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April 18, 2006 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Has there ever been a study to determine the differences between damage to the vagina found in rape, and damage resulting from consensual sex.... (more inside)

A lot of the evidence in the Duke case seems to be coming down to the damage to her vagina and rectum. I have been rocking some google fu and have been unable to find any sort of study that shows any quantitative difference between consensual sex and rape in terms of the damage to the afore mentioned organs.

Beyond that supposedly there was some KY involved, with adequate lubrication how would one be able to tell the difference? This is of course assuming that the damage is limited to the vagina or anus.

I would rather not turn this into a flame war about the case. Please keep your emotions and such in check and just link me to some relevant studies if you know where any of them are.

Final addendum, clearly if the rape was very very violent there would be no such discrepancy, but not all consensual sex is tender and loving. So what specific criteria make it rape damage.
posted by sourbrew to Law & Government (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Final addendum, clearly if the rape was very very violent there would be no such discrepancy, but not all consensual sex is tender and loving. So what specific criteria make it rape damage.

You've got it reversed. It's not that you can look at any particular damage and say "that was definitely caused by a rape", it's that if there is no damage at all it is exceedingly difficult to prove that a rape occured.

The same is true in any assualt case. The fact that the guy has a black eye and a broken arm doesn't mean that he was assaulted, it's just that if he doesn't have any damage at all then there won't be much of an assault case to make.
posted by tkolar at 6:19 PM on April 18, 2006


I merely wanted to preempt people from pointing out the obvious like a punctured bladder or torn perineum which would clearly indicate excessive force, it is the more gray area injuries that i was interested in. I suppose one very would have been adequate.
posted by sourbrew at 6:23 PM on April 18, 2006


For instance if the woman or man was unwilling it would seem that they would probably have their various muscles contracted in certain manners that would produce characteristic tearing, or lesions, but I have not been able to find any evidence that such a thing has ever been investigated.
posted by sourbrew at 6:33 PM on April 18, 2006




I'm confused by this question. the crime of rape is a transgression of a person's will, not physical damage. It is like the difference between stealing from someone and accepting a gift. so although it's likely that rape is commonly more violent and physically traumatic, that it is secondary to its being rape...
posted by mdn at 6:58 PM on April 18, 2006


mdn: I think sourbrew has in mind evidentiary issues in the upcoming trial.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:03 PM on April 18, 2006


Consensual sex does not cause "damage" to the female genital area any more than it does to the man. Unless you are into some kind of weird S&M I guess.
posted by fshgrl at 7:14 PM on April 18, 2006


Thanks SuperSquirrel, I'll have to look at some of those articles a bit more. None of them seem to offer a comparative study between consensual sex and rape, but it should at least give me a jumping point for attempting to figure out what sort of damage is consistent in trials where a guilty verdict was found, sadly from the second link.

"After adjustment for income level and the patient's knowledge of the assailant (either as an acquaintance or as his or her partner), the odds ratio (OR) for charge-laying in a sexual assault case with documented moderate to severe injury was 3.33 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-10.42). Socioeconomic status above the group median (defined as annual income greater than $21,893) (OR 3.26, 95% CI 1.09-9.71) and knowledge of the assailant (OR 4.58, 95% CI 1.52-13.79) were also associated with charge-laying."

So perhaps evidence of physical damage is not as damning as the DA or the media has made it out to be.
posted by sourbrew at 7:30 PM on April 18, 2006


fshgrl writes...
Consensual sex does not cause "damage" to the female genital area any more than it does to the man. Unless you are into some kind of weird S&M I guess.

This is the problem with living in the SF Bay Area. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if people managed to damage themselves during consensual sexual activities. And S&M is pretty mainstream stuff.

Aren't cultural differences fascinating?
posted by tkolar at 7:32 PM on April 18, 2006


This is a pretty lightweight article, but it talks in general about what is required to make a rape case work.
posted by tkolar at 7:34 PM on April 18, 2006


That was the article that got me started thinking about all of this. In particular this section:

"Both are serious injuries, easily observed and photographed, and those pictures can later be shown on huge screens to the jury. Highlighted by brightly colored dyes, the injuries become melodramatic evidence. Confronted with abrasions or lacerations, the lawyer defending the accused faces a difficult and frequently impossible situation."

emphasis mine, while the lacerations seem pretty obvious, I find the term abrasion to be pretty vague, is that simply bruising? Would this not occur if the sex was consensual rough sex. Once you have highlighted the abrasion you have told the jury something that I have not been able to verify as being different from rough sex.
posted by sourbrew at 7:39 PM on April 18, 2006


sourbrew wrote...
I find the term abrasion to be pretty vague, is that simply bruising?

No, abrasion is surface damage caused to the skin by rubbing or scraping.

A friend of mine once abraded her knees pretty badly while giving a vigorous blowjob (and yes, more than one of us thought of giving her kneepads for her next birthday), but I suspect that the abrasions in question would be on the inside of an insufficiently lubricated vagina.

Using KY would making them fairly thoughtful, as rapists go.
posted by tkolar at 7:47 PM on April 18, 2006


um, "make"
posted by tkolar at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2006


It wouldn't surprise me in the least if people managed to damage themselves during consensual sexual activities.

You haven't ever been sore after sex?
posted by librarina at 7:52 PM on April 18, 2006


Perhaps this is something I've gathered from watching too many inaccurate Law and Orders and CSIs, but I was under the impression that it was possible to distinguish damage from consensual (and even rough) sex and rape by the location of the damage on the hymen, usually referred to with "o'clock" statements. Googling did not provide anything conclusive, but perhaps this will trigger something for someone else with more knowledge.
posted by artifarce at 8:03 PM on April 18, 2006


Here is a powerpoint of findings of a controlled trial, currently in progress, that attempted to ascertain exactly the answer to your question.

The RO1 supporting it is listed at the bottom, so I plugged it into CRISP. However, it seems to have stalled.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:06 PM on April 18, 2006


Aren't cultural differences fascinating?

I live in the Bay Area too and have a passing acquaintance with S&M and I maintain that damage to the female genital area is pretty damn uncommon during consensual sex.
posted by fshgrl at 8:15 PM on April 18, 2006


artifarce, yeah, it seems like it might be possible to guess at the woman's level of arousal, based on the inferred configuration of the various organs; and then to make the case that lack of arousal <--> lack of consent. I don't think it would be a very good argument, but an argument it could be.

I'm only vaguely familiar with this case, but isn't the defendant claiming not to have been involved at all, rather than claiming that they had sex but it wasn't rape?
posted by hattifattener at 8:30 PM on April 18, 2006


I maintain that damage to the female genital area is pretty damn uncommon during consensual sex.

Oh, I definitely agree. I just think that it's common enough that rough consensual sex wouldn't be laughed out of the courtroom as a potential defense.
posted by tkolar at 8:31 PM on April 18, 2006


Hattfattener

it seems like it might be possible to guess at the woman's level of arousal, based on the inferred configuration of the various organs; and then to make the case that lack of arousal < --> lack of consent. I don't think it would be a very good argument, but an argument it could be.

God I would hope that in a rape case the woman's phyisical arrousal wouldn't come into play. Thanks for acknowledging it as a bad argument. I don't think women's physical arousal is any statement about consent AT ALL.
posted by aclevername at 9:53 PM on April 18, 2006


artifarce writes "Perhaps this is something I've gathered from watching too many inaccurate Law and Orders and CSIs, but I was under the impression that it was possible to distinguish damage from consensual (and even rough) sex and rape by the location of the damage on the hymen, usually referred to with 'o'clock' statements. Googling did not provide anything conclusive, but perhaps this will trigger something for someone else with more knowledge."

The thing that's always bothered me about that is that it assumes people only ever have sex in one position.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:12 PM on April 18, 2006


Also, this one through PubMed:

Genitoanal injury in adult female victims of sexual assault

This one seems to get close to your specific question. The conclusion was that visible external genitoanal injuries weren't always present and in fact, were in the minority.

IANAD but I'm guessing there's no strict quantifiable (e.g. inner vaginal laceration >4mm) criteria at which one can definitively conclude that sexual assault/rape occurred. Rather a medical professional who has experience in judging vaginal and anal trauma associated with rape can examine the victim and make a statement based on the pattern of trauma/injuries, ie. "Based on my personal examination and documented photos of the patient, the observed vaginal a/o anal trauma is consistent with patterns and criteria associated with rape."
posted by junesix at 11:00 PM on April 18, 2006


When I was raped, I was bruised all over my labia and inner thighs and slightly where he held me down. I've been sore after sex, but never like after I was raped. YMMV.
posted by raedyn at 7:32 AM on April 19, 2006


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