The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


September 2012

“Some Kind of Love, Some Say” Maya’s poem on violence suffered by women.

I came across an old post I wrote for the rape crisis center I work at, where I did a poetry review on Sunday’s. I decided to review poetry written about and in response to the pain and suffering of violence. How do people write about rape, sexual abuse, violence? How does one use poetry to write about the unbearable, the unthinkable, the unimaginable? I’m starting with Maya Angelou’s poem: “Some Kind of Love, Some Say”

“is it true the ribs can tell

The kick of a beast from a

Lover’s fist? The bruised

Bones recorded well

The sudden shock, the

Hard impact. Then swollen lids,

Sorry eyes, spoke not

Of lost romance, but hurt.

Hate often is confused. Its

Limits are in zones beyond itself. And

Sadists will not learn that

Love, by nature, exacts a pain

Unequalled on the rack.”

What do you think about this poem, how does Maya use poetry to write about intimate partner abuse? What does her title mean? So often such abuse, violence and rape is couched as love, described as caring to try to lessen the harsh reality of power and control dynamics. How does language get used to try and change the perception of abuse as necessary action, as love, as teaching? How did this dynamic of needing to control others through pain start?

Do you have poems you would like to share? Do any of my readers write about their experiences through prose or poetry? I would love to read them, please feel free to share here either in the comments or I am happy to have you guest post.

Profiles of Rapists

This week I was a guest provider in a domestic violence support group at a local domestic violence shelter. As some of the group members also had issues related to sexual violence and abuse, they asked me to come and talk about offenders. So I thought I would post information I give out in my work at a rape crisis center about the personality characteristics of rapists.

The FBI has established four personality characteristics to predict the behavior of rapists, defined by motive, style of attack and psychosexual characteristics. While most rapists will fit into one of the profiles, due to the fact that there are a variety of personalities, there is no one correct characteristic for a profile. Suspects may exhibit characteristics from one or more of the profiles.

Power Reassurance Rapist – 81%

To resolve self-doubts by reassuring himself of his masculinity with no real intent to further harm his victim.


Surprise Approach with force.
Strikes between midnight and 5 am, usually at the victim’s residence.
Selects victims through voyeurism.
Attacks victims who are alone or with small children.
Negotiates with the victim.
Does whatever the victim allows him to do.
Attacks in his own residence or work area.
Commits single assault.
May keep a diary.
Social Interaction:

Few friends
Self-concept as a loser
Menial job with little public contact
Power Assertive Rapist – 12%

To resolve self-doubts by reassuring himself of his masculinity with no real intent to further harm his victim.


Exploits opportunity after one or two dates
Slaps, hits, curses, tears rather than removes clothes
Waits 20-25 days between assaults
Performs multiple assaults
disrobes victim
Doesn’t use mask or disguise
Social Interaction:

Flashy car
frequents singles bars
“Hard hat” act
“Macho” type
Anger Retaliatory Rapist – 5%

To punish or degrade women by getting even; uses sex as a weapon for real or perceived injustices placed on him by women.


Acts spontaneously
Commits assaults in his own area
Social Interaction:
Minimal contact with others
Works at “Action jobs”
Anger Excitation Rapist – 2%

Infliction of pain or erotic aggression.


Uses premeditated con-style approach
Immobilizes victim
Assaults away from his area
Uses weapon and/or tools of choice
Usually records his assaults
Learns quickly by experience
Does not experience remorse
Social Interaction:

Family man
“Good marriage”
Middle class
The experts have isolated a number of factors that can predispose one to becoming a rapist. Watch out for the following:

Emotional abuse
Tries to control elements of your life
Gets easily jealous
Gets angry if you offer to pay on a date
Is physically violent
Doesn’t view you as an equal
Is intimidating in a physical and emotional way

The following tips could well save you from becoming a victim.

Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with a person you don’t know well.
Check the credentials of anyone you let into your home (i.e. repairmen, market researchers)
Date in groups or with a chaperone until you are comfortable with your partner.
Set firm limits on the amount of physical intimacy, if any, you will allow on a date.
Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable around a guy, get away.
If trapped with someone who is intent on rape, try passive resistance first. Try talking, screaming, even vomiting if you have to.
Failing passive resistance, move to active resistance. Don’t hesitate – fight back! Get angry – not afraid – that this person would dare to violate you. Bite, kick, scratch – whatever it takes.
In a date rape situation, use the shock tactic of calling the attack what it is. “This is rape! I’m calling the police,” may put a halt to the attack.
If you are unable to fend off the attack, concentrate on remembering details so you can identify the assailant later. Scratching him will leave forensic evidence with you.
If you are overpowered do not condemn yourself for not being able to resist.
Given that the goal of all women who are in imminent danger of being raped is to avoid it, they should rely on their instincts rather than assume that they have to submit. But whatever her instincts tell her to do, if a woman survives, she made the right choice.

Call your local rape crisis hotline is you need help, need information, and need support.

PERK Exams – What are they and what are your options after an assault

After yesterday’s post, I thought I would follow up on that topic by explaining about the process for securing evidence collection after a sexual assault.

Your safety and health are most important. Please consider seeing a health care provider even if you don’t want to make a report to police right now. The health care provider can check you for injuries and talk to you about possible pregnancy concerns and/or sexually transmitted infections. Whether or not you are ready or want to report the assault, the health care provider or trained forensic nurse examiner can also collect evidence of the assault from your body. This is called a P.E.R.K. exam.

Where can I get support and information?

Sexual Assault Crisis Centers have staff and volunteers who are trained to provide free crisis-intervention and counseling services to people who have been sexually assaulted. They also have people trained to come to the hospital and/or the police station to help you.
In Richmond, the hospitals that have forensic programs are: St. Mary’s Hospital and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV).

What is a P.E.R.K. exam? (Physical Evidence Recovery Kit)

A P.E.R.K. is a special medical exam given to people who have been sexually assaulted to collect evidence that may be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the sexual assault. If you think you may want to report the assault to the police, the sooner you have evidence collected, the better.

How soon should a P.E.R.K. exam be done?

A P.E.R.K. exam needs to be done within 72 hours preferably. Most often will not be done if more than three days have passed since the assault (although some sites will do exams up to 5 days).

Do I have to have a P.E.R.K. exam?

No. If you have decided that you do not want to make a report to law enforcement now or in the future, then having evidence collected by having a P.E.R.K. exam may not be the right choice for you. Advocates from your Sexual Assault Crisis Center or the statewide Hotline (Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-838-8238) can help you through the choice to have or decline a P.E.R.K. exam.

If I don’t have a P.E.R.K. exam, will the police be called?

By law, health care providers DO NOT have to report sexual assaults to the police unless there are certain weapons used during the assault (Virginia Code: 54.1-2967).

Note: Health care providers may have to report the sexual assault if you are under 18 or an adult who depends on another adult for care.

Who will pay for the P.E.R.K. examination?

The Commonwealth of Virginia will pay for the costs of the P.E.R.K. exam. You do not have to participate in an investigation to have the P.E.R.K. paid for. Your insurance will be billed first if you have Medicaid, Medicare, CHAMPUS, Tri-Care or another type of federal insurance. If you do not want the insurance information to be sent to your home, please tell the health care provider.

If I choose to have a P.E.R.K. exam, what do I need to know?

If at any time you are uncomfortable with any part of the exam, you have the right to stop the exam. If you have questions about what the doctor or nurse are doing, you have the right to ask.
You have the right to a P.E.R.K. exam without having to talk to the police at the hospital or anytime after the assault. If you have concerns about the police.
If you want to report the assault, the police will most likely talk to you at the hospital to get more information about what happened.
If you are unsure about reporting or you are not ready to talk to the police at the hospital, please tell the doctor , nurse, or police officer.
If you are not ready to talk to the police or report the assault, the police will probably still be called to the hospital to pick up the evidence. At this time the doctor or nurse will most likely have to give the police some information about you. If this concerns you, please talk to the doctor.
You may be responsible for other costs associated with the assault. Contact the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund for more information on costs and payments.
If I choose not to talk to the police, what do I need to know?

You can make a report to law enforcement any time you are ready. If you decide that you want to report the assault to the police, you can call 911 or your local Sexual Assault Crisis Center to help you make the call.
If you decide not to talk to the police immediately after the assault, other evidence may be lost. Immediately after an assault, the police usually try to collect other evidence from the suspect(s), the crime scene(s), and/or from you.
The sooner you report the assault to the police, the better the chance for a successful prosecution of the offender for the assault against you.
If you have questions, please call:

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238
Crime Victim Assistance INFO-LINE at 1-888-887-3418 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri)
Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund at 1-800-552-4007

“Coping with Sexual Assault: A Guide for Professionals and Volunteers Working with Sexual Assault Victims” copyrighted by Sugati Publications at

Virginia Executive Order 92 signed in by Tim Kaine

A reminder on positive steps Virginia’s former Governor, Tim Kaine established under his leadership for victims of sexually violent crimes in Virginia.

On September 28th, 2009, Governor Kaine signed into place Executive Order 92 This order directs the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services of the Department of General Services to accept and to store physical evidence recovery kits received from health care providers.

Under Section B of 19.2-165.1 of the Code of Virginia, “victims complaining of sexual assault shall not be required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement authorities in order to be provided with such forensic medical exams.”

Then Governor Kaine heard the issues that arose from between the regulations that victims can request physical evidence recovery kits prior to reporting to law enforcement and the lack of requirement of law enforcement to pick up the kits in the absence of a report. Many victims need more than 72 hours to make the decision to report. Additionally, sometimes law enforcement chooses not to pursue taking a report if they are uncertain of the evidence. This left victims often without recourse to get evidence collected and the kits established without reporting first. This provision now allows victims to request kits and allows forensic nurses to mail the kits to consolidated labs in a manner that retains the chain of custody. Once the report is made, the kits can then be examined and the evidence collected used in the prosecution of the case.

Yeah to Tim Kaine!! This sensitive and timely act has helped to encourage victims to get the evidence collected in the required time period and facilitate investigation and prosecution.

Some facts and info on sexual assault

After today’s Abolish the Blame event and seeing the number of young people who attended, I decided to provide information about sexual assault of college students.

Sexual assault/rape on college campuses is more prevalent than many people realize. While colleges may report low numbers, the local rape crisis and domestic violence center will provide much higher numbers.

According to the American Association of University Women and local rape crisis centers,

20 to 25 percent of college women are raped while attending college.
65 percent of these attacks go unreported.
Alcohol is involved in 75 percent of attacks.
{Source: The American Association of University Women, 2004)

These statistics mirror statistics of sexual assaults globally, 1 in 4 women are victims of sexually violent crimes. Why is such a high percentage of assaults unreported? Many colleges and universities have protocols in place that make reporting difficult or unwelcome. The cases are handled on campus and may not be reported to law enforcement and are therefore not prosecuted. Victim-blaming is still a factor in many communities and influences survivors of violence to not report. Unfortunately, many myths still are present in society and inaccurate beliefs are still held, such as: wearing tight or revealing clothing causes rape, being out late at night, or wearing makeup. Alcohol is used frequently as a means to reduce judgement and impair the ability to provide consent.

These are myths. There is no correlation between certain clothing and rape. No rape victim is ever “asking for it.” If you are the victim of sexual violence, please understand that what happened was wrong and that it was not your fault.

What should you do if you get raped?

Get yourself to safe place, call 911. Sexual assault is an emergency. If at all possible, find a supportive person who can help you, like a close friend or a residence assistant.

Resist the urge to take a bath or a shower. Cleaning yourself is a natural impulse, but don’t. Your body is covered with physical evidence that can help catch the rapist. Preserve all evidence, such as your clothing.

Go to an emergency room and get medical attention immediately! Even if you do not plan to report the rape, it is crucial that you seek help at a local emergency room, campus health center or elsewhere. Prompt medical assistance reduces you chance of developing some STDs, and many women choose to take the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy. Rape victims also sustain other physical injuries, and you may be more hurt than you realize. Yes, an intimate medical exam is the last thing you want after such a horrible experience, but it’s something you need to do for the sake of your health.

Get psychological counseling as soon as possible. Rape is a traumatic experience, and most women need help coping. Be kind to yourself and get the help you need! Most communities have rape crisis centers and may provide counseling. Colleges also have counseling centers.

Report the assault to the campus and/or city police. Many women choose not to do this, and their decisions should be respected. But if you are raped, please consider reporting it. Doing so may prevent the rapist from hurting someone else, and if enough women report rapes, rape statistics may go down because the consequences will go up. And even if the rapist never strikes again, rape is a crime and needs to be reported.


I think the great thing about this cause area, to end violence against women and other genders, is the diversity of opinions about who women are, who victims are, who survivors of violence are. Our cause area is made up of billions of faces, representing all aspects of society. This means we gather our strength from our diversity, because it will take billions of voices to make this change. It only makes it harder to gather such diversity into a cohesive voice to make change, but we must do it. The idea of slutwalks comes out of the nonsense that clothing invites rape and pushes wearers to the status of “less than” in our society. These events, like all events that push boundaries, will bring awareness to those who may need to see the ludicrousness of linking clothing to rape acceptance. Not all people, even victims, will understand them. There are, of course, many campaigns that exist to address these issues in other formats. I hope we can support them all, as it takes many, many types of speech to effect changes in society. I think we may want to consider forgiving survivors who can’t understand all the messages our cause needs to put out there because their wounds are deep and we don’t know what will trigger them. Just as we don’t always know what someone else does that could trigger us. Solidarity takes acceptance and support, however different we think we need to pursue this common goal.

Check out your local community for an Abolish the Blame or SlutWalk event and consider supporting their message to stop blaming victims of crime.

September 22nd is an Abolish the Blame event in Richmond, Virginia. Check them out on Facebook events and their page: slutwalkrva. And follow them on twitter slutwalkrva

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