Friday, April 26, 2013

Two of the Times Someone Raped Me (Part III) #saam #rape

 As someone who's experienced rape up-close and personal-like, who's talked with a lot of other rape victims survivors, and cried over the ones like Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons, who did not survive, and as someone who's done extensive research on the subject, I feel entitled to call bullshit on some of the rape myths.

Trigger Warning: Profanity. This series may be triggering to some rape victims.

The concept that any rape victims "wanted it" because they dressed provocatively or got drunk is like saying that jaywalkers wanted to be hit by a car.

Do some rape victims make poor choices that put them at greater risk of sexual assault? Yes. While I don't disagree that there are things that young women (and men) can and should do to make themselves safer, the reality is that rapists gonna rape.

Clothing (or lack thereof) doesn't make anyone rape anyone. If skimpy or provocative clothing led to uncontrollable lust, then why isn't every beach on the planet swarming with men and women pouncing on each other?

Women wearing burqas and ratty old sweatpants get raped; octogenarian grandmothers in long flannel nightgowns get raped; young boys in baseball uniforms get raped; babies of six months old get raped.

from Slutwalk LA 2010

The common factor in all rapes? Presence of one or more rapists.

While it's not the worst idea in the world to teach children, teens, and even older people how to be less vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse, what we really need to focus on as a culture is teaching men (and women) not to rape.

"No One Will Believe You" is a Lie From the Pits of Hell

Rapists and child molesters count on the old myths about rape to keep us silent. Lies like, "A man with an attractive wife or girlfriend doesn't need to rape a fat/ugly/geeky person like you."

We know now that "happily married men (and women)" do rape and molest men, women, boys and girls. Often they target someone who is especially vulnerable and insecure, perhaps because we are  less conventionally attractive, perhaps because we have a troubled home, or have just moved to the community and haven't made any friends yet.

This doesn't mean we need to be suspicious of every offer of mentoring or friendship. But it does mean that if a teacher/coach/team quarterback/whoever assaults or rapes us, we should not believe this lie they tell to save their own skin. Someone will believe us. Tell, and if the first person doesn't believe us, keep telling.

If You Don't Hear a Very Clear Yes, It Means No.

Only Yes Means Yes Campaign
Only Yes Means Yes Campaign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Part of what has muddied the waters is that too many of us have read stories, seen movies, or watched p0rn, where, “No, please, don’t, stop!” turns into, “Please don’t stop!” We need to teach teens how to say no, firmly and forcefully, and how to hear no, even in the heat of the moment.

In J.L. Campbell’s A Baker’s Dozen: 13 Steps to Distraction, a short story prequel, Kyra has been on a date with her ex. She goes with him to his hotel room to collect a present he has promised for their son, and he makes a move on her. At first, she is aroused and goes along with his seduction, but she realizes, after she is naked and he's fumbling with a condom, that she doesn’t want to have sex with him after all.

Though she pushes at him and protests, he’s still determined to pry her legs open and have sex with her, until she bursts out, “Jesus Christ, Joshua! You really goin’ to rape me?” This brings him back to his senses.

Even if you've been engaging in foreplay and you're both stark naked, no means no. Saying yes to flirting, to kissing, even getting naked together, does not mean that the other person is "entitled" to have sex with you.

Consent for sexual contact cannot legally be given if an individual is under the age of 18, is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drugs, is unconscious or asleep, or has limited mental capacity. Consent is a clear yes, not the absence of no.
Understanding Consent
Consent is positive cooperation involving an act of free will, absent of coercion, intimidation, force or the threat of force. A person cannot give consent if he or she is unable to understand what is going on.

There must always be active consent on both sides. Consent to one thing does not imply consent to another. If limits are made clear and consent is not given, pressuring someone into changing his or her mind is not consent.
  • Consent is based on choice.
  • Consent is active, not passive. Silence and passivity do not equal consent.
  • Consent is possible only when there is equal power.
  • Giving in because of fear is not consent.
  • Giving in or going along with someone to gain approval or to avoid being hurt is not consent.
  • Consent means two people (or more) deciding together to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way, with each other.

