PDA

View Full Version : sexual abuse in the 1950's and 1960's.



KikiteNeko
06-23-2008, 11:23 PM
A small subplot of my story deals with a character who was studying to be a nurse in the 1950's and 1960's. She realizes she truly wants to be a nurse after helping one of her friends who turns to her after a sexual assault.

I know that in modern day, sexual abuse victims can be given a rape kit and their information will be taken to help ID the violator (thanks to Law and Order SVU). But what I need to know is what it was like in the 1950's and 60's. Was it more of a hush-hush topic? How did hospitals treat young and teenage girls who were victims, and were those victims unlikely to ever go to a hospital at all? I want to make this as believable as possible. Any and all info would be helpful. Thanks so much.

Captshady
06-23-2008, 11:36 PM
I wasn't "around" until the late 60's, but I'm curious about this too. It seems, at least from the 'historical documents' (a.k.a. television) that nursing encompassed blatant sexual harassment. There's loads of clips where patients grab some nurse ass, she jumps, squeals, and runs off, and nary a thing is done about it.

mscelina
06-23-2008, 11:43 PM
Being raped in that era was a personal shame for the victim. If they went to court, their reputation was shattered by the defense attorney. The rape was always 'their fault.' They either dressed provocatively, thus luring the man and compelling him to rape, or they had a bad reputation, meaning the man was entitled to rape her because she was already soiled goods. Even in regular society, a rape victim became THAT girl, you know--the one who must have done something wrong. Not so much in the case of interracial rape--if an African-American raped a caucasian woman, he was nothing more than an animal that must be put down. However, the women still became an object of shame to herself and her family (*What was she doing around colored men anyway?*)

Not a very nice way of looking at things.

As a matter of fact, some of this ideology persisted into the eighties and, to a lesser degree, the nineties. You have to take into consideration, however, the stress involved within the victim testifying in court about an event that takes years and years of excessive therapy to pull herself out of the resultant depression.

And, as always, realize that this was not the case in EVERY circumstance of rape.

Penguin Queen
06-24-2008, 01:10 AM
I suppose at least some of this would be in 1970s feminist books; one I can think of off the top of my head would be Susan Brownmiller, "Against our will".
Possibly early editions of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"?

Horseshoes
06-24-2008, 05:20 AM
Careful of trusting TV shows to learn how things are. My glimpses of those is they are often very wrong.
Anyhoo, you mention abuse and assault. SAM (sexual Abuse of a minor) was little legislated a few decades ago, in most of the US. If you're vic is raped by a stranger, 50s laws apply. She may not have reported it, certainly not immediately, but it entirely depends on her and her social network whether or not she does, whether or not she sees a doc. You can write it either way. Seeing the doc is essentially a cursory exam for damage, not collection of evidence, however. No culpascoping, no swabs. They'll schedule follow=up exam, because their concern is STDs (VD is on their mind) and pregnancy. And if the latter occurs, very likely packed off to a home for Girls in Trouble, after which ye olde closed adoption will occur.

You can write a compassionate RN and MD, or you can write brusque treatment. Both occurred then and now.

IceCreamEmpress
06-24-2008, 05:39 AM
This article (http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/Readings/ConstructingRape.html) has some useful pointers to other resources.

This book (http://www.theage.com.au/news/book-reviews/rape-a-history-of-from-1860-to-the-present/2007/11/13/1194766660670.html) looks very interesting; perhaps too expensive to buy, but maybe your library could order it or get it on Interlibrary Loan?

Kalyke
06-24-2008, 06:45 AM
I'm about that age. I was a child (0-10) in the 60's. I was lured into the van of one of my mother's adult friends when I was about 12 years old. He drove me to his apartment and tried to rape me statutorily. I was stupid and young and had never been taught a thing about men, so his actions really freaked me out. I told him how old I was, and he brought me back (it was my step sisters wedding reception). I think if I had been older, he would have gone through with it, but that's just conjecture. First off, I never said anything about it and other than being a bit confused (the guy was in his late 20's or early 30's), nothing was ever said about it. My father would have literally had my head. I confided to one of my brothers in the 90's. But I learned that it was normal for a guy to just find a girl, pull her off the street and have sex at his cool hippie pad with "super-fly" playing in the background. They'd also pull out the marijuana. They used drugs or alcohol a lot to get you on your back. This happened a lot. Every party I went to as a teenager was nothing but wall to wall alcohol and grass and cocaine, which wasn't considered a hard drug. Everytime you went to a friend's house the pipe or the bong came out.

