Published August 10, 2011
Do you know how overwhelming the statistics* are about how many rapes get reported and how many rapists actually end up in jail? If not, let me remind you:
• Sixty percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police
Any idea why? Fear. Shame. Shock.
• Almost two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows
• And 7 percent of rapes are committed by a relative.
Staggering, isn't it?
The New York Times reported this week that Rosie, a “judicially-approved” golden retriever therapy dog, is the reason a convicted rapist – in this case the victim’s father – may appeal the verdict.
After defying all the statistics, this young victim may fail to put her attacker away...because of a dog?
On June 20, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Victor Tohom, 36, was convicted of predatory sexual assault against a child and child endangerment.
While his daughter took the stand and testified about the four years of sexual assault, beginning when she was 10, she was petting 11-year-old Rosie.
The defense lawyers claimed in the appeal that the jury was swayed by the dog’s cuteness.
I say the jury was swayed by the 15-year-old girl, a girl who had been raped and impregnated by her own father.
A 15-year-old girl who somehow had the guts to get up on the witness stand and testify.
Why could she beat the odds? Maybe because of a little help from Rosie.
Studies have shown that simply petting an animal can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Pets decrease anxiety and offer unconditional love.
If your dad is raping you, chances are you are in need of a little unconditional love.
“A lot of time when children have been exposed to trauma or sexual abuse, they have a hard time expressing themselves,” said Lori Stella, the clinical social worker who worked with the victim. “And then they are put in a courtroom full of strangers, being asked the most intrusive questions and having to sit across from somebody who perpetrated the abuse." She added: "I could physically see her [the victim's] anxiety diminishing.”
Ah, yes. Can you imagine being in her shoes? And now a convicted rapist might go free because of a Golden Retriever’s cuteness?
Rape is a serious problem in this country -- not to mention around the word -- and instead of setting standards to how victims should be treated, ridiculous ploys like this make it harder and harder for justice to be served.
People need to see this for what it is: another reason why, in the U.S., fifteen out of every sixteen rapists don’t spend a single day in jail.
*Source: The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Jennifer Quasha is a writer and most recently the co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Canine Companions" and "Chicken Soup of the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Feline Family Members." Check out her website at www.jenniferquasha.com.