Somehow, I had forgotten. I forgot that I am supposed to apologize for my body. My fat is a reason for ridicule. My short skirt is a reason for cat calls. My femininity is a reason for my rape. I forgot because it hadn’t happened in a while. I guess my skirt hadn’t been short enough. Someone hadn’t been drunk enough. I hadn’t been unlucky enough.
#2 SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT:
It is often believed that sexy or suggestive clothing invites wanted male attention, positive or negative. Regardless, wearing revealing clothing does not invite sexual assault. In fact, women and girls have been raped in everything from jeans to business suits to pajamas. This belief reinforces the myth that women and girls invite assault by their clothing choices and shifts the blame for the crime to the victim and away from the perpetrator, where it belongs.
Last month, the ACLU’s Louise Melling blogged about how street harassment shames and humiliates women, and is underreported because of the stigma attached to it. While that blog was making the editing rounds here at the office, I shared my own story of how I dealt with a particularly obnoxious harasser, and my esteemed colleagues suggested I share it. Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, after all, here it is. And there’s gonna be swearing. I’m really sorry in advance (Mom).
In 2006 I was sexually assaulted. I never expected to blog about it.
One evening in DC, a stranger grabbed me as I walked from the metro stop to my apartment after work. I wish I could say I screamed or fought back, but I was too horrified. Instead I could only stare in disbelief at the jackass holding me down. This can’t be happening. In a desperate scramble I somehow managed to break away before it escalated to rape and ran inside my building. He winked and blew a kiss from behind the glass door, as if to say ‘oh well, next time‘. I was the third women in the neighborhood to report a similar story to police in two weeks–also the luckiest. The experience forever shattered a false sense of security, knowing that to monsters like this man, I’m nothing more than conquest, having no identity beyond what I can potentially provide for them. The reward isn’t about sex–but subjugation and power. And I will not be a silent witness to rape.
CBS correspondent Lara Logan is speaking out for the first time since her brutal sexual assault in Egypt.
Logan was attacked by a mob near Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Feb. 11, the day that President Hosni Mubarak was finally driven from power.
TRIGGER WARNING Rape, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault, Abuse
Rape is only four letters, one small syllable, and yet it is one of the hardest words to coax from your lips when you need it most.
Entering our teenage years in the sex saturated ’90s, my friends and I knew tons about rape. We knew to always be aware while walking, to hold your keys out as a possible weapon against an attack. We knew that we shouldn’t walk alone at night, and if we absolutely had to, we were to avoid shortcuts, dark paths, or alleyways. We even learned ways to combat date rape, even though none of us were old enough to have friends that drove, or to be invited to parties with alcohol. We memorized the mantras, chanting them like a yogic sutra, crafting our words into a protective charm with which to ward off potential rapists: do not walk alone at night. Put a napkin over your drink at parties. Don’t get into cars with strange men. If someone tries to abduct you, scream loudly and try to attack them because a rapist tries to pick women who are easy targets.
Yes, we learned a lot about rape.
What we were not prepared for was everything else. Rape was something we could identify, an act with a strict definition and two distinct scenarios. Not rape was something else entirely.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. During this time, and all year, our attitudes toward sexual assault as a community are measured not by the compassionate or irate words of single individuals. They are measured by the respect we as a community extend and the services we provide to victims, potential victims, and their loved ones.
Our respect is measured by our understanding that no individuals regardless of age, gender, race, religion, regardless of manner of dress, past actions, marital status, level of intoxication, sexual experience or any other factor deserves or encourages sexual assault. Our understanding that all individuals can be victims. Victims created not by the circumstances of their own actions, but the criminal acts of individuals seeking power and control by inflicting violence and pain upon others.
This understanding is what allows us to rise above our society’s attitude of victim blame, and beyond long years of silent and ashamed survivors who believed that theirs was a burden to be carried alone. As a community we must life these individuals out of the darkness and support them as they step into the light of healing and hope for a brighter future.
As a community we must pledge to create a world free of sexual violence and removed from the social norms that support aggression and the abuse and oppression of victims. A world that teaches better, safer, more loving interactions between individuals. A world that encourages and expects its young people to treat one another with kindness, tolerance, and respect.
Imagine a world without rape. Imagine a world without sexual assault or abuse. What kind of world would that be? A world where no one is afraid to walk through parking lots alone, of being drugged when they go to a bar. Where no one is ever forced to do something against their will because they consented to a date, or drink, or were in a relationship with their abuser. A world where rape is never a weapon, or a punch line, or something that is ever ‘asked for.’
Imagine a world where heterosexual women, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals aren’t made targets by simply existing. Where male victims do not live in fear of reporting their assaults for fear of being judged or of perceived implications about their masculinity.
Imaging a world where being a ‘man’ doesn’t have to mean violent, tough, powerful and in ‘control.’ Where emotions are respected and aggression is not. A world where people are seen not as victims or potential victims, but as whole autonomous individuals with control over their own bodies and the power to give or withdraw consent. Consent which is not only listened to but respected and granted.
This is a world that we can help to create. It will not happen overnight but will come at the end of a long and exhausting journey. It will come with coordinated and cooperative response by medical professionals, law enforcement, prosecutors, and victims’ advocates. It will come with a community wide outcry that we must support victims and hold offenders responsible. That we must find consistent and effective ways to teach our children about violence, how to prevent it, how to choose different behaviors, and have positive and loving relationships. An outcry that we must become responsible for our own treatment or others. That we must stop forcing others into molds of masculine and feminine, aggressive and submissive, violent and timid, but be a society of self assured, unique individuals, who contribute to a peaceful world.
A world where there is no rape.
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day that a stranger appeared suddenly in my life and changed the trajectory of my future. He and I are not celebrating this anniversary with a romantic dinner, a getaway weekend, or love-making. He and I do not even know each other. He probably doesn’t commemorate the first and last time we met like I do. I’m sure he has not lost sleep over thinking about me, is not haunted by my memory – I may even just have been one of many for him, but I will never know.
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day that a stranger raped me.
Women in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than killed by enemy fire. I know what you’re thinking – it sounds too unbelievable to be true. But it’s not.