Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mentality We Need to Change

This month the 2008 Annual Report of Volunteer Safety was released. (You can view the full report here: 2008 Annual Report of Volunteer Safety)

The data is comparable to the previous year's report, however sexual assaults are still on the rise. There were 128 incidents of rape, attempted rape, major sexual assault and 'other' sexual assault reported to Peace Corps.

That is 128 incidents too many.

Part of my mission is to adjust the common mentality when looking at issues of rape and sexual assault. Rape is a vicious act where the perpetrator is at fault, not the survivor. Rape is a violation of the most intimate kind which affects a person's body and mind.

Keeping this in mind, the following paragraph from the report, on page 6 under the heading Rape/Attempted Rape, was personally quite shocking:

Often both the Volunteer and the offender have consumed alcohol prior to the assault, and the Volunteer is usually not accompanied by other friends or Volunteers. Although she is typically not physically injured, she often requires medical follow‐up and counseling following the assault. In most rapes, the offender is not arrested and the Volunteer does not intend to prosecute if the offender is apprehended.

-- 2008 Peace Corps Safety of the Volunteer Report

When someone is raped, it is a physical injury. Naturally, medical follow-up is necessary along with counseling. This wording worries me of the way that women (or men) are treated after incidents of rape. Rape is a physical injury and a violation. I am shocked that this report appears not to consider rape a physical injury.

The article includes two other hot button issues - the lack of prosecution and alcohol use. Those will be discussed in postings to come as they are very important issues that deserve stand-alone posts.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

In peace.


  1. Hi Casey. Great blog. I hope it's OK that I wrote about your work here:

  2. I can't even tell you how thankful I am to find out about you continued initiatives on this issue. I just sent you an email... I am a RPCV who served in the Kingdom of Tonga. I currently work at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. I would love to talk with you about reaching out to all 50 State Coalitions. We could potentially ask them to sign-on to letters of support, which could be given to PC. Let me know your thoughts and how I can best get involved!

  3. Many thanks for your continued dedication to this issue, and huge thanks for posting the link to that report - I've been looking for it.

    I wonder if the "typically not physically injured" refers more to the attempted rapes? I don't know why they lump rape with attempted rape in this discussion, but that might explain it. Alternatively, they might be referring to cuts/bruises/broken bones, and simply failing to consider the physical violation itself as a physical injury...though that seems like a remarkable oversight.

  4. You know, that entire paragraph is really offensive, but it highlights quite nicely the attitudinal and sensitivity problems we survivors face.

    With all these violent crimes, there is a risk of PTSD, which is a physical, internal injury to the brain.