Saying Yes Once Does Not Mean Lifetime Access

Not to a vagina, not to an anus, not to a mouth. That permission is even time-stamped. Just because you said yes to someone, or tried a particular sex act, does not mean your partner now has lifetime or even one hour later access to the same (or another) orifice, without your renewed permission.

Thinking that no partner will want you because you've been raped is like thinking that no merchant will want your money after you’ve been mugged.

I can testify, from my own experience, and that of many other rape survivors I've known personally, being raped doesn't make us "damaged goods," or any less desirable in the eyes of most partners.

Of the very, very few who could never cope with the idea that their partner was once raped, trust me, these losers are not worth having. These are the same jealous, obsessive freaks who would go ballistic if you smiled at somebody "the wrong way" or left the light on when leaving a room, coming right back. We don't want them.

Not that your worth or my worth or anybody's worth is dependent upon whether or not somebody wants us in a sexual way.

Rape Doesn't (Have To) Ruin Your Life

One of the lies that piss me off more than almost anything is the frequent comment I hear and see posted about Jane Doe from Steubenville and other rape victims recently in the media,"Those boys should be locked up forever, because they ruined her life!"

I know these people mean well, but that's a lie. Unless our rapist actually murders us, our lives are not ruined. It's that kind of remark that the more vulnerable victims and victims-to-be hear and accept as an unshakable truth. The internal belief that after a rape you are ruined forever is a big factor for  those who take their own lives, so I wish the people who say mindless stuff like that would STFU.

Our lives after rape change, absolutely. Rape is a horrible violation of our persons, and impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It may take a long time to recover from rape, especially in cases where the rape was accompanied by other physical damage like internal organ damage, broken bones, or long-term consequences, such as an STI or pregnancy.

It may take time, counseling, support, and much self-love to heal and recover after a rape, but it is always possible. If we buy into the lie that rape "ruins our lives" it's like we're letting him/them mind-rape us forever.

No limp-dicked, cowardly rapist deserves so much power.

The best revenge, after being raped, is to go on to have a happy, healthy, successful life.

Talk of the Town Today, Forgotten Tomorrow

I wish I could have talked to and hugged Rethaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott and all the other rape and molestation victims who felt such despair that they took their own lives.  Mostly, it seems, from the humiliation that "everyone knew about it" and the bullying that followed. As a teenager, I remember thinking that feelings of despair and rejection would never, ever end, and that I would be an outcast forever.

That's simply not true.

Three points: 
  1. High school doesn't last forever (it only seems like it does).  However popular or unpopular we  are in high school has almost nothing to do with how successful we will be later in life: at making friends; succeeding in business; finding a spouse... From Lady Gaga to Bill Gates,  seems like it's the nerdy outcast types who really shine later in life.
  2. The truth can be hard to swallow. I wouldn't want to believe that my boyfriend/best friend/brother, the high school quarterback, is a rapist, would you? Of the two choices: either that someone must be mistaken or making it up, or that this person we are close to could commit such a horrific crime, we'd rather believe someone is mistaken or making it up. Over time, many people who initially didn't want to believe the victim, do come to see that we are telling the truth, and will be on our side.
  3. People want to feel safe. If they can come up with a reason we were raped: that we "asked for it," that it only happened because we were crazy drunk, or that we are lying, then they can feel less afraid that rape could happen to them, because they can avoid doing that thing. The idea that anyone, anywhere, is vulnerable to being the victim of a vicious attack is pretty terrifying. Sometimes when people "turn" on us, it's because we embody an idea or concept that they can't handle. If we could be raped, so could they.

My message to the teen rape victims out there: if you are afraid to talk to your parents, either because you think they will blame you, not understand, or because you don't want to hurt them, please, go talk to somebody. An aunt, a friend's mother, a counselor at school, a minister, priest or rabbi.

If you don't know anybody you feel you can trust, or even if you do, call  1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or go to RAINN.

Even if it feels like your whole school is against you, other people have felt that, too, and this too shall pass.   {{{{hugs}}}}

I've been raped (and raped more than once, lucky me!) and I am still happy, healthy, successful, loved, and a sexual person. You can be, too.

To read Part I, go here.
To read Part II, go here.

What lies & myths about rape have hurt you or someone you love?
Your thoughts?

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