Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

April is National Sexaul Assault Awareness Month

March 24, 2010

I got my CD in the mail today containing a lot of helpful planning materials and posters and so on from SAAM.  I meet tomorrow with one of my co-organizers for the project.

We are considering a lot of different ideas for raising awareness, and hopefully for raising money for our local crisis center.  We may sell ribbons s well as host a survivor art exhibition or even a clothesline project.

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What are your experiences? (Readily Open to Comments)

February 5, 2010
We aren’t so far from April now which has been labeled as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As many as 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, 1 in 33 men. I’m starting this now because April isn’t the only month to worry about, and maybe this post will gain some momentum by then. I didn’t start writing this list with such a goal in mind, but when I’d more or less finished with it I wanted to do something. I have known many, many people to experience various forms of sexual abuse and assault, but their stories are not mine to share. Just remember that the people you know help to make up these statistics. Keep this in mind when you see someone being taken advantage of, when you find yourself facing a similar situation, or when you are tempted to make a joke about rape or the fact that your ____test “totally raped” you, or when you laugh at these jokes on shows like Family Guy or in so many popular movies. 
And remember that even the “small things” are part of the big picture in a culture where these kinds of crimes are so prominent, ranging from street harassment to violent assaults. 

Feel free to pass on this message as you like, and to change the latter half with a “This is my list:” 

Please include links to RAINN.ORG or similar resources. 

These are the things I’ve experienced. No names are mentioned. 

(Warning: This post is potentially triggering and many may not be comfortable reading it.)

  •  A boy in my seventh or eighth grade classroom talked to me explicitly about blow jobs (and a story with a girl in it who he’d obviously humiliated too if the story was true) while I tried to make him stop talking to me and kept turning away. He mocked me. Another girl and another boy, who made similar comments often, both encouraged him and laughed. 
  • A boy I walked with on the beach asked me repeatedly about my sexual experiences and how often I’d kissed anyone and let me know that he and his friend (who was walking with my friend) were in a sort of competition with each other, betting who would get kissed and so on. He kept trying to make me walk further away with him to leave my friend behind. He was annoyed I wouldn’t hold his hand. He showed me the pot leaf on his “cool” watch and told me about making out with various girls and how it was. He asked if my mother would approve, clearly amused. He kept asking if I would do anything even when I said no. He pointed to a bra laying on the beach and made and off remark. In fact, I documented most of this one in an old journal entry: 

Then he’s trying to woo me on the beach or something, for the past hour or so he’s been mercilessly hounding me with questions and going “so are you afraid to let a guy kiss you” and I keep responding with things like. “No, I just dont kiss guys I’m not attracted to” or “I havent met anyone here worth it” and “i never said I hadnt, I just said that I’m picky” and so many other things and then I emphasized that I would never even go near him, but he just didnt get it. So then he’s trying to be all suave or subtle like and he goes :

“So if I tried to kiss you right now, you’d probably slap me or something right?”

He’s obviously hoping I’ll be like “Of course not” or “Why don’t we see”

And so I say “Possibly” and decide I’m going to kick the shit out of him if I get the chance because he’s really getting on my nerves now.

And he’s all like “damn, too much of that, you probably would.” and I want to scream “No I wouldnt, I’d punch you before I’d slap you, and then let you bleed to death on the beach and hope someone tore your kidneys out.”

(Actually at one point in the walk he’d stepped on a crab claw, I was kind of hoping infection would set in quickly and take him out.)

While I channeled much of my anger here, and probably my friends and I laughed about some of this story, I still remember how anxious I was the whole time. 

  • Some of the boys on my bus in high school made inappropriate comments to me. Others snapped rubber bands against me as I walked off the bus and grabbed for my butt. I’m still furious that I didn’t do anything about it, and that it’s a “normal” experience. 

 

