Sexual Assault: Let’s talk about consent and your body.
The “Me Too,” Movements and Sexual Assault.
The truth is there are a lot of people who have gone through sexual assault and experienced abuse in their life. But because it has been such a “taboo,” subject to approach, they suffered in silence. The good news is that has been coming to an end with the “Me Too,” movements.
The Me Too movement has allowed people to speak up, those who never had a chance. It’s vