Hélène Vecchiali: "Women's voices are still too often ignored": Femme Actuelle Le MAG

The shrink: Hélène Vecchiali is the author of The silence of women (Albin Michel editions, € 18.90): an omerta gags women raped by a loved one. This book explores all facets of a crime fueled by a series of myths that make up the "rape culture" and provide the keys to breaking the silence.

What are the consequences of rape?

Hélène Vecchiali: During and after the attack, the victims were paralyzed. The staggering effect leads to lasting physical and mental disorders. Studies on the brain in traumatic amazement have shown that the sequelae were visible (MRI). As the starfish sacrifices one of his arms to escape his predator, the rape victim, forced by the physical force of his attacker, gives up part of him.

In addition, the victims suffer another violence…

H V. They are indeed subjected to institutional violence. Asking the complainant to report on her dress, behavior, context or relationship to the abuser, or why she did not fight, for example, shows how the reality of rape is denied. This makes it the only crime where the victim is presumed guilty and must justify himself. A further step in the humiliation which incites some women to wallow in silence. To preserve their dignity and remain standing.

In figures, what is this reality?

H V. According to surveys, 86% of rapes are perpetrated by relatives. Then come the rapes committed by strangers and finally, gang rapes. All, without exception, are real rapes, even if the extreme violence of the last two categories feeds the common representation of this crime. Because a sexual assault without visible bodily harm is unjustly considered suspicious, the victim being supposed to react too violently. It is to forget the terror, the effect of trauma and stunned dissociation, physical domination, as well as the internalization of sexist stereotypes that make up the rape culture and act when the victim knows his rapist.

How does this "rape culture" translate?

H V. : This notion was forged in the United States to qualify non-consensual but socially accepted sexual relations. This culture would justify male sexual forcing, in other words rape, without naming it. It requires that the man's sexuality be satisfied to withstand the pressures and that the woman must of sex. This has been reflected, since the dawn of time, in conjugal duty, the rest of the warrior, the right to donut, the concept of woman-object, rape in time of war, prostitution, female genital cutting, trafficking in women, etc. Consequence: some women ignore being raped, since it is in the order of things.

What are the beliefs to deconstruct?

H V. : The problem of consent is still an issue. However, there is no "gray area", this space where men pretend not to know what women want, who would say "no" while thinking "yes", for example. If the man doubts, he asks himself the following question: is the partner active or not? If it is retracted, is inert, absent, it is because it is not consenting. It's very clear. Another tenacious belief: the so-called irrepressible desire of men. Many women continue to believe that an erect man cannot control or stop himself. It's a legend.

What happens when a man turns a woman's slightest demand for attention into sexual demand?

H V. : What is happening is what Ferenczi, the psychoanalyst, has called the confusion of languages ​​to denounce incest and pedophilia. Namely, the perverted adult responds to a child's request for tenderness through an imposed sexual relationship. Similar confusion in the male / female relationship: a woman asks for tenderness from a husband, encouragement from a boss, kindness from a friend, and the answer is sexual. Some men will abuse the situation by accusing the woman: "Your request was unclear ". For these prey that capitulated to the enemy, guilt, humiliation and shame are increased tenfold. So they are silent. As many phenomena that women, men and institutions must know: some to dare to speak, others to know how to hear them and fight with them.

Read also :

⋙ Sexual harassment: how to defend yourself?

⋙ Street harassment: the “5D” rule, a method to know to help a victim and intervene safely

⋙ After #MeToo, Sweden expands definition of rape

⋙ Domestic violence: female victims are 44% more likely to die, regardless of the cause

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