SOURCE: Author Nancy Williams

Author Nancy Williams

May 18, 2011 17:32 ET

Expert Reveals Little Difference Exists Between Instance of Rape on the Frontier and Today

PITTSBURGH, PA--(Marketwire - May 18, 2011) - Women in the Wild West didn't have it so good.

Sexual assault ran rampant in the Old West, but the numbers of rapes that went unreported or unprosecuted back then aren't much different than those today, according to one expert.

"In the last 150 years, we've built the frontier into a metropolis, yet we've made no progress in defending women against sexual assault," said Nancy Williams, a veteran staffer of a women's crisis center and author of Hawkmoon (, a historical novel that traces the life of a rape survivor in the Old West. "The Justice Department says more than 20 percent of all women report they've been sexually assaulted, while only one in 10 rapes is ever actually reported to law enforcement."

Williams believes that it's as difficult today for a woman to prosecute an attacker as it was back in the frontier days, and wished she could reach every victim with the following messages:

  • It's not your fault -- Rape is not about desire or lust. It's a crime of power and control, and the fault for it taking place is solely with the attacker.

  • What's happening to you is not "normal" -- In many families, the abusers were once abused themselves, and so their victims are led to believe that abuse is a normal part of human relationships. It is not, and you don't need to live with it.

  • You are not alone -- One in five women say they've been assaulted at some point in their lives, so you are not alone in your suffering, and many past victims have become counselors themselves.

  • You are loveable and powerful -- You were not raped because you are worthless. You are loveable and powerful, and you are worth fighting for, but you have to first want to fight for yourself.

"The numbers are scary; even scarier are the stories victims tell," Williams said. "If we are going to have a chance at showing some real progress, we are going to have to work hard to help victims become empowered so they can find justice and healing in their lives."

About Nancy Williams

Nancy Williams is a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. She worked as the grant writer for Women's Services, Inc, a domestic/sexual violence center.

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