually excited by women who play hard to get and who resist their advances. 

On the other hand, some women get overtaken by terror and simply submit to the rape for fear that they may get beaten, tortured, or killed. In this case, submitting oneself to being raped is a survival strategy and should not be mistaken for consensual sex. Sadly, women who do not struggle and who “give in” to the rapist are unfairly judged as having “asked for it.” Oftentimes, these victims of rape are blamed for having encouraged or seduced their assailant.

As to the question of whether Vhong Navarro fits the profile of a rapist or not, unfortunately, there is no common or typical profile of a rapist. An acquaintance rapist is indistinguishable from anyone else. We cannot tell who a rapist is based on their age, physical looks, socio-economic status, educational attainment, religious involvement, and even from the psychological tests. Rapists come in all forms and might even be well-liked and highly-respected figures in their community. Each rapist is different in their personality traits, their motives for rape, and their “style” of raping.

What we do know are possible factors which can contribute to a man’s tendency to rape. These factors include:

  • Espousing the belief that real men should be able to "score" by hook or by crook.
  • The use of alcohol and drugs which causes an increase in sexual impulsivity and sexual aggression. 
  • Being in the company of sexually aggressive or sexually impulsive male friends.
  • The consumption of pornography which depict sado-masochistic themes, blatant sexual abuse, or rape scenes.

The five common ingredients for rape to occur are the following: 
  1. A secluded location,
  2. the presence of a woman,
  3. a horny guy,
  4. the use of an intoxicating substance, and 
  5. the likelihood of not getting caught in the act. 

Having counseled many victims of acquaintance rape, I notice that they tend to keep the traumatic incident to themselves. They blame themselves for what happened and fear that their story is going to be disbelieved or belittled by others. At times, confusion sets in as they wonder whether they are just making a big deal of the incident since the assailant was their acquaintance anyway. It is only when rape victims break their silence and undergo counselling that they emotionally heal and move towards recovery.

As for prevention of acquaintance rape, the simplest tips for women are these:
  • Avoid getting drunk or stoned.
  • Avoid secluded places.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Immediately leave a guy who makes you feel any bit nervous or uncomfortable.

Whatever official verdict is made on the Vhong Navarro-Deniece Cornejo incident, the public is now aware of how intricate a problem acquaintance rape can be. In the absence of any hard evidence regarding the rape, it becomes a case of "Deniece's word against Vhong's."  Indeed, acquaintance rape is a serious and complicated problem.  Thus, people now need to learn about it, stand up against it, and learn how it can best be prevented.  

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