Summer Guide for Victims of Sexual Assault

Friday, 1 July 2011 18:18 GMT

* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

As this is being written, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is having his electronic chains removed and freed from house arrest. The smashing rape allegation against the powerful former head of the International Monetary Fund has gone the way of so many charges against powerful sexual assailants.

The reason is simple: The Sofitel housekeeper who made the allegation has a partner in jail who appears to be an extremely successful marijuana salesman. She also failed to mention on her immigration application of having been raped and undergone female genital cutting in her homeland of Guinea but did mention both to prosecutors taking lessons from this and other recent cases, I have prepared a set of guidelines for those considering prosecuting their sexual assailants. This list is not meant to be encyclopedic; feel free to add your own items.

Now, you may never be sexually assaulted or even know anyone who is, but just in case, here are some guidelines if you are considering pressing charges.

1) Make a blunt assessment of your sexual history. It’s best if you are a virgin. Forget about it if you have ever traded money for sex.

2) Are you less than gorgeous? Underage? Over 40? Let’s be frank. Without strong forensics, the case will not go forward.

3) Have you Googled yourself? Nothing sexy can be out there if you expect to be believed. (You also need to do this if you are preparing to run for public office.)

4) Take a hard look at your sex partners. If you have a spouse, will he stick around through the entire thing—regardless of how bad it gets? Go ahead. Got a lover on the police force? Go ahead. Got a violent loser for a man friend? Skip it. Is your sweetheart of the same sex? Stop right now. Focus on marrying someone in a Northeast state—nice this time of year—and put this other event behind you.

5) Any family jealousies in the mix? You may want to get sworn agreements from all family members not to give press interviews or write books about the event before you go public with your allegation.

6) Job absolutely secure? If you are a member of a strong union or a tenured university professor, your employment will most likely continue whatever the outcome your allegation. If not, you may have to reconsider unless you are independently wealthy.

7) Bank account a little low? Reconsider! You will need your own team of attorneys—especially if you wish to sue your assailant—medical doctors to handle the stress, mental health counselors and most likely prescription medications. And by the way, if you do decide to sue, remember you will then be accused of making up the whole story only so you could win big in the civil case.

8) Have your own security team? If not, you might want to consider moving to the top floor of a residential building with its own elaborate electronic and human systems for protecting residents’ privacy.

9) Ever been sexually assaulted before? Just keep in mind you will be considered a recidivist—even though you may have done absolutely nothing wrong. And remember, the previous rape must be well-documented.

10) Take stock of what you ingested before the assault—especially if someone slipped something in your drink at a party. Unless you can truthfully testify that you were 100 percent alert, better prepare to drop the entire thing.