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Sunday, April 18, 2021

AVIE POLL: IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE RAPED IN A VIRTUAL WORLD?


April is Rape Awareness Month. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti sexual violence organization shows that every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Statistics show 1 out of 6 American women have been victims of attempted rape or raped and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. These are staggering statistics. How can we help?

The Me Too Movement has been a resource since 2006 and really became mainstream in 2017 when many well known celebrities began to use their voice and support the movement on social media and speak out against sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Many women and men who have been victimized feel shame or embarrassment so they suffer in silence while others report their abusers with hope for justice and to help spare other victims. 


This is a serious topic that affects millions around the world. While Second Life is a virtual platform where people come and feel a sense of security from physical abuse,  some would say rape cannot happen in a virtual world because we have the ability to log off, teleport to safety, report harassment to Linden Labs, mute, boot and ban the sexual offender. 


With all these safety tools to combat an attempted rape in a virtual world, there are residents that still have been sexually exploited or victimized unwillingly. Some residents were on the fence about the topic because there are a couple of roleplay communities that engage in sexual assault and abuse as a kink. It is sad to say those fetishes may be stem from rl rape and abuse. I am not referring to those types of fetish venues. They use RLV Huds that give permission for avie control. 


In other instances in Second Life, attempted and virtual rapes have occurred in various communities by offenders who often get away with that behavior. For example, leaving your avie unattended while you go AFK. If you are seated in a chair that allows for couples and sex. Someone can easily sit on a poseball and begin manipulating the menu to do sex acts on the unsuspecting party only for the to return to being violated without permission. Another instance is during a sexual encounter the offender begins to roleplay an assault without consent. Is this a grey area because no real physical harm was done but what about the emotional effects it leaves behind? 

I asked avatars across the grid if they considered it virtual sexual assault even if it is done by emoting, poseballs or voicing actions of rape if consent was not given. Here are their opinions and stories. * names have been changed to protect their identities.


Justyn: "Yes, of course rape is possible! I mean, how else would I get laid in sl? But seriously, yes I believe it is possible and most likely happening to newbies and perhaps younger people due to their lack of understanding SL. Consent isn’t exactly needed for AFK fuckers, but I don’t think some know enough and are taken advantage of due to their naivety and therefore are truly not giving consent which equates to rape to me."

Jane: YES! Rape and Assualt is possible in virtual worlds, although not as likely to happen as often as in RL. Statistics show that violence against women comes mostly at the hands of someone we know. So Assault is often as much a result or circumstance of emotional manipulation, as it could be a result or circumstance of physical strength overpowering another. In second life no one is really physically stronger, so this element is virtually removed.  However emotionally we possibly might not be that different than our RL selves.  So if we allow ourselves to succumb emotionally, against our will, then it's possible. I mean... lots of people are interested to know what the other is doing on the other end; e.g. "are you touching yourself?"  It's possible that we would feel obligated to do such things if the emotional attachment gets strong enough.  And it's possible we would do it even against our better judgement or free will; especially if we feel there is risk of losing what we are attached to, or if we are otherwise conditioned to think we are inadequate for some reason unless we complied.``


Taran: “So, my hubby and I first came into online gaming for the fantasies.. We wanted to play some out without actually bringing someone into our bedroom... We then came over to SL to live a more "Normal" Avi Life :) But even here we have tried a few things... 

In Second Life there is a Hud, Called SIN,,, It is a virtual Reality about that very thing. Being abducted and Raped.. But where you can turn it on and off and control when and HOW you are to be abducted..  . Lol, i didn't last long, because i WAS attacked on what was supposed to be my SAFE ZONE,, At my house with my daughters there. HE then attached something to me that made it very hard to move about. I was VERY lucky to have been brought on by a 14 year vet of the game and he knew how to get me fixed,, the next day i was taken made to get preg and was forced to accept a hud that would make me sick if i didn't receive the abductors cum every 12 hrs,, AGAIN my WONDERFUL friend to the rescue...  That was the end of that... 

See with this hud we have choices and even still we weren't REALLY safe... Unconsented  sex is RAPE. Under any form, and even on here, i have talked to women who have been made to feel like trash and told to go kill themselves because they are escorts, and to some of the men they are just trash,, ABUSE and Rape in SL can be and is very real.. I consented for two days  and had horrible experiences,  now consider how i would feel if i hadn't…”


Sarah: Yes, I would consider it virtual sexual assault in those instances if both parties were not in agreement before the scene begins. I have been in a situation where the conversation was not supposed to get physical but the other person forced themselves on me and I did not feel I could just leave because it happened at the club I worked at (adult) and as a member of staff sometimes it felt like there was implied consent even if we didn't consent. Following this particular incident, I was left feeling very violated.


