Today is apparently a high traffic day for me, with a second Freshly Pressed front page nod. Therefore, I find it only fitting that today is the day for this message.
One of the number one problems faced in the after by rape survivors is an inability to talk about it. This isn’t just an internal thing, though that’s a huge part of it. It’s also societally driven.
“Look how low cut that top is.”
“Her skirt is so short.”
“She had too much to drink.”
“She said yes once, so it’s always yes.”
“She led him on.”
“She didn’t say no.”
“It’s her fault.”
It’s not. Her fault. Your fault. My fault.
It’s just not.
There are people out there who judge people—for their clothes, for their actions, for their gender. And it drives me crazy. It’s just simply not okay to blame the victim, whether she had a drink or her skirt is short or she shows a little bit of cleavage. The choice to wear a particular item of clothing is the choice of the person wearing it, and gives no right to anyone else to take action or judgement against that person. A woman’s body is her own (just as a man’s is his own). She can do with it what she wishes. A very wise person commented on a Facebook status of mine a few weeks ago “Men can run down the street half naked and they do not have to fear judgment or worse. Women deserve the same freedom.” I agree. There’s a huge inequality between expectations held for men and those held for women. It’s not right, and it’s not fair. So many women are afraid to talk, afraid to say what happened to them, because they fear they will be judged. Or worse yet, not believed at all. It happens more often than you might think. No means no, no matter the circumstances.
There is a shame that comes with being raped. A stigma. I know it because I’ve felt it. If I wouldn’t have been in that particular place at that particular time. If I would have fought more. Harder. If I would have done something, anything, differently. Never once in the beginning did it occur to me that it was his fault. His choice. I searched for months for what it was that I did to cause this to happen to me. But it wasn’t me at all.
When I was attacked, I wasn’t wearing anything particularly low-cut. And I was wearing pants. I hadn’t had any alcohol. And it still happened. A person can be as pristine and clean and straight edge as they want to be, but bad things still happen. Rape is the decision of the rapist, and the only way to one hundred percent successfully prevent it is for the rapist to decide not to do it. Wearing turtlenecks and pants and cowering under societal stereotypes is not going to help anybody. As a matter of fact, it’s only going to keep people from talking.
I got some fresh statistics off of the RAINN website:
44% of victims are under age 18.
80% are under age 30.
Every 2 minutes, another American is sexually assaulted.
Each year, there are about 237, 868 victims of sexual assault.
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
Approximately two thirds of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
38% of rapists are a friend of an acquaintance.
This is just the surface, and just the United States. (For more, visit www.rainn.org).
Why aren’t rapes getting reported? In my opinion, it’s because we aren’t talking about it. Hell, it took me forever to talk about it myself. So maybe, what it takes is one person to light a fire. One person to share their story. Then that story gets read by another person, and inspires them to share their story. Which is read by another, and another. Sharing occurs. A network is formed. And maybe that percentage of unreported rapes drops to 59.
And, after all. Isn’t that what my memoir is all about?
It’s time to disturb some shit.
So hey, let’s talk.