How to be an Ally: Part Two

As a follow-up to my previous post, “How to be an Ally” I wanted to share another great article.

It really can be hard to know what to do or say when someone comes to you with their pain.  The following article is written by another woman who has worked at a rape crisis center.  Her main point is that it is not your job to become the counselor.  You don’t have to have all the right words.  You don’t need to have any words.  Just be present with the other person and be a witness to their story.

Be a Human: Helping People Through Trauma When You Don’t Know What To Say

“At some moment, perhaps several moments, in your life, you will be in a room with someone who is disclosing to you about their trauma, rape, domestic violence, human trafficking, suicide, etc. You may freeze up or panic. “What should I do?” You may not know this person, or you may not want to know this person. You may want to leave the room and not come back. Or maybe they’re your dad, or your girlfriend. Maybe you will leave, maybe you won’t. For argument’s sake, and because I have nowhere to go with this if you don’t stay, let’s say you stay. What now…?”

Read the rest here

Tomorrow is Halloween.  Have fun and be safe!  See you in November.

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Dear Beloved: A Letter from Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane University and the host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry,” writes a letter to the Steubenville survivor.  In it she states that the young woman’s name is not important but it is important for her to know that she is believed.  She thanks her for having the courage to speak out.

Check it out.  What do you think?

“Survivor Art Show”

A fellow blogger, who is working to End Rape Culture, is putting together an art show in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  According to her post “[the]show will consist of work by survivors, responding to their recovery and emotions…”  This sounds like a really neat opportunity for survivors to express their experiences and healing process in a healthy way.  I encourage you to check it out.  Read her post here, or visit the link “Call for Work: Recovering after Sexual Assault” for more information and to see how to submit your work.

From the author/organizer: “I look forward to seeing your work! Remember that you’re incredibly brave and strong. Speaking up isn’t easy, but when you do, you never know the other lives you may touch.”

Because We Are Over It

**Trigger Warning**

“I am over rape.

I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.

I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame.

I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues, and the founder of One Billion Rising, again puts words to the frustrations of so many people.  Of so many women.  When you live in a culture that perpetuates rape, even “unintentionally,” you can only take so much.  There comes a point when you have to stand up and put your foot down.  I think that time is coming.  Too many women have had enough of watching our sisters suffer.  Too many women have been told that they were raped or sexually assaulted because they did something wrong.  This is not okay and it has to stop.

“We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office. We need people to truly try and imagine — once and for all — what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered. We need to let our rage and our compassion connect us so we can change the paradigm of global rape.

There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.

ONE BILLION WOMEN.

The time is now. Prepare for the escalation.

Today it begins, moving toward February 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape.

Because we are over it.”

You Are a Survivor

I was preparing to do a new “Bees in my Bonnet” post and then I came across the following video on End Rape Culture.  This video was done by Project Unspoken at Emory University in Georgia.  They are working towards breaking the silence that surrounds sexual assault and rape culture.  I’ve shared one of their videos before called “I am tired of the silence.”


“Dear Viewer,
Project Unspoken was created as a summer intern project at Emory University’s Office of Health Promotion’s Respect Program (http://www.bewellexcel.org/respect). It was a reaction to the prominent silence surrounding the issues of rape, sexual assault, and relationship violence. Even though gender-based violence is widespread, it is often an issue surrounded by silence. Project Unspoken strives to educate the public by providing easy to access information on YouTube and other media forms. This project’s goal is to increase awareness and encourage society to challenge these injustices that exist in today’s world. This will be the first of many videos to come. Project Unspoken will continue to work towards ending rape, sexual assault, and relationship violence as long as these problems are present. Sexual assault and relationship violence should not be left unspoken. Thank you for viewing this video!
Sincerely,
Project Unspoken Staff”

How to Aid a Rapist

(I meant to make my next post about something lighter, I really did.  There are just too many idiots out there to correct.  And of course I, and I alone, have all the answers.  🙂 )

The internet is a great thing.  If I have a question all I have to do is google it.  I don’t have a television but I can still keep up to date with what’s going on in the world through the net.  It has allowed easy access to knowledge for the masses.  Whether or not the information is correct is a different story.  Which brings me to my point.

Turns out everyone has an opinion.  While we’ve always known this, the internet is able to give anyone and everyone a space to voice their opinions.  All kinds of trolls and idiots who used to only bother their friends and families with their opinions are suddenly able to spew ignorance and hate anywhere they please.  The barrier and anonymity of the computer screen also allows for dehumanization.  Not saying that every person who says something mean or spiteful online wouldn’t also do it in person, but they may think twice.  Instead of using all the potential knowledge that is at their finger tips they insist on spreading the ignorance.

