“Nice guys”…rape

Okay, I grappled with the title on this one. The topic overlaps on so many of my posts about women’s credibility in abuse allegations and men’s “nice guy” portrayal in the media. Here were my options:

1) “Nice guys”…rape

2) He’s “not that kind of guy”

3) Liar until proven honest

Read Jaclyn Friedman’s:   How the media should treat sexual assault allegations against Al Gore

The Tribune piece asks the question, “How can you judge the credibility of a sexual assault charge when there are no witnesses and apparently no physical evidence?” It’s a good question, but why not ask, “Why, in cases of sexual violence, is the victim assumed guilty of lying until proven innocent?” We assume that accusers of other crimes are credible enough to report unless there’s clear evidence to the contrary: a repeated history of making false claims, for example. Or evidence that the two people in question weren’t in the same place at the same time. Barring these sorts of clear contravening evidence, media outlets should consider sexual assault accusations credible enough to report.

Why indeed. Other victims of crimes are not presumed to be lying. Research finds it’s bias and NOT that other women have made false allegations and, therefore, have made it harder for honest women to be taken seriously.  

But sexual predators aren’t monsters. They’re men (about 98 percent of them are, anyhow). They can be handsome and seem kind. They can be well-liked. They can do you a favor and think nothing of it. They can kiss their wives in public and mean it. They can be brothers, boyfriends, best buddies, talented film directors, beloved athletes, trusted priests and even (prepare to clutch your pearls) lefty political heroes who seem like genuinely nice guys. What they all have in common is the sociopathic rush they get from controlling another person’s body.

What’s more, our fierce attachment to the idea of the obvious monster has the exact opposite of the intended effect: it puts all of us in great danger. Every time we indulge it, we give cover to the actual sexual predators among us: we discourage victims from reporting because we’ve already told them we won’t believe them, and, when charges do get filed, we’ve already encouraged the police, prosecutors, judges and juries to make like we do and find whatever reasons they can to dismiss, diminish and deny justice. All of which means that these guys—these nice-seeming guys in your community—are free to attack again and again. Which, research shows, they do.

If you’ve ever seen Dateline’s To catch a predator or watched America’s Most Wanted, you’ll understand that most of these men who commit abuse and murder are seemingly “nice guys.” They’re men that look like your neighbors, like your boss, hell, to me, they’re men I might consider dating. They’re not nice though, are they? But they come with no signs on their foreheads, no warning signs, no monster masks….

5 comments on ““Nice guys”…rape

  1. […] the testimonies of rape victims in ways that are not present for other crime victims, by thinking “only monsters” rape and refusing to believe a nice guy could do it etc.), b) make women more vulnerable to rape or deny […]

  2. denelian says:

    so very late –

    Kevin;
    that’s a powerful tale, and i can feel it. mine was different – my step-father, over the course of almost 4 years, and there were 2 kinds of people in my life, those who really truly believe that he was a “nice guy” and that the rumors must be JUST rumors, and the people who really truly thought he was a “nice guy” who had been *seduced* by the 12-year-old stepchild that he beat on a regular [and public] basis.

    so… i CAN’T read your book. not yet. still digging thru my PTSD. but… it’s on my list, for when i *CAN* read your book.

  3. […] reminder] Imaginary person raped imaginarily? By a myth0logical […]

  4. miss j says:

    Hi, Keith. Thank you for sharing your story – I know it takes a lot of courage. I also agree wholeheartedly with you that victims cannot be silent. Silence empowers abusers. And, also, while I write about women’s issues, I want to see men come forward so that we can all be healed. Best wishes to you.

    J-

  5. Keith Smith says:

    My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

    I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

    In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

    Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

    Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

    Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing with very few people the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other victims know that they’re not alone and to help victims of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience. For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

    Men in My Town is the story of my abduction, beating and rape and the unsolved brutal murder of the man who attacked me.

    Men in My Town by Keith Smith, available now at Amazon.com

    Autographed copies available exclusively at {Indie}Pendent Books, http://www.indiependentbooks.com

    For additional information visit the Men in My Town blog at http://www.meninmytown.wordpress.com

    Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

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