CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President Megan O'Bryan responded to Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's statements that, in cases of so-called "legitimate rape," a woman's body can stop an unwanted pregnancy.
O'Bryan used local Cleveland and Ohio statistics to supplement her statement.
O'Bryan wrote that his statements "... demonstrate a staggering lack of understanding about the realities of rape. In fact, Representative Akin's comments represent some of the most damaging and pervasive myths that are alive and well in today's society."
"Behind the doors of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, we see clients who experience the trauma of rape every day. Rape is an epidemic crime; in Ohio 1 in 7 women has survived a rape. That means, of the 565,000 women living in Cuyahoga County, at least 80,000 have been raped."
"In response, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center would like to share these facts about rape:
- Rape survivors need to be believed and supported when they come forward. When we question the "legitimacy" of a survivor's story, we create a climate that does not encourage reporting. With only 20-40% of rapes being reported, we need to create a culture where all survivors' experiences of rape are "legitimate" and taken seriously.
- Only 4-8% of individuals reporting rape do not tell the truth; this is consistent with the reporting of other crimes. Despite being a common crime, rape still carries so much stigma that victims frequently remain silent about their experience. Many survivors who call CRCC's 24-hour hotline have never told anyone that they were raped.
- Approximately 5% of rapes result in pregnancy. In addition to this potential outcome, 97% of rape survivors experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the immediate aftermath of the attack and nearly 50% will meet the criteria 3 months later.
- Recognizing the realities of sexual violence, earlier this year the FBI changed the definition of rape, dropping the word "forcible" and reflecting the range of experiences of survivors, the majority of whom are raped by someone known to them.
"Public figures who make statements about sexual violence not based in fact disregard the complexities of this crime, and the trauma that so many women, men and children face in the aftermath of rape. Cleveland Rape Crisis Center commends the many leaders who have put party politics aside to stand up and say "rape is rape."