Topic in light of Sexual Assault & Prevention Awareness Month
I never knew how to write this article. Even if it’s been on my mind, well, nearly my whole adult life. I felt I needed higher education, more confidence, in order to express my feelings on this issue. But the truth is, I’m a woman, and being a woman is (sadly) all I need in order to understand the severity of the sexual harassment and assault that exists within our society.
I was fourteen the first time I felt sexually violated. It was by a man approximately nine years older than me. A man I trusted, regarded as family. I never told anyone. Why? Because my teenage brain was convinced that I would be blamed for his actions. That I was the problem. That certain family members would turn against me should I make such allegations.
I’ve read article upon article of women who experienced the same guilt or shame or self-blame due to unwanted sexual attention. What did I do wrong? What did I say/do to provoke this? If I had been more/less (fill in blank) it never would have happened!
It is a very scary and sad reality. So, the first thing I want to say to any woman – or man – reading this: your body is your property, and no one has the right to trespass, regardless of how you act, what you say, do or wear. And, of course, on the flip side, you have no right trespassing on others. If anyone uses any kind of physical force/violence against you, you can get help – by doing this, you are giving permission to other frightened victims to speak up, and becoming a force that ends this kind of violence.
I’ve included below a list of steps to take if you have been sexually assaulted, or suspect you may have been sexually assaulted, (these steps are from a Cosmopolitan article, written by a former sex crime prosecutor, link provided below):
- Do not bathe or shower. I understand this may be difficult, as the first response I’ve heard from rape victims is their need to feel “clean” after the assault. As described very well by the author of this article, “your body is a crime scene, and the evidence is fragile.”
- Report the rape immediately (call 911). This may be scary, but you need to understand that the offender will most likely do it again. Even if this is encouraged,
- Understand that it isn’t too late if you wait to report it later. (The article provides a non-police reporting system online, whereby you can log the details of your assault, and then come forward with it when you feel strong enough).
I think this is an important place to note that most sexual assault offenders are serial offenders, and therefore your voice can put a stop to their continuous crimes.
- Go to the hospital and have a “rape kit” done. Once reported, the police should bring you to the hospital and request this.
- If you are a student, and the assault took place on or around campus, remember that Campus and Local Police are very different and so are their processes. It is always encouraged to tell your Local Police (for more information, read full article).
- Be strong, and surround yourself with supportive people. What happened to you was unjust and, by no means, your fault.
- Remember to take care of yourself. Get the professional help you need, and speak to your friends and family when you are strong enough to do so. Being able to talk about what happened to you can help you heal.
- Again, as this is worth repeating: THIS WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!
I recommend the full article: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a60085/reporting-sexual-assault-rape/
Topics to follow in this multi-part series:
– sex education starts at home
– the deafening statistics
– media, porn, and sexism
– what you can do
– male allies
– it doesn’t just affect women
Until next time…