Paul: “I would definitely consider it assault. It is called Consent. Men get really tricky. I've been harassed, and a known person tried to lure me. You should be able to trust somebody, but people have taken advantage. It's happened with me, and people I know. It is an assault if I did not want it or give consent. It's happened where people kissed me and I did not want it. You should be able to trust your friend on a pose, or sofa.

 

Emotes can be too much sometimes. It can make me or my SL partner feel uncomfortable. It also affects people RL too, RL partners wouldn't like it. It can be considered assault if they've been told to stop and not listened. And further action might need to be taken. Always take care in how you treat people in SL.”


Kelly: While in a virtual world you have the ability to say no and log out at any time. I do believe there are predators out in this world that do and can manipulate a persons mind and heart to a point they feel trapped, confused and afterwards they feel violated much like a real life rape would be.  So YES, I feel it can happen in a virtual world. Those AFK and someone that does that too them as well can feel used and abused.  Has it ever happened to me in SL? Yes I was afk on some furniture at my home and someone came in and was having fun with my Avie.  I was angry at first and of course ejected and banned them etc.  But after I calmed down I did feel a sense of violation.”  


Johnny: “Well that is a slippery slope. While the moral side is, no matter virtual or not not getting consent is rape. But is it really happening to you or just your avie? While me personally believe nothing like this virtual or especially in real life should ever happen. There are some arguments against it happening in Virtual world. The person being raped male or female has the ability to shut down their computer thus ending it, or teleporting away. They are not held down or restrained. So in that essence it is not rape but still a violation against them. So to answer your question is it possible? Yes if you allow it and don’t use the means to get away.”


Stephen: “Actually. No.  I do not believe you can be “raped” in SL. This is a world of pixels.  That is it.  Yeah..we all read profiles that say  “Remember:  Behind every Avi is a REAL Person:...well….not always.  Check out any of the “F__K Me, I’m AFK!” sims.  Uhhmm..errrr….so I have heard anyway.  I have never really BEEN to those places...but I wander.  I know there are sims with RLVs and such things where you can initiate a fairly fanciful scene of forced sex, for those who are into that sort of thing…. Yeah..Online bullying can be a problem, especially on social media Web sites...but….come on, man...Rape? 


I have to say, I am kinda offended that someone would even try to apply a word like “RAPE” to what can happen to cartoon avis.  Rape is a tremendously horrible crime, that tears human flesh, crushes spirits, and scars people for life in the real. Just ask someone who has experienced that for real. It is one of the WORST crimes possible, and people who perpetrate such horrors in the RL on others should be castrated so they can NEVER again do that to another person.  Rape is one of the most terrifying things a person can experience  with lifelong consequences.  To even suggest that what happens to these cartoon avis is rape?  You’re kidding, right??  Well..that strikes me as  the highest form of disrespect you can show to someone and trivializes those who have been raped and sodomized in real life.  Ask anyone who has been raped for real.   Saying cartoons are raped?  Are you kidding me? 




The consensus for this Avie Poll is yes, rape is possible in a virtual world because victims felt a sense of violation. The argument could be that we as second life residents have the ability to log out if we feel threatened or unsafe. However, from the perspective of both males or females who are mentally abused and are scared, it might be hard for them to leave the situation or log out for fear of further threats or abuse by the perpetrator.  Maybe some should reevaluate the reason for logging into SL or avoid venues were there is adult content and sex. Even by taking those precautions, abusive situations can occur.


Some of the experiences shared by participants in SL  happened when they were AFK by a stranger while others were caught off guard by an encounter that did not end well.  Either way, we are taught No means No whether it is in real life or a virtual world.

 

Stephen’s comment was very strong and shared a point that needs to be seriously addressed.  A virtual sexual assault is NOT the same as a real sexual assault physically, but can cause emotional abuse and that is still considered trauma. 


If you feel threatened or in a situation in SL that is not comfortable for you, teleport away or just log off for a while and let the situation defuse. If you are unable to then msg someone and let them know what is going on. This is a situation that should not be taken lightly. 


If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault or abuse, you are not alone, help is available. Please, do not hesitate to use the resources below. 


Resources:

https://www.rainn.org/

https://metoomvmt.org/

https://victimconnect.org/learn/types-of-crime/sexual-assault/ 



See More Avie Polls here: http://www.slenquirer.com/search/label/Avie%20Poll


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