MCASA E-lert: Tell JPR to Bring the Consent Bill to a Vote- Some Rape Victims Freeze- They Deserve Justice Too

Mar 26th, 2024

Trauma Causes Some Victims to Freeze
Don't Blame Victims - Don't Gut the Consent Bill

Ask Senate Judicial Proceedings (JPR)
Committee Members to
Conform SB758 to the House Bill

The House of Delegates passed the Consent bill and now it's up to the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee to consider the bill.

Maryland needs to stand with survivors

Rape crisis centers hear it over and over: "I wanted to move, but I just couldn't" or "I tried to scream, but nothing happened."

Research is clear: trauma can cause a flight or fight response, but it also causes some humans to freeze. 

Right now, Maryland's rape law fails survivors who freeze.  When one person has sex with someone else without consent, lack of consent is not enough, Maryland’s rape law requires force or threat of force.

Force or Threat of Force is proven by focusing on the survivor/victim and whether they resist. Victims who freeze are just left out - they experience rape, but the law doesn't protect them.

Senate Bill 758 would repeal the archaic and victim blaming statute requiring proof of "force or threat of force" and House amendments require that in cases involving fear, threat, or coercion, the defendant must (or should) have known their actions would cause the victim to submit.  This is fair and balanced language that would recognize rape without requiring that anyone read someone else's mind.

Ask the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to conform SB758 to the House Bill and vote favorably.

JPR heard testimony about the freeze response from experts, but they also heard from a survivor's mom (edited for length & privacy):

My name is Jennifer J and I am speaking on behalf of my daughter RJ.

RJ was a patient of the pediatrician since she was one week old and continued to see him throughout her 18 years.  RJ developed anxiety and sought advice and medication for treatment.  RJ confided in her doctor...and shared with him the struggles she was having as she felt comfortable and trusted him.

I always attended RJ’s doctor appointments, however I was stuck at work and unable to attend.  RJ indicated it was not a big deal as the appointment was a routine prescription check that would only be 5-10 minutes long.

The appointment started routinely with vital checks and questions about how the prescription was making her feel and then the doctor told RJ to lay down on the examination table.  RJ was uncomfortable and did not expect this and she started to experience an anxiety attack. The doctor kept talking to her about nonsense topics all the while putting his hands in her pants and touching her lower abdomen and then lower to her vagina where he digitally penetrated her. 

RJ never at any point gave the pediatrician consent. 

During the trial the judge found RJ extremely credible but found the doctor not guilty of 2nd Degree Rape because under Maryland law in order to find guilt there needed to be proof of force. 

I am writing this because RJ is not mentally able to discuss, relive and experience the trauma again.  As she now has fear of going to doctor’s offices and of doctors RJ is no longer pursuing a career in the medical field and struggles with panic and anxiety attacks on a daily basis. 

Please remove the force aspect and codify consent and please vote favorably to give my daughter and other rape victims hope for justice in the future.

RJ had a natural physiological response. She froze up and didn't resist.  And the law tells her and other rape survivors like her: you didn't respond, you didn't resist.  The law failed RJ.

Don't let this happen again.  Repeal the force requirement.

We need your calls to change Maryland's rape law by repealing language that focuses on whether a victim resisted.

Sponsored by Senator Ariana Kelly, SB 758 strikes “force or threat of force” from the statute, leaving “without the consent of the other” and provides a definition of “consent.” This is NOT affirmative consent.

Please call the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee today and ask them to adopt the same amendments as the House and issue 
a favorable report on SB 758!


Will Smith, Jr., Chair (District 20, Montgomery)
Phone: 410-841-3634 | 301-858-3634
[email protected]

Jeff Waldstreicher, Vice Chair (District 18, Montgomery)
Phone: 410-841-3137 | 301-858-3137
[email protected]

Baltimore City
Jill Carter (District 41, Baltimore City)
Phone: 410-841-3697 | 301-858-3697
[email protected]

Baltimore County
Charles Sydnor, III (District 44, Baltimore County)
Phone: 410-841-3612 | 301-858-3612
[email protected]

Baltimore & Carroll Counties
Chris West (District 42, Baltimore & Carroll)
Phone: 410-841-3648 | 301-858-3648
[email protected]

Frederick County
William Folden (District 4, Frederick)
Phone: 410-841-3704 | 301-858-3704
[email protected]

Garrett, Allegany, & Washington Counties
Mike McKay (District 1, Garrett, Allegany, & Washington)
Phone: 410-841-3565 | 301-858-3565
[email protected]

Harford County
Mary-Dulaney James (District 34, Harford)
Phone: 410-841-3158 | 301-858-3158
[email protected]

Montgomery County
Ariana Kelly (District 16, Montgomery)
Phone: 410-841-3124 | 301-858-3124
[email protected]

Prince George's County
Nick Charles (District 25, Prince George's)
Phone: 410-841-3127 | 301-858-3127
[email protected]

Anthony Muse (District 26, Prince George's)
Phone: 410-841-3092 | 301-858-3092
[email protected]

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