  • When I broke up with a highschool boyfriend his “close friend” tormented me over AIM that summer, asking me if I had ever “been with a guy,” and calling me a “frigid lesbian” and a “c***.” He told me I would be alone and that no one would ever want to touch me. The meanest thing I ever said in response? That I just didn’t “feel that way” about the person, and that I didn’t like being harrassed. Do I still get mad when I see this guy, years later? Yeah. He verbally, sexually harassed me over a matter that was none of his business to begin with and found numerous ways to state that I was a worthless human being. 
  • The same summer I was sexually assaulted/molested/abused by a boy near my age who didn’t care if I said “No.” The way he talked to me and treated me were similarly horrible. What do I owe to him? A legacy of panic attacks, PTSD symptoms, and possibly my fibromyalgia. 
  • A guy in college talked to me and two friends, putting down the guy and trying to “impress” us two girls with his unwanted presence. After he verbally announced it was clear he wasn’t “going to get laid here,” he left. 
  • On the way to a club in D.C. several men yelled at me and my friends, most notably “How much for head?” 
  • On the dance floor a guy who I refused to dance with grinded against me anyway as I pushed and elbowed him. He tried to put his hands in my pockets and then tried to put them in the waistband of my jeans before I turned around again and he left. Another young man watched my friends and I dancing together, just standing there leering. When I stopped because I felt so uncomfortable he looked at me and said “Don’t stop, keep going” in one of the creepiest tones I’ve heard. A guy in another club grabbed my arm to pull me to dance with him even as I pulled away and told him no, I was unavailable. He tried to justify forgetting my boyfriend as he was married. I had to twist my arm around to get away. I can’t even begin to number the similar scenarios. I have been asked politely to dance without any accompanying grabbing ONCE. 
  • When visiting my boyfriend I sat inside his dorm room while his hallmates pounded on the door, cheering loudly, and shouting “Way to tap that.” 
  • Last year a group of boys in a truck honked and shouted at me, the driver revving the engine. I avoided looking back, but when they continued and I turned my head for a moment they added “YEAH, YOU!” Not so flattering. 

 

I’ve been reading

February 4, 2010

Jezebel: Guys Who Grope

In Canada: Time to End Pelvic Exams Without Consent (*& Performed on unconscious patients) I can’t believe this was ever allowed.

A Study on Fibromyalgia & Trauma/Victimization

Resources

February 3, 2010

Sexual Assault AwarenessIf you are a victim and/or survivor of sexual assault, you are far from alone.  I wanted to share what resources I could and hope that this list will grow and possibly help someone out there.

———-

RAINN

“The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at rainn.org, and publicizes the hotline’s free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.”

RAINN also hosts a confidential, volunteer run, online chat hotline which I can recommend first hand.

Pandora’s Project

“Pandora’s Project offers peer support to anyone who has been a victim of rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse through our online support group, Pandora’s Aquarium. We believe that connecting with other rape and sexual abuse survivors is an important part of healing. Our online support group includes a message board, chat room, and blogs. It is free to join and is safely moderated by a diverse group of survivors.”

After Silence

After Silence is designed to help victims become survivors, and communicate in the recovery of sexual violence. Our mission is to support, empower, validate, and educate survivors, as well as their families and supporters. The core of our organization is a support group, message board, and chat room where victims and survivors come together online in a mutually supportive and safe environment.

Information on PTSD via WebMD

“PTSD was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans, hence the names shell shock and battle fatigue syndrome. However, PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. People who have been abused as children or who have been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations are at greater risk for developing PTSD. Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk for PTSD.”

For “Secondary Survivors”: It’s Your Duty to Respond Well to Your Friend’s Sexual Assault Disclosure

I intend to keep a link to this post docked in the future and to update it as I find more resources. (Feel free to post your suggestions as well.)

Reading Recommendations and Updates

December 28, 2009

Roman Polanski sent heartfelt thanks to his supporters.  What a hard time he must be having in his chalet.  Anyone else disgusted by the amount of sympathy a man who raped and sodomized a 13 year old girl is receiving? (Oh, but he’s an artist, and rich, so it’s okay.)

Melissa McEwin on the progress of same-sex marriage rights

El Cerrito School On Edge After Alleged Rape  A principal continues to defend her school. In the past she has claimed there was no rape (in which a boy trapped a girl in a stairwell and assaulted her), and other administrators have spoken against the victim.  Many defend the school, but this isn’t about an attack on the school. It’s about protecting children, so however “good” the school is it needs to be better, and in no case should school officials be engaging in victim blaming like this, thus inviting the rest of the community to do so.

Why is it that alleged sexual assaults are always spoken about with such speculation? He couldn’t have done that.  If you knew the sort of girl she was… I don’t think it was “rape-rape” and so on…

It’s your duty to respond well to your friend’s sexual assault disclosure (From feministing community)

Living with Sexual Assault

December 27, 2009

Trigger Warning *

When I write about living with sexual assault, I mean living with it every day.  While my personal experiences have greatly influenced my writing here, I have not openly discussed them. After years of going over and over everything that happened, explanations remain difficult.  Is there really any explanation for what happened? Bad luck?

I was 16.  He was nice to me at first. I made the “mistake” of trusting him and the boy who was my first kiss would also be the one to touch and grope me without my consent, to ignore me when I said no, to make excuses for “just one thing”.  He would be the one to rate me numerically, valuing my looks and “sex appeal” over personality, to make me cringe anytime I heard “sexy” or “beautiful,” to insist that he had something to “teach” me.  He would be the one to star in numerous flashbacks and nightmares.