Take for example the following commenter and why I am currently so angry that I keep having to pause, and refrain from saying something incredibly stupid and hurtful back.  I have learned not to read through the comments on pieces related to rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault.  They are often hurtful and intended to shame or blame the survivor.  This upsets me more than virtually anything else as it is something that I am well-educated on, have personal experience, and know several survivors.  I do not understand how there are so many misconceptions and so much ignorance around these issues.  So many of the things I hear from people are either archaic notions about a woman’s purity, or myths that have been debunked over and over again.

I was recently reading an article about how many states do not have laws against a rapist seeking parental rights if he impregnates the woman and she decides to have the baby.  This is extremely upsetting to me in and of itself and I naively thought others would be upset as well.  So, I went against my better judgement and scrolled through the comments.  Not only did people not agree with me but the comments turned towards defining what rape is and who can be raped.  That is when I came across this gem.  Pay attention to the second commenter.

Chartreuxe: “It happens: 90% of rapists get away with their crimes because of the 18th century attitudes of society. The victim is held responsible for her rape. Most rapes aren’t reported. I didn’t report mine.”

sc2pilot: “Chartreuxe: If you did not report it, then you were not raped. Failure to report is tantamount to consent. That’s all there is to it.”

Are you kidding me?!  There are so many things wrong with this statement I don’t even know where to begin.  I am so mad right now I can hardly type.  Failure to report does not equal consent.  Not even close.  It is attitudes like this that keep survivors from reporting.  The article mentions a quote from Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale,  “In a rape case it is the victim, not the defendant, who is on trial.”  The above comment proves his point perfectly.  It becomes more important to define rape and prove that there was a reason for it than supporting the survivor.

No one is responsible for the rape but the rapist.  It is the rapist who decides to rape.  It has nothing to do with the clothes, behavior, or attitude of the survivor/victim.  It does not matter if she was drunk.  It does not matter if she was high.  It does not matter if she went on a blind date.  It does not matter if they were married.  And it does not matter if she doesn’t report it.  Rape is rape.  The only person responsible for someones actions is that person.  I don’t know how to say it any clearer.  Rape is about power and control.  It is not about sex.  The rapist maintains that power and control by making the survivor afraid to report it.  This doesn’t have to be done overtly.  The rapists power over the survivor is aided by the silence and disbelief of other people.  Did you catch that?  By shaming a survivor or blaming her for what happened to her you are taking the side of the rapist.  You are helping the rapist keep the survivor down.  You are helping him to disempower her.  You are helping him to take away her voice.  You are aiding the rapist.

“Please Make it Stop:” Journalist Assaulted in Egypt

**Trigger Warning**

Lady reporters face a different kind of risk across the globe, especially in countries with political unrest.  Countries where rape is used as a weapon.  When we think about rape being used as a weapon one of the first places that comes to mind is the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Here it is a weapon of war.  But what about other countries, where there is no war, just unrest and a restlessness, or even jubilation from a president being freely elected for the first time?  Natasha Smith, a student reporter from the UK, was in Egypt covering the story.  She had male body guards with her and was caught up in the moment of excitement.  Just when she decided to leave “in a split second, everything changed.”  She found herself being drug away by an large angry mob of men.  They stole her equipment, ripped off her clothes, and tore her away from her friends.  It is only due to the kindness of a few strangers that she survived.

Read her interview with CNN.

She later recounts the experience on her blog.  She remembers thinking “please God. Please make it stop. Please God. Please make it stop.”  And yet after this terrifying experience that no one should ever had people are criticizing her.  If you do choose to read her story on her blog I gently warn you about the comments section.  There is a lot of support for her but there is also a lot of bigotry, Islamaphobia, hate, and victim blaming.  Why is it that when something happens that we don’t understand or don’t have an adequate explanation for we turn to hate.  I would say it is out of fear most of the time though that is absolutely no excuse.  I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, victim blaming is not okay.  A person is responsible for their own actions.  A rapist is responsible for raping, the victim, or survivor is never responsible.  They deserve support, and even if you cannot understand, they need empathy.  It will be hard enough processing through the assault without the judgmental assumptions and intolerance of the people around them.  Let a survivor heal, on their own terms, and in their own way.  Support and love, that is what’s needed the most.

Wrapping up SAAM

April is coming to a close and thus the month that is dedicated to Sexual Assault Awareness.  What should this mean?  Sexual Assaults aren’t going to stop because the month of April is over.  People are still going to take advantage of the power they have over others.  There are still the oppressed and the oppressors.  That has not changed.  A month of awareness isn’t what is going to fix the issue.  Don’t get me wrong bringing to light things that are hard to face and ugly is good.  We need to recognize that this is a problem.  Something cannot be done if people don’t know about it.  But it is more than a one month issue.  And lucky for us there are people out there who are dedicating their lives to not only bringing awareness, and stopping sexual assault, but to help survivors heal.