The world of women was very serious about keeping your virginity until marriage. In high school, in the 70's a girl got pregnant. She was treated with kindness, but we always thought she was a slut for getting pregnant. She wasn't harassed or anything, but everyone kept their distance (like it was a disease you could catch). I think all the girls I knew had been raped eventually, by at least college age, usually by an older man. It was kind of understood that those things happened then. In the 50's and early 60's a girl who did not marry who her parents wanted to, or was promiscuous ended up in the D-home and sometimes in a mental ward. Often they would give the child up for adoption, and act like it never happened. You could go to Mexico for an abortion, but it was risky. You would be thrown out on the street, and often live a really hard life. It sounds theatrical, but it happened. There were tons of teenagers running away. There was a huge homeless teenager problem in New York and California mainly because of the hippie movement. It was not a far reach to imagine it happening to you. A lot of girls ran away with their boyfriends and were abandoned. I guess the same could happen now, but back then, there were huge underground populations.

In the 70's, you have to remember it was the sexual revolution-- and this is strange-- swingers-- that's what they called them. They'd throw key parties and swap wives. They thought nothing of seducing little girls. Jail Bait was a prime catch. All that hippie stuff was about being male and having females who would allow you to do anything. The men of the 60's and 70's really treated women as their own personal candy-- and the younger, the better. I used to be woolf whistled by men all the time as a 10 year old and older. Men would grope you, grab you, fondle you, and then quickly walk away, or act like they never did it. Guys would pinch or slap your butt all the time. It was no big deal, it was a greeting. The statistics are that most women my age have been raped at least once. I've been raped about 4 times-- usually by dates-- during the "Disco" era.

That was before AIDS, and the worst that could happen was pregnancy or "the clap." Despite what it might sound like, people were a lot freer with sex and nakedness and so on.

Oh-- I think movies like "Factory Girl" and "The Doors," were pretty accurate.

Gary
06-24-2008, 04:35 PM
I guess it depends on when it happened, and in what part of the country. I grew up in the 50's, in a state with a small population, so I can't speak to what happened in big cities.

Sex crimes were rare where I lived, but when they did happen the victim was treated by a local doctor. I don't know about evidence gathering, but doctors testified as to their opinion if a rape occurred.

Sex crimes got a lot of press, which was often traumatic for the woman. However, the crime was universally reviled by my generation, and juries had no sympathy for rapists, especially if the victim was a minor. Where I lived, most women were not blamed for the crime, and were treated with respect. However, if the woman had a reputation as a someone who hung out in bars and dated a lot of men, rape charges were not often brought, unless there was evidence of a beating.

Then the 60's came along, and things changed.

shakeysix
06-24-2008, 05:07 PM
i grew up in the fifties. in grade school i remember a case in our town where a seven year old girl was raped and beaten but survived. i remember at the time that everyone expected the little girl to get on with childhood once she left the hospital--no after care-certainly no counseling. my mother--a woman ahead of the times in almost every situation, said the little girl should see a doctor who dealt in mental health. of course there were no psychiatrists in our small town but mom said her parents should drive her all the way to wichita or kc to get help because that little girl would have problems all her life and that is what she would do if it happened to any of us. she said that a lady in our neighbor hood mrs. w--mom to friends of mine--had been raped by her stepfather although her mother never left him or believed her. my mother said that is why mrs. w married at 15 and was always drunk. one of the ladies mom was talking to said that if mrs. w had really been raped at 12 why did she want to get pregnant by mr. w when she was only 15? the experience should have taught her something but everyone in town knew that mrs. w had caught mr. w by throwing herself at him, letting him watch her dress through her bedroom window, and getting pregnant.

the little girl's parents moved out of town shortly afterward. never was much of an investigation although almost everyone blamed it on some juvenile deliquent drifter--couldn't be a town man.

all this overheard by a ten year old who should have been outside playing. those were harsh, intolerant, black and white times for females--- be happy you missed them--s6

IceCreamEmpress
06-24-2008, 06:48 PM
Sex crimes were rare where I lived

That's unlikely. More likely is that it was rare for them to be reported.