After that it was hard to feel comfortable with myself, let alone another person. 

For a year I tried to pretend nothing happened.  Even when I did process these things, labelling myself as the victim of an assault was difficult. Over the years I have talked and talked and written, too.  That doesn’t stop it from feeling like a secret I have to carry, a burden not to be shared with everyone.

On any day I can be triggered.  The panic/anxiety attacks I used to experience have faded in frequency, but unpleasant memories continue to surface.  My coping skills have improved, but the facts of the matter have not.

Living with the aftermath means never knowing when you’ll be okay or what okay is or if it’s really fair for people to expect you to be fine. 

It means being “sensitive” when people joke about assault and rape, belonging to a group of people who have seen the realities of this kind of victimization.  Sometimes it means feeling like I’m in another realm.  Sometimes it means I’m angry or sad or hurt or incapable of accepting the cruel things people can say to one another.

Am I easily offended? Yes. So is everyone.  In fact, it’s easy to hurt anyone. That doesn’t make it acceptable to do so, or mean that I should have to apologize for recognizing a problem that blatantly exists.

I have grown in so many ways, stronger in spite of, not because of, what happened to me.  I have been told not to be bitter, but I have to say, that isn’t so easy.

That PTSD and Fibromyalgia are linked? That makes me bitter.  When I consider all the pain I’ve had and all that Im likely to experience, I am angry.

Despite my decision to finally confront the person who hurt me by writing a letter,  I never received an apology. That makes me bitter too.

That I’ve spent so much time blaming myself for things beyond my control? You can see the pattern.

So here I am, in the open, as a “survivor,” hesitant to credit the boy who hurt me for any of my strength, but unable to deny that what happened to me has shaped my life, but not as much as I have through my actions. 

Writing these things, I am not passive.  I do what I can to make my voice heard. I do what I can to make my life better and to help others if I can.

Read this Blog

December 8, 2009

Well I Guess That’s Us Told

Melissa McEwin responds to Ad Age’s suggestion (after Method pulled an ad which equated soap scum with rape):

While the words in this space are usually directed at marketers, we’d like to take an opportunity to talk to all of those out there who often find themselves so offended by ads that they feel a need to launch a crusade. To you we say: “Take a deep breath. Have some perspective.”

Anyway, McEwin says a lot of things in her reply that just make sense– how refreshing.  Also, I’ve been dealing with the “Why do you look for ways to get offended?” discussion a lot this week when I can’t help but see them. And my complaints? Somehow worse and more upsetting than the problems I complain about, apparently. Here’s an excerpt:

The notion that anti-rape advocates look for things about which to get offended is manifest horseshit: The truth is, if I actually spent my days actively paying attention to every example of rape apologia around me, I would be a profoundly unhappy woman. Not bitchy or grumpy or short-tempered, but paralyzingly depressed. Women have to train themselves to avoid consciously reacting to every bit of rape-advocating detritus permeating the culture through which we all move, lest they go quite insane. I write about the things I can’t not write about. If I wrote about all the examples of sexual predation I see every day, I’d never sleep.

And the recommendation to “ignore the little stuff,” so often intertwined with accusations of looking for things about which to get offended (as here), is not merely condescending, but counter to the objective of stopping rape. The “little stuff” is the fertile soil in which everything else takes root and from whence everything else springs; it’s the way that the fundamental idea that sexual assault is acceptable is conveyed over and over and over again.

Which, quite frankly, means that if even we did have to look for it, we’d be right to do so.

Today

December 4, 2009

I’ve been short on words and overwhelmed with work the last few weeks, but here are a few more links to share as I’m still doing a lot of reading:

Sainsbury’s shopworker refuses to sell pregnant woman Cheddar cheese

This one is just ridiculous.  Since when are grocers and deli workers health experts?  And since when do they have the right to pry because they have visually detected a woman is pregnant? Especially when they don’t even know what they are talking about…I understand the worker may have had good intentions, but she had no right to go on patronizing the customer and making her vow not to eat the cheese if she was “allowed” to purchase it.

“Ask Amy” Doles Out Some Terrible Rape-Related Advice

This one makes me ill and the “Ask Amy” response is full of the same old victim blaming seen every day, now complete with even more “credibility.”

Reading Recommendations

November 10, 2009

Recommended reading:

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville on the Stupak Amendment & Obama’s Response I also recommend reading the other posts on Shakesville addressing this.

I want this book: Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape

Where is your line: An online project I’m just starting to explore about mutual consent and affection… respect too!

An article by GimliGirl on Shakesville

Not the Man I Know” (or He wouldn’t do that)