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A Victimless Crime

April 3, 2016

As a Therapist, I have had the opportunity to deal with both victims, as well as those who commit rape and molestation. As a professional I can tell you that I believe in the concept of rehabilitation for willing and committed offenders, and I believe in the healthy recovery of those who are unfortunately the victims of sexual assault.

One of the things I find most alarming in our current society is the different way we view these crimes when the victim is a female with a male perpetrator vs. when the victim is a male with a female perpetrator.

The number of female teachers, getting caught having sexual relationships with their teenage male students, have steadily increased over the past decade. The worst part is that not even the embarrassment or the fear of prosecution seems to be able to deter these women from continuing to abuse their authority and creating more victims.

Why is this so?

My professors taught me to think outside the box and seek for answers, and with that thought, I’d like to explain my view on why this standard is allowed to persist.

We live in a society that glamorizes sex and sexualizes young teens. While we may shy away from glamorizing a male teacher pursuing a sexual relationship with his underage female student, we have no issue with commercializing female teachers sleeping with their underage student.

How many ABC Family shows (FAMILY, I said!) past, present and/or future shows will feature this element whether it was Switched at Birth, Pretty Little Liars, or The Secret Life of an American Teenager? While most of them stick to typical sexual exploits between the teens themselves, more than a few of them have used the teacher/student story arcs and we’ve “normalized” it as a society. We rationalize that it’s just art imitating life, without understanding that we’re in fact glamorizing it, not educating about it.

When these things happen in real life, we only have to log on to these stories online and read the comments to see how we feel about these issues.

How many times have you listened to some comment about how lucky these 14-17-year-old boys are for sleeping with a female teacher? These are grown men, and some of them fathers, making these observations. They ask, “where were these teachers when we were in school?!?!” Do women sit around and consider their daughters lucky for sleeping with their male teachers?

The law states that not only is it illegal and against policy for teachers to have inappropriate contact with students, but it’s morally reprehensible and cannot be consensual.

Why do so many people view this issue differently when it happens to young boys vs. girls? Do we determine how wrong these teachers are based on how “hot” she is? If the woman is unattractive by typical standards, do we view her actions differently?

If we don’t need much convincing to prosecute men who target impressionable young girls why can’t we determine that there is absolutely no difference between a woman targeting a male student and doing the same thing? If a male teacher must register as a sex offender why isn’t a female teacher prosecuted to the same letter of the law?

If Debra Lefave’s lawyer thought she was “too attractive” to go to prison and society makes an unhealthy standard when the abuser is a female and the victim is a young male, why is there any question when we treat these cases as a “victimless crime?”

There are grown men who have yet to master the complexities of maintaining a healthy relationship with an adult female. How are we to believe that a 14-17-year-old boy is in his element handling a sexual relationship with a woman who was entrusted with the sole purpose of academic education?

In many cases these women are married, and some even have children, yet they are treated as victims themselves; either they’re bipolar, or they simply made a mistake. While people consider the boys lucky, the truth of the matter is that they have to deal with the real trauma of being exposed to certain aspects of life much before their time with someone who committed a crime regardless of how you try to rationalize it.

We have to be careful in how we try to make what is a crime sound so harmless.  A female friend of mine was once raped at a party, and I carried the memory of her telling me the details of her assault. Too many men view what historically takes place on college campuses as typical behavior, but how can we blame a female victim for going to a party to have fun?

If we afford men the opportunity to go to a party where alcohol is served, how can we vilify a female for trying to have the same good time and drinks, that the men were allowed to have? Men, in all their logic, often surmise that “if a women get’s drunk she was asking for it!” This logic is not only tragically flawed, but it blames a victim for someone else’s irrational decision!

Even if you try to give merit to the “she was drunk” excuse how does this explain situations in which women are given drinks with drugs in them? It’s one thing to willingly accept a beer or other hard liquor, it’s another to be given something purposely to sedate you!

In my Sophmore year of college, I had to do an intense genogram assignment complete with detailed history of marriages, divorces, illnesses, deaths, trauma, etc… In my assignment, which I decided to go ahead and do, I had to discuss being molested by an older teenage girl several times when I was six years old. It was hard to talk about since I had spent much of my life acting as if it was just a movie I had seen many years ago.

When I was finished the room was eerily quite. The next presenter went up, a young 20-year-old, and she began her presentation by explaining that since I was able to talk about something so hard and personal it gave her the courage to do her presentation. She then shared with the class that she had just been raped a few weeks prior! She explained about considering suicide and her emotional state, and the fact that she considered me her inspiration to speak up about her own painful circumstances. I was humbled by her courage to share something so fresh and raw with the class that day.

When I hear random people on line making comments about how “lucky” these male students are or how “hot” some of these teachers are, I am disgusted at the fact that we are victimizing these kids all over again!

What happened to me when I was a child has since been broken down, dissected and strategically adjusted into my personality to help me to be a better Therapist and advocate for victims. As odd as it may sound I even used my personal experience to help me be more objective when dealing with offenders who legitimately want to work on recovery.

I hear people trying to differentiate between sex crimes and determine which is worse? Whether its called rape or molestation, no legal classification or technicality should determine how we view these crimes as normal or acceptable, right or wrong.

It’s just as tragic when a child is raped or molested as it is when the victim is a teenager or a grown women or man! There is no such thing as a victimless crime when sexual assault is involved.

When people don’t want to address or discuss the real issues they often try to dismiss the entire thing as if its a non-issue. Despite the high number of reported cases of female teacher misconduct involving sex with male students, some will suggest that its not an epidemic.

These same thinkers will suggest that reported rapes on college campuses are relatively small nationally and shouldn’t be too concerning, but they fail to understand that these things should not be happening period!

While we all may differ in both public opinion and what the law classifies as rape we can’t deny that our society plays a big role in what we accept as normal behavior. I can’t stress enough how what we entertain ourselves with plays a pivotal part in what we view as acceptable behavior.

We can’t watch Law and Order SVU and believe we know all there is to know about offenders or victims simply because this isn’t an after-school special, it’s entertainment. The show flips back and forth between portraying perpertrators as victims while forgetting the victim that they created.

As a psychology major, I was troubled by the statistic that stated because I was a victim that I was statistically in danger of creating victims myself one day. While the stats have their merits I actually believe in choice.

It’s the choices we make that define us, not our unfortunate circumstances.

In dealing with both the victims and perpetrators of sexual offenses we have a primary objective of no more victims; we say it, we teach it and we try to encourage it daily.

For some of us this is an unfortunate way of life that we must forever be aware of, but if we are successful in teaching this way of life to others, then look at the benefits of such a lesson being actually learned!

Whether it’s little boys, little girls, the physically and mentally handicap, the elderly, teens or adults, the victims list are potentially limitless. How does a civilized culture down play any sexual crime against any population of our society?

What happened to me as a child was wrong, but it was not made acceptable because it was done by a female! Because of what happened to me, I grew up with the routine of always taking all of my clothing off when I went to the bathroom, even just to pee! I was too young to even understand why I did this all the way in to my late teens to early 20’s!

I managed to turn a potentially destructive event into a life-defining purpose! What I do now as a Therapist I once did in the church for free. Its not just a job, but a calling for me. That may sound corny to some, but there are people out there who get it.

I relentlessly rant on about issues like this because I’m trying to reach others like me who see the need for someone to speak out on how society tends to make double standards depending upon who is the perpetrator and who are the victims.

Let’s all advocate for “no more victims” and for the recovery of all those that have unfortunately been victimized.

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