Where I lived, most women were not blamed for the crime, and were treated with respect. However, if the woman had a reputation as a someone who hung out in bars and dated a lot of men, rape charges were not often brought, unless there was evidence of a beating.

And that would be why.

Penguin Queen
06-24-2008, 08:13 PM
^ What the Empress said.

Gary
06-24-2008, 08:50 PM
That's unlikely. More likely is that it was rare for them to be reported.



And that would be why.

All crime was rare where I lived. We never had a lock on our house and the ignition keys were left in every vehicle. Women were also treated with respect, by young and old alike.

I didn't claim to know about every place, but the question was asked and I responded what it was like where I lived. I was there and I lived it, but if that time was different for you, so be it.

If you weren't there and if your view is based on a strong dose of modern cynicism, then I guess the person asking the question should take that into consideration when seeking accuracy for the story.

shakeysix
06-24-2008, 09:03 PM
i was there and i lived it. what gary said was straight. crime was rare in western kansas also. the case of the 7 year old rape victim was the only rape case i ever heard of in my town in the 50's and 60's. --s6

Fern
06-24-2008, 10:52 PM
What Gary said was also the way it was in my neck of the woods. Not much crime and for the most part court would be pretty harrowing for a rape victim so I'm thinking it may not have always been reported.

I was pretty young at that time, but getting pregnant without marriage was a reputation ruiner. I remember hearing folks talk about more than one family who sent their daughter away (these would have been teenagers during the 50's) to have an illegitimate baby.

I think it would depend on the type family your character is raised in whether or not it would have even been reported. . . even whether the girl would have told her parents or not, for fear of being ostracized if people found out or testifying in court and being blamed for it happening to begin with, or being sent away to wait it out (during those days there wouldn't have been quick pregnancy testing).

Also, whatever decision the man of the house decided would have went, whether it was reported or not reported/ go away if pregnant or stay and tough it out. . . final decision would have been Dad's.

IceCreamEmpress
06-25-2008, 12:18 AM
All crime was rare where I lived. We never had a lock on our house and the ignition keys were left in every vehicle. Women were also treated with respect, by young and old alike.

I understand that this is your belief, but I strongly doubt that you actually knew the incidence of unreported crime in your community, especially sexual assault.

This is not about my "cynicism" as you call it--it's about sociological findings about the disparity between the number of sexual assaults that actually occur and the number that are reported.

Today, the National Crime Victims Survey suggests that more than 60 percent of sexual assaults are unreported. Other studies put the figure even higher.

Most sociologists estimate that the percentage of sexual assault that went unreported in the 1950s United States was closer to 80 percent; some reviews of police and court records suggest that fewer than 25 percent of reported rapes were prosecuted in the US in the 1950s.

I absolutely believe that when you were growing up, you did not hear of many rapes in your community. However, that does not necessarily mean that such crimes were rare, and in fact, sociological research suggests otherwise.


I also grew up in a town where nobody locked their doors and where people left their keys in the car. And yet, I know of five unreported rapes, including my own. Little girls, let alone women, didn't want to report being assaulted, because they would become the targets of gossip and blame.

Remember that most rape occurs between people who know each other, not between strangers.



the case of the 7 year old rape victim was the only rape case i ever heard of in my town in the 50's and 60's

That doesn't mean that other rapes didn't occur, though; it just means that the victims did not come forward.

johnnysannie
06-25-2008, 12:43 AM
i was there and i lived it. what gary said was straight. crime was rare in western kansas also. the case of the 7 year old rape victim was the only rape case i ever heard of in my town in the 50's and 60's. --s6

Except, of course, for the infamous killing of the Clutter family by Smith and Hickock, immortalized forever in Truman Capote's best known work, "In Cold Blood".

shakeysix
06-25-2008, 02:13 AM
odd thing about the clutter killings--neither female was raped. and that one was so memorable because even though it happened 3 hours away from our town everyone in the state knew about it, was frightened and revolted. how many quadruple murders happen now, make the news for a week or two and then are quickly replaced by another, more grizzly murder?

i taught mrs. clutter's great nephew when i taught in gray county kansas in the late nineties. the crime still was being discussed in the communities. it was memorable because it was so rare.
another strange- to- us- fact about the clutter murders was that the murderers were caught, tried and executed so soon after the crime. no dragging on with appeals for five or six years in the fifties. ---s6

johnnysannie
06-25-2008, 02:18 AM
odd thing about the clutter killings--neither female was raped. and that one was so memorable because even though it happened 3 hours away from our town everyone in the state knew about it, was frightened and revolted. how many quadruple murders happen now, make the news for a week or two and then are quickly replaced by another, more grizzly murder?

i taught mrs. clutter's great nephew when i taught in gray county kansas in the late nineties. the crime still was being discussed in the communities. it was memorable because it was so rare.
another strange- to- us- fact about the clutter murders was that the murderers were caught, tried and executed so soon after the crime. no dragging on with appeals for five or six years in the fifties. ---s6

I know that neither of the females were raped but it was a heinous crime, the kind that used to be thought didn't happen in the "Heartland".

shakeysix
06-25-2008, 02:37 AM
ever hear about the carr brothers in wichita kansas? google it and your blood will curdle. my daughters went to school with victims and murderers. no, the heartland is not sacred anymore. dennis raider, donald nemececk and the grainfield murders all happened in the seventies and eighties but the fifties and sixties were a different time.

i'm not saying they were good times. i know that rapes, especially familial rapes, were most often overlooked in those days. reporting a rape was something that nice girls did not do. sorry but that was the way it was. what happened in your house stayed in your house, even if your father beat your mother every saturday night. but still, things were more secure. kids went out at seven or eight in the morning and did not come home till dinner time. no one ever vanished. my father once picked up and shook a teenager for saying the F word in front of my mom and a neighbor lady. no one sued over the incident.

we played out until after dark, chasing lightning bugs and playing flashlight tag. we had no seat belts on car trips, took two or three aspirins at a time and swam in dirty water. and we all lived. bicycles and cars were unlocked and we slept with all the windows open . i am sorry but that was the way it was. ---s6

Kalyke
06-25-2008, 03:05 AM
As good as swift justice looks on paper, they find that more people are in jail and even on death row who were railroaded by cops eager to wrap up a case and move on. I'd rather justice be slow than to find out that some one was put to death for a crime he or she did not commit. I don't even really believe in confessions because too many people have been suicidal, or forced into confessing. -- sorry it's off topic.

blackrose602
06-25-2008, 04:58 AM
My mom was sexually assaulted when she was a little kid in 1950s small town Florida by a member of her extended family. Thankfully he was interrupted before he could get too far. He was an older man, accepted by the family as being "eccentric," though all of his kids ended up with serious mental health issues.

Another of the relatives (female) found out about it and confronted my mom about it -- told her to get on her knees and pray for forgiveness of the evil inside her!

My mom didn't tell her mom until my mom was in her 40s. Even then, her mother just denied that it ever happened. My mom was chronically ill by then (physically, not mentally), and my grandmother told everyone that her illness must have made her confused. I feel bad for my mom's generation of women.

FinbarReilly
06-25-2008, 05:31 AM
First off, killing one urban legend: Contrary to certain feminist propaganda, not all women have been raped. Some groups put forth the idea that all sex between men and women should be considered rape, regardless of consensus between the two or not. Because of that statement, a lot of women automatically figure that most, if not all women, will be raped in their lifetime at least once. In an era where two Michigan girls claimed rape just because they weren't happy with their experience, that point needs to be made.

This isn't because I'm trying to make light of your experience; I'm just trying to point out that victims of any crime tend to look for it even in places where it doesn't happen. In other words: Yes, rape happens, and yes, I agree that it is way underreported, but, just like any crime, you are more likely to hear of it happening than actually happening to you (again, not trying to make light of your personal experience, just trying to point out that it's not as common as you would think).

And, yeah: Girls in the 50's were pretty much screwed by rape. The hatred and discrimination alone made their lives hell. It didn't get better until it was realized that women had no choice over a lot of it, as well as the rise in women's rights (putting them into power positions seemed to help for some reason).

Of course, the irony is that girls that were discreet in their promiscuity could pretty much anything that they wanted to...

FR

FinbarReilly
06-25-2008, 05:35 AM
I don't even really believe in confessions because too many people have been suicidal, or forced into confessing. -- sorry it's off topic.

Hardly. Too many girls were condemned for promiscuity simply based on their looks, and too many guys were arrested for rape who didn't do it, but the guys who did were let off because they were popular or what not.

So it's on topic...

FR