You are walking home, late at night. Alone.
Perhaps you went to a party at a friends house and decided to save a few bucks on the transport home.
It’s just 2 blocks away from your house, so what could possibly happen, right?
He is hiding in the darkness, waiting for someone like you to walk by.
He jumps out when you least expect it, pulls you into a dark alley and…
That, is our image of the “Classic Rape”.
Of course, most of us know, that this rape is in fact not all that common, but rather the unusual one. The most common rape is the one that takes place in the house, by the very people who claim they care about us the most, be it our close friends, brothers, uncles or husbands.
But, there is another form of rape, one that is even more difficult to detect and near impossible to prosecute against; The “Internet Rape”
I first heard about this in a documentary from Sweden, but since then I read about a number of cases all around the world.
Imagine that you have a teenage daughter, she is browsing online as she would any normal evening, but this particular evening a young, sweet guy sends her a message over Facebook. He says that she looks cute and asks if they can chat. He looks very cool, a little bit older than her perhaps.
They start chatting, he is funny and caring. He asks her for a picture. She sends it to him, just a random picture she has on her phone. They chat some more the next couple of days. She feels like a grownup, he makes her feel special and beautiful, like a woman, when in fact she is still a child.
Then, he asks for a picture of her by the beach or at the poolside, maybe wearing a bikini. She sends it to him. It continues like that, until she finally sends him a picture of herself naked. That’s when everything changes. Suddenly this cute, young and caring guy turns into a threatening, awful older man. He says that if she doesn’t continue to send him pictures and videos of her doing exactly what he asks her to do, then he will spread the naked picture of her to all her friends, family, her school mates and her teachers. Everyone will see her. She gets frightened, and thinks that if she just gives him what he wants once or twice he will go away, but that’s not what happens. It gets worse, and worse, and the more material she gives him, the more scared she will become of him sending it out.
The Internet Rape happens from the comfort of her own home, without any physical interaction. For those out there who would argue that this isn’t rape, doesn’t fully understand what rape really is. It is not only about sex, it has more to do with control and power. He has control over her, she has to do what he tells her to do, and that’s what it’s about.
One young girl in Sweden took her own life, as a result of this. It’s serious and something that I think every mum and dad with teenage girls out there should be aware of. Be attentive to changes in your daughter’s behavior, ask her questions about what she is doing online and try to read between the lines.
I don’t have teenagers yet, and I don’t have daughters, but I felt this is still an important piece of information to spread. Times are constantly changing and with technology new opportunities of interaction are opening up, but they are opening up for everyone, including the ones with bad intentions. We must therefore enlighten each other and more importantly, speak about this with our children. This is not about invading the privacy of our children, but rather about keeping them safe from these invisible threats, lurking in the dark.