“Sexual Assault Awareness Month indeed affords us a unique opportunity to shine a light on the violence that many women and girls face. But, I call on both women and men to do more. We all know that sexual assault is a year-long, 365 day-a-year issue. If we want to truly end this violence, we need year-long attention and action to keep women and girls safe, and to make sure those who commit or encourage sexual assault are held accountable.”

A 365 Day-a-Year Problem

” We must stand with those who have the ability to use their voice to speak out on this issue and with those who remain silenced. You never know who is keeping quiet.”

Breaking the Silence: Why Men and Women Must Stand Together on Sexual Assault

The Shock Value in Advertising

**Trigger Warning**

A new campaign by a British organization called This is Abuse attempts to tackle issues of abuse, rape, and assault in relationships.  The website offers a variety of resources including, myths about rape, how to know if you’re being abused, how to know if you are abusive, and how to get help.  It really is a well done campaign.

The thing that has attracted the most attention though is their ads.  I even heard a morning talk show talking about the campaign ads while I was at work.  The show was discussing how far is too far and if these particular ads cross the line.  Below is the first ad I saw titled “If You Could See Yourself.”  The idea is that if you were an outsider and could see yourself would you call it rape.  It focuses on the fact that the majority of people who are raped are done so by a trusted friend, family member, co-worker etc., not by a stranger.  Please be aware that the video may be triggering and it is difficult to watch.

The first time I saw this ad I couldn’t help but cringe.  It stirred up terrible emotions inside of me.  But then I remember thinking how powerful it could be.  Not everyone who rapes another person would later regret it or recognize their actions as rape.  But bringing awareness to the fact that pressuring someone into sex that doesn’t want it is not consensual and therefore is rape.  It is not always recognized that way.  The word rape is scary and something that happens to other people.  People do not always think about the fact that rape can happen in loving relationships.  It can happen in a committed relationship where two people are dating.  It can happen in a marriage.  That is why I think these ads are a good thing.

The morning show I saw was talking about using the “shock value” in advertising.  They were saying that this particular ad bordered on going too far and just wanted to shock people to get them to watch it.  While it is true that we are becoming desensitized to violence and it takes more and more to shock us, I do not agree that this is the case with these ads.  Rape and sexual assault are shocking and rightly so.  The fact that it happens at all should shock people.  If we become complacent about this we lose an important piece of our humanity.  Sure, maybe little children should not be allowed to watch it but teenagers who are just starting to date need to know that pushing someone beyond what they are comfortable with is not okay.  Of course, it is not only teenagers but it is a place to start.  I almost think that something like this would be good to show in schools as part of the sex education curriculum.  Granted I do not have children so I do not know if I would feel differently if I did.  Those of you that do have kids what are your thoughts?  Is this ad too shocking and did they go too far?

Here is the second ad that deals with abusive relationships.

This is Abuse

Denim Day: Jeans with Purpose

I ran across an article today that talked about “Denim Day.”  Having never heard of it I decided to do some research.  Turns out Denim Day is a way to show support for victims of rape and sexual assault, bring awareness to the issue, and stop victim blaming.

The inspiration for this day of awareness comes from a crime that happened in Italy in the 1990s.  A teenage girl is starting her very first driving lesson.  She is picked up by her older, male instructor.  He takes her out to an isolated area and rapes her.  He then makes her drive home and swear not to tell anyone.  Later that night she tells her parents.  They help her to press charges and the instructor is convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.

He appeals and it makes it all the way to the Italian Supreme Court.  There the case is overturned and dismissed.  The judge’s reasoning is that, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

Women in the Italian parliament were outraged and almost immediately, within hours, protested by wearing jeans to work.  From there the movement spread.

This is an amazing example of how people can be motivated to band together after an incredible injustice.  People recognized how wrong it was to blame the victim.  Unfortunately there are people who would have agreed with the statement made by the Chief Justice.  Those people are still around today.  They are the ones who say the survivor was raped because she had a plunging neckline, or her clothes were too tight, or she looked “loose,” or wiggled her hips too much when she walked, or because she was alone on a dark street, or she didn’t struggle enough, or scream loud enough, or didn’t tell anyone right away, or any other number of reasons.  The victim blaming has to stop and I love the idea of wearing jeans to do it.

Turns out the next Denim Day is April 25th, this upcoming Wednesday.  I for one plan on participating (though I almost always wear jeans, so I’ll have to be creative).  I would love to hear from you about what you think of this awareness tactic, and if you participate what the experience is like for you.

The following website is done by Peace Over Violence and contains a lot more information.  I encourage you to check it out.