SOCW 6200: Human Behavior and the Social Environment I
Discussion: Myths of Sexual Violence
Myths and misinformation surround the topic of sexual violence. For years, these myths have hung around the discourse, further muddying an already difficult topic about which to communicate. Although all myths can be harmful, there are some that may be arguably more harmful. For this Discussion, you identify some of the myths surrounding the topic of sexual abuse and consider why they have remained so prevalent.
Respond to a colleague’s post by offering a reason as to why his or her identified myths are so prevalent and persistent. Please use the Learning Resources to support your answer.
Colleague’s Response: Christopher Fosdick
RE: Discussion 1 – Week 9
Post an explanation of which myths of sexual violence you think are the most harmful and why.
I believe that all myths of sexual violence and rape are harmful, but in different ways. In the case study presented by Plummer et al (2014), I saw two harmful myths at play. The first myth was that only strangers are potential rapists (Zastrow et al., 2019). As in the example of the Johnson family (Plummer et al., 2014), Talia, the victim knew her rapist and she was assaulted at a party by Eric when she was inebriated. Eric, an acquaintance at school, appeared to be opportunistic and was aiming to intoxicate Talia so that he can rape her. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 57 percent of sexual assaults and rapes were committed by someone the survivor knew (Catalano et al., 2009). This incident was not Talia’s fault, but safeguards and decisions could have been made beforehand to protect Talia. Some of these decisions could have included recognizing some of the potential opportunistic behavior of Eric. Another safeguard would have been to go to this party with a few people who she could asked to watch out for her. The friend that passed her on the stairs, for example, could have expressed suspicion at Eric’s intentions for bringing Talia to his bedroom alone while she was nearly passed out.
The second myth that I will only describe shortly is that “women ask for it (Zastrow et al., 2019).” Eric, may have this schema or attitude, which he uses to justify his actions. Although he may hide behind this myth, I don’t think Eric truly believed it, but uses the myth to alleviate any guilt he has for raping Talia. Also, this myth could make Talia question whether or not she was “asking for it” by getting drunk and going to his bedroom. Talia felt ashamed to talk about this incident because a part of her worried that it was partly her own fault (Plummer et al., 2014). This “women-ask-for-it” myth shifts the blame from perpetrator to victim. It is my opinion that, the rape was Eric’s fault and he should morally and legally take responsibility for it.
Catalano, S., Smith, E., Snyder, H., & Rand, M. (2009). Female Victims of Violence. U.S. Department of Publications and Materials, 7. https://doi.org/https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=usjusticematls
Plummer, S.-B., Sara Makrirs, & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social Work Case Studies: Foundation Year (First). Laureate.
Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
Discussion 2: Bystander Intervention
Separating fact from fiction is imperative when learning how to recognize and respond appropriately, and effectively, to victim/survivors, and bystanders/witnesses, of sexual violence. Although a large majority of sexual assaults do not happen in public settings, in some cases, they do. This is when it is important to understand the experience of the bystander. Bystander intervention can help to explain how, when, and where these kinds of assaults take place; at times, it may even prevent the assault from happening. For this week’s Discussion, watch the video case study of Talia. Locate research on bystander intervention by Victoria L. Banyard and/or Sarah McMahon.
Respond to a colleague’s post by explaining possible psychological effects one may experience as a result of being a bystander to an occurring or potential act of sexual violence. Please use the Learning Resources to support your answer.
Colleague’s Response: Diana Thorne
RE: Discussion 2 – Week 9
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Bystander intervention is action from willing individuals to assist a person who needs help to prevent violent assaults. Bystanders who engage in intervening need to always try to intervene safely. Bystanders should decide whether a direct, indirect, or distraction method of intervention is best for the situation (Step UP! Bystander Intervention Model | Columbia Health, n.d.) Bystanders should never put themselves directly in harm’s way, should intervene early as possible to prevent escalation, and remain calm to gather needed information and provide support (Step UP! Bystander Intervention Model | Columbia Health, n.d.) There is an intervention model called the Step UP! Bystander Intervention that teaches 5 basic steps: notice the event, interpret the situation as a problem, assume personal responsibility, know how to help, and Step up! (Step UP! Bystander Intervention Model | Columbia Health, n.d.)
In the video with Talia, Eric clearly was the sexual aggressor in the situation. Eric saw that Talia was drunk and stated to her “have some more”. Eric heard Talia clearly tell him that she was not feeling well and asked him to take her home. Eric took advantage of Talia’s vulnerability and suggested she lie down upstairs in his bed. Sherry plays an important role in this scenario as she noticed the event and interpreted the situation as a potential problem by asking Talia was she ok and asking “Do you want to go with him” (Laureate Education, 2013). Sherry failed to act. Sherry may have thought of the consequences of her actions to intervene in this situation and what would happen after she responded (Baynard et al., 2019). There is a key theory regarding bystanders behavior that proposes that individuals consider the pros and cons of taking action (Baynard et al., 2019). Gender plays a factor in the likelihood of bystander intervention as women may be more inclined to want to intervene but may also fear retribution. A bystander could have influenced a different outcome by noticing Talia was sitting on the couch looking unwell and drunk while Eric coaxing her upstairs instead of taking her home. The bystander could have interpreted that Eric could be taking advantage of Talia’s vulnerable state and that this could lead to Talia being put in a compromising or dangerous situation. The bystander could then choose to take personal responsibility and walk up to Talia and let her know that she could be given a safe ride home or that they could call a taxi for her to get home safely. If Talia refused to go home, the bystander could sit with Talia outside to get some fresh air until she is in a better state to make better decisions without being in a compromised state of mind.
Step UP! Bystander Intervention Model | Columbia Health. (n.d.). Step UP! Bystander Intervention Model | Columbia Health. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://health.columbia.edu/services/bystander-intervention-step-0
Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Johnson family (Episode 1) [Video file]. In Sessions. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Banyard, V., Moschella, E., Grych, J., & Jouriles, E. (2019). What happened next? New measures of consequences of bystander actions to prevent interpersonal violence. Psychology of Violence, 9(6), 664–674. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1037/vio0000229.supp (Supplemental)
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Responsiveness to Directions
9.45 (27%) – 10.5 (30%)
Discussion posting fully addresses all instruction prompts, including responding to the required number of peer posts.
Discussion Posting Content
9.45 (27%) – 10.5 (30%)
Discussion posting demonstrates an excellent understanding of all of the concepts and key points presented in the text(s) and Learning Resources. Posting provides significant detail including multiple relevant examples, evidence from the readings and other scholarly sources, and discerning ideas.
Peer Feedback and Interaction
7.88 (22.5%) – 8.75 (25%)
The feedback postings and responses to questions are excellent and fully contribute to the quality of interaction by offering constructive critique, suggestions, in-depth questions, additional resources, and stimulating thoughts and/or probes.
4.72 (13.5%) – 5.25 (15%)
Postings are well organized, use scholarly tone, contain original writing and proper paraphrasing, follow APA style, contain very few or no writing and/or spelling errors, and are fully consistent with graduate level writing style.