When women rape

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Female-perpetrated sexual assault is taboo. Male and female survivors don’t want to talk about it, let alone report it. But tonight I interview a man and a woman who have been raped by women.

Sexual assault is a crime that is overwhelmingly committed by men to women. Cases of female-perpetrated sexual assault, to either men or women, are very rare. But just because these cases are rare, does that mean we can’t or won’t talk about them? Does it mean that the male and female survivors of female-perpetrated rape shouldn't tell their own stories?

I interviewed a man and a woman who have been sexually assaulted by women.

 

Facts about female-perpetrated sexual assault

  • Although female sex offending is a serious issue it makes up a very small percentage of all sex offences against children and adults: just under 5% of all offences.

  • Half of all female sex offenders in the criminal justice system co-offended with a male perpetrator.

  • Male coercion is an important avenue for women’s offending.

  • Victim/survivors of female-perpetrated sexual abuse do not usually disclose abuse.

  • Female sexual offending can be difficult to conceptualise and theorise when most theories of sexual offending are based on male perpetrators.

    Source: Australian Centre for Sexual Assault, March 2014.

Stephanie’s story

Stephanie* was sexually assaulted just six weeks ago on holiday in New York, by a woman who rented her a room in the woman’s private apartment using Airbnb.

She was accompanied on the trip by a male friend.

She says her hostess made unwanted advances, which she says she clearly dismissed. She awoke later that night, with the woman between her legs performing oral sex on her.

Stephanie tells how she does not expect every man to rape her walking down the street, but that she never, ever expected it from a woman.

Tim’s story

Tim says he was sexually abused by his older female employer when he was sixteen. A sexually confused teen, he confided in his boss who then gave him porn and encouraged him to masturbate in the work bathrooms.

His abuse culminated in a penetrative sexual assault in a public park, in which he says his body reacted automatically to stimulus, but he was emotionally unwilling and unable to fully understand the events.

Rape is a crime about power, not gender

Much of Stephanie and Tim’s words echo those of male-perpetrated crimes; helplessness, feeling dirty, shame and an unwillingness to report the crimes for fear of retraumatisation.

Female-perpetrated sexual assault is truly a taboo. Women remain silent about it and men certainly don't want to talk about it.

Karen Willis from the NSW Rape Crisis Centre says sexual assault isn’t about gender; it’s about the victim and it’s about power - and it’s a crime.

Thanks to the bravery of Tim and Stephanie in sharing their stories tonight on The Feed on SBS2, we can explore these rare cases without prejudice or judgment.

And perhaps dispel some of the myths and misconceptions around a truly dangerous idea.

Andy Park is a reporter and presenter for The Feed

* Stephanie’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

“Women are sexual predators” will be discussed at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone and is never the fault of the victim, regardless of their gender. 24/7 nationwide counseling is available though Sexual Assault Counseling Australia or on 1800 211 028.

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