Since 1971, we have successfully represented dozens of persons who were the victim of a rape or sexual assault while on a cruise ship. Based on this experience, we have come to see certain patterns or defenses that almost always arise during the course of litigation. We thought it important to explain why these defenses, or myths as well them, are simply not true.
Rape myths are perpetuated largely by a culture that is quick to blame the victim and silence narratives that don’t match popular perceptions of what constitutes violent crime. As a result, victims often remain silent when they should speak. They feel shame when society should offer them resources to feel empowered.
Unfortunately, not coming forward often results in perpetrators going free, and sometimes, going on to hurt others. This is especially true of cruise ship rape incidents. Speaking up prevents further violence, empowers victims, and lets them get the justice they deserve.
Here are some common cruise ship rape misconceptions that can help victims and reduce the risk of sexual assault crimes in general.
MYTH #1: Women can prevent rape by abstaining from alcohol. In many instances, when rape takes place, the woman is blamed for drinking. According to the University of Minnesota Duluth, the majority of rapes are planned. Perpetrators may conscientiously seek out victims in crowded areas, like bars or cruise ships, and they seek out victims who may have been drinking because these victims may be easier to overpower. This is not a victims’ fault. In this case, the rape is a pre-meditated violent crime. Individuals prone to commit rapes may commit these crimes when they have been drinking because alcohol lowers inhibitions. Women who have been raped should not be blamed for drinking. Instead, society needs to look at the ways that rapists use alcohol to empower themselves.
MYTH #2: Women can prevent rape by dressing conservatively. Again, most rapes are planned. Rapists experience gratification when they overpower their victims. What a victim wears has nothing to do with it.
MYTH #3: Women can prevent rape on a cruise ship by taking precautions. Because rape is a premeditated crime, in most instances, it can be difficult for victims to escape or prevent rape from happening. In many cases, rapists carefully plan out what they are going to do and stack the odds in their favor. Rapists use social situations and certain locations to get away with their crimes. Cruise ships, bars, and college campuses are all locations where predators seek out victims.
MYTH #4: Men are never raped. Unfortunately, many men fail to report rapes committed against them. Every year 20,000 men are raped, and many of these assaults take place aboard cruise ships.
MYTH #5: If a victim doesn’t physically resist an attacker, it isn’t rape. Rape is a violent crime and in some cases rapists may use a weapon or physical strength to overpower a victim. Victims may be so frightened that they may not resist. In some cases, victims fear for their lives, or fear that resisting will result in physical harm.
MYTH #6: If a victim is asleep or under the influence of alcohol, rape didn’t take place. Any sexual act that isn’t consensual is rape, regardless of whether alcohol is involved.
If you or a loved one was a victim of rape on a ship, it is important to speak up. There are many resources available to rape victims. A cruise ship rape lawyer may also be able to help victims get the help and justice they deserve.