Let’s Talk

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. 

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10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk

  1. yaronzeevik says:

    I think that the key is to make the assaulted woman to feel that its ok to tall..that we support her in the end of the day..if she will get that notion that her surroundings is supportive it will be easier for sex assaulted women to talk

  2. Darcy says:

    97% will never spend a day in jail…that makes me physically ill. 😦
    I am SO glad you are writing about this. It needs to be said. Saying that it’s the woman’s fault because she wore a low-cut top is like a burglar arguing in court that the store he broke into had a tantalizing display so he’s not at fault. It’s just stupid. And yet so many rapists are let off the hook with lame-ass arguments just like it. Keep writing, and I will keep cheering you on!!!

  3. People will always judge. Well, some at least. Very powerful post. I am glad you are putting the rape subject out in the open. Let’s talk about it.

  4. thebudapestsider says:

    This is great! Thank you for sharing this with us. And yes, we have to talk about it otherwise we won’t make a change. The reason these things are so easily swept under the rug is because people don’t like to talk that much about it either, including the victims (and for good reason in the case of the victim.) I am sorry to hear what happened to you, but I would like to honestly congratulate you for having to courage to talk about it.

  5. iolandeb says:

    The more we talk, the better. Rape needs to be reported and rapists need to be punished!

  6. iolandeb says:

    Reblogged this on iolandebaker and commented:
    So true…

  7. I love that you accept the truth of our ugly world. Its nasty, and the truth is beautiful. Open the eyes of out hearts.

  8. Aussa Lorens says:

    I’ve been where you are, and yes– it took me months to even acknowledge what had happened to myself. It was another two years before I told my best friend… though I’d been writing about it and I told a shit ton of strangers while I was backpacking in Asia.

    Everyone wants to ask what the woman was doing wrong or what we need to teach women or how to restrict their behavior so this doesn’t happen but can we just take a moment and realize that a huge chunk of the boys we’re raising grow up to be rapists? Why doesn’t anyone seemed bothered by that– why isn’t there a greater emphasis on doing something about that. I’d like to see a guidebook for parents “How To Not Raise A Rapist.” That idea is free for the taking, if anyone would like it.

  9. changkathy says:

    Love this post. People will get judged no matter what they wear. Even if girls were to walk around in turtlenecks and baggy jeans, people will still talk. “Oh my god, why is she wearing that tacky sweater? Did I wake up in the 1960’s?” So glad you’re talking about rape out in the open too.

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