Meeting the Burden of Proof. How Combatting Rape in the US Lies in Education and Cultural Change Instead of in our Court System.

I spend a lot of time online reading news stories, articles, blogs, and people’s social media comments. Yes, I am a comment reader because I find it fascinating how people respond and view current events. Today I was talking to someone on Facebook about the burden of proof as it relates to a law incriminating people present when a crime is committed. We were talking about the burden of proof and how it lies with the accuser or prosecutor of a case. We are innocent until proven guilty in the United States. It’s not the defendant’s duty to prove themselves innocent. During this short exchange, I realized why I have been so completely at odds with both the Me Too movement and the far right on the topic of rape in the US. I have to say that I’ve been thoroughly disgusted with both extremes for a while now, but wasn’t sure exactly why my buttons were being pushed quite so hard by them both.

It’s because they’re both wrong. The burden of proof lies with the accuser. I cannot repeat that enough times. That’s the basis of our entire legal system in the United States and I believe it to be the best system. We often cannot prove our innocence. It’s impossible. Regardless of the crime, the accuser has to prove their case. The far right is online talking about how the number of rapes in the US are exaggerated, there are men in jail wrongly accused, and any accuser that didn’t prove their case should face the sentence the accused would have faced having been convicted for ruining someone’s reputation. The Me Too movement is online talking about how all accusers should be believed. Period.

Let’s start with the Me Too movement. It’s pretty basic and easy to understand. We have a legal system for a reason. Does it fail? Yes, sometimes it does. Can something like date rape be proven? Rarely. If you know you’re not going to win the physical fight, realistically you’re better off not increasing the physical damage with a physical struggle. Men often don’t understand that very basic fact. Do women report date rapes? Not often because there’s just no point in doing so. Women understand date rape is a he said she said no win why put yourself through that situation. Are the rape statistics in the US accurate? Absolutely not. However, we can’t accuse people of a crime without being able to prove a crime happened. People lie everyday for a variety of reasons. We cannot convict people based on he said she said. Stop vilifying all men based on a certain percentage of the male population. There are women rapists out there too. The human body physiologically responds to certain stimulus. I have a male friend who was raped as a 9 year old boy by his female babysitter. Yes, it does happen and boys or men really don’t report rape because of the stigma attached. Let’s not forget about them.

Oh the far right… are more difficult as always. There are people sitting in jail right now for all kinds of crimes that they didn’t commit. There is a legal redress in place for when a conviction is overturned. It’s in civil court and you absolutely can sue for damages. No accuser for any crime presented in court automatically gets the sentence the accused would have gotten had they been convicted. Get a grip. We wouldn’t even need jail if that were the case. No one would prosecute anything. And there are men who ruin women’s reputations by lying and saying they had sex with someone when they in fact did not. It’s fine for men but not for women? No, it isn’t. And yes, you did do damage when you spread that lie. Common sense should tell you that rape is under reported if anything because it’s so hard to prove. If the rapist wore a condom, even if you could prove rape, you may not be able to prove who the rapist was. It’s a hard to prove crime in many cases. It’s often a better choice for the victim to heal and move on with HIS or HER life.

Will we ever eliminate rape in the US? No, we won’t. But we can decrease the rate and lasting effects on victims through education and awareness. The Me Too movement needs to check itself when it vilifies all men and categorically believes all accusers. The far right needs educated. Men have more influence on other men’s and boy’s behaviors than any law ever written. We need to stop vilifying men because it’s wrong and we need them to stand up and say no to their friends and teach their son’s better. The same is true of women. I understand why there are so many mad women and men in this country right now. Women are tired of being told it’s their fault or not being believed. Men are tired of all being placed into one category as the criminal. Men and boys are online reading how we should believe any woman who accuses them of rape. That’s really not acceptable. If he or she isn’t allowed to say no or is incapacitated, that’s rape. Treat other people how you want to be treated. It’s really that simple.


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