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All rape victims require support

I am writing in response to

the anonymous male rape victim ["Male rape victims also need support," Sept. 24]. I completely agree; survivors of male rape do need support, and there is altogether too little support available. I encourage him, and any other survivors to actively seek this support. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Hotline (492-7273) should be able to provide some answers and refer to men's support groups.

The victim and I have something very much in common: I too was raped, in my own house, in my own bed, a place I considered safe. I was raped by my girlfriend who ignored or didn't feel my turning away, twisting away, saying things like "I just want to talk." I don't think she really heard me. I do know how that feels. I do believe women can rape.

Here, however, is one difference between the anonymous victim and myself. I am a woman. I too face the notion that women can't rape, but even more significant than that, I must deal with the belief that self-professed feminist lesbians can't rape. They can.

There was no initial support for my experience, either. I couldn't even believe it had happened until several months later. I couldn't tell friends or peers, for fear they wouldn't believe me. I couldn't tell anyone at MIT without the fear that her standing in the community as an activist and a feminist would be demolished and that her work, and mine, in feminism would be discounted.

Even now, there is no way I can turn to my family for support. My father hasn't really dealt with my bisexuality yet. At the time of the rape, I wasn't even out to my family about my sexual orientation. I could not tell them I was raped by my girlfriend. "What girlfriend?" they would have asked. I too was alone.

I want to emphasize four things:

1/3 Men do experience rape, which is just as real and just as horrible as the rape which women experience. One in seven men are raped by the age of 18. Most of these rapes are perpetrated by men.

1/3 Women can and do rape, although 97 percent or more of rapists are men. Rape by a woman can be just as devastating as rape by a man.

1/3 Not all women have immediate access to support. Not all women are believed. Rape, especially date rape, and especially rape by a woman, is still largely an invisible crime.

1/3 Support is available, either through BARCC or other means. Here on campus, immediate support is available through peers

at either Nightline or Contact Line as well as through the administration.

And to the anonymous victim himself: You are not alone. Keep talking and keep believing.

Mary P. Baxter '93->