NPR recently reported that 1 in 16 women say that their first sexual experience was rape.
Here is the link to that report.
Think about that for a moment. Think about what that entails and why it is important for all of us to know.
As a woman who has experienced sexual harassment and abuse, as well as having been drugged by a stranger – three times– I am saddened to realize that soooooo many women have had similar experiences to I and that we are now in a place where, even though it is despicable and unacceptable, it is STILL happening.
Yes, I am lumping harassment in with rape.
I hope I don’t have to explain why and how they are connected. And if I do, chances are you are a man who has never experienced harassment or who has physically feared the opposite sex. If you ever wonder what verbal sexual harassment is, at a base level, I have a little test for you. The next time you want to say something sexual or perhaps inappropriate to a woman, give yourself this test – if you wouldn’t say it in front of her husband, boyfriend, significant other, father, 6’8” brother or grandma – DON’T SAY IT. Pretty simple barometer for the language and content of what you are thinking.
If saying the shit you want to say to someone makes them feel incredibly uncomfortable or fearful, you have crossed a line.
I recently asked on Facebook if it was ever appropriate for a man or woman, who is not the husband, boyfriend, SO, wife, etc…, to place their hand on the small of someone’s back. Most comments were, “no, absolutely not.” Those who said they didn’t have a problem with it? A man at their church, in authority, had done it. Or they were men who thought it was NO BIG DEAL.
Sorry – that spot is reserved for my husband, the person who is in love with me. Maybe that’s just me – but this happened to me several times when I was an active churchgoer, incidentally by men who held positions of authority at that church.
I suppose there are exceptions: male friends (who are good friends) who have steered me out of the way of a bad driver while in a crosswalk or parking lot, or assisted me through a door to keep me from getting hit by the door, or who have leaned in to speak to me in a crowded and loud area. They get a pass – why? Because they know me and they are good friends.
Look, guys – if you have to think about whether or not it’s appropriate, it’s not.
Back to the NPR report…
1 in 16 women says their first sexual experience was rape.
You may not want to know it or believe it. This truth is painful to absorb. It should surprise and disgust you. If you have women in your life – a mom, sister, mother-in-law, aunt, sister-in-law, best friend’s sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece, best friend, daughter’s best friend, son’s girlfriend… one of them has been raped.
Hell, some of them have been raped.
They may not have reported it or told you. You don’t know anything about it, but it’s happened. I promise you it’s happened.
This is not acceptable.
When will the shame of what someone does to an innocent person fall on the person who commits the crime?
In the last 12 hours, I’ve heard of two more prominent men, one a pro ball player – the other a politician, arrested in relation to child pornography and soliciting sex with a minor. While these men are despicable & deplorable, someone allowed (a parent or guardian) those pictures and videos to be taken of children. Someone took those pics/videos. Someone set up the shoot. Someone was on set when it was happening. Or someone did it in secret. Someone distributed it in hard copy or soft, online or not.
It isn’t just those who indulge who are disgusting or deplorable.
I urge you
Report when you have been harassed, drugged, or raped.
Support someone that you know who has been harassed, drugged, or raped.
Do not ask what they were wearing.
Do not ask if they were alone.
Do not ask if they had been drinking.
Do not ask if they were careful or if they had been too friendly.
Do not condemn or ask why they were where they were.
Say you are sorry this happened to them. Comfort them. Ask how you can help.
The SHAME is not on the victim.
The victim is your mother, sister, or daughter. The victim is your granddaughter or niece. The victim is your best friend.
Imagine that girls and women you knoware not telling anyone what they have been through or worse… They have told / reported itand then, they were questioned and shamed.
The victim deserves no shame. NONE.
I am a victim. And I have spoken out – I finally filed a report about being drugged, and nothing was done. The police sergeant simply said, “At least you weren’t raped.”
My own mother said that.
But, what about the other girls – what about the other women who were raped by that same man, the one who drugged me?
Stop shaming the victim.
*The definition of rape is a sexual encounter that is unwanted or nonconsensual. Here is a link to the United States Department of Justice definition of rape…if you need it.