**All of the trigger warnings**
*And sweary words may ensue*
There are stories in the media that are triggering the living hell out of me at the moment. The most upsetting in a long list of sexual violence examples currently being discussed is Jill Meagher’s violent rape and murder.
The picture of his smiling face makes my guts churn. We have watched CCTV footage of Ms Meagher being chased down the street by this man and read graphic accounts of her torturous end. It is quite literally a horror story, the one you are always warned about as a young woman. What is so incredibly disturbing about Ms Meagher’s terrifying ordeal is how the justice system in Australia ignored Police attempts to have *him* locked up. More than 20 convictions for rape, spanning 20 years, which were deemed by one sentencing judge to be violent and deliberately (more) humiliating for the purpose of *him* getting his rocks off.
And so you wonder, how did he only serve portions of his sentences, handed down by an already grossly inadequate system which over twenty years FAILED TO DEEM COMMUNITY SAFETY MORE IMPORTANT than…anything? This man’s ‘right to a second chance’? 22nd chance, perhaps?
I have avoided media reports as much as I can. There have been some useful pieces written about the Utter Failure of the concept of ‘justice’ and sentencing of violent sexual offenders in Australia. Amy Gray wrote here on how women have been failed. She said,
“Women know that Australia’s legal system will not protect them, with 60% of sexual assault investigations marked as unresolved after 30 days or that only one in six rape cases even make it to court. This is largely why sexual assault is underreported. Our legal system does not provide appropriate and just protection for victims of sexual assault and can be just as traumatic as the actual attack”
I advise you DON’T read the comments, however, as they immediately turn into victim blaming, ‘the feminists did it’ and something something prostitutes. Well, if that doesn’t show how fucked some people are, nothing will. I ache for the loss of that beautiful lady and the poison some people carry which enables them to use such a forum to talk utter heartbreaking shit.
Derryn Hinch wrote here about the Parole Board and just how many times they grant parole, including for a man with 20+ convictions for sexual violence spanning 20 years. It doesn’t get any more believable the more I type the words. There is incredible trust placed in the individuals who make up this board and Hinch asks, what is their agenda? The last judge to release Ms Meagher’s murderer ‘doesn’t recall the case’.
Oh, the howling rage. It burns.
What is this nonsense about contrition and ‘rehabilitation’ of life long, sadistic rapists? Does that sound right to you?
Some years ago I worked at length on a piece of research about how to deal with alleged sexual offenders in the context of child safety. I’ve probably mentioned it. I read through research and offender interviews that you just would never imagine existed. Horror stories. I trawled through victim statements, Family Court transcripts and newspaper reports of The Worst Kind. Do you know what I found?
There is actually quite a body of research on this topic. From different ‘stakeholders’, victims, legal representatives, medical professionals and even studies with offenders themselves. What was the thing that linked them altogether, do you think?
Almost every piece of information I found in my research drew the same conclusion. (With the exception of Court transcripts, which show a heinous disregard for the evidence we clearly have)
Rapists rape because they can.
Rapists lie as often as they breathe and spin a web so convincingly that so many of us are fooled. They are very good at it. They have to be.
This shows knowledge and intent. Grooming, preparing or setting up a victim are elaborate schemes. So is covering your ass and pleading for mercy to your parole officer (whom Hinch alleges actually tipped off Meagher’s murderer when Police were closing in – I can’t even…). Sexual violence and certainly stalking and murder are not accidents. Not Random occurrences by Otherwise Good Guys. They are deliberate, malicious and conniving betrayals. Why do we not treat them as such?
Evidence from perpetrators and attempted ‘therapy’ was conclusive: there is no such thing as curing a rapist. They cannot be rehabilitated (for what that term is even worth!). Many perpetrators that were studied thought this was a humorous proposition. They laughed at the idea of being ‘cured’! Mostly because they still felt entitled to do what they had done, and would probably continue to do. They played the system after playing the victims and laughed their way back onto the streets while their victims hid inside, became addicted to drugs or ended their lives.
It made for chilling reading. That knowledge didn’t help me to avoid becoming one of The Victims. It does however, help me to deal with things after the fact. Long after the fact. Sort of.
A statistic that has forever stayed with me from this work is that of rape committed versus rape KNOWN ABOUT or CHARGED WITH. The combination of literature suggested that for every incident reported, an offender has committed FIVE MORE sexual assaults/rapes that will remain undisclosed.
Jill Meagher’s rapist and murderer was convicted 20 times. And that wasn’t enough to keep him confined.
What is enough? Where does it end?
What is a life worth?
Do others sit, frozen, with images of her struggling to get free in her last moments? Because I do.
The only chance of any justice (not even possible) in this case is if sentencing guidelines are reviewed and amended accordingly.
We have the proof.
We – unfortunately – have the numbers of victims.
Why do we have to try to justify the hurt caused by rape? The reality of offenders? The awful evidence is there.
We must treat this issue with the desperate gravity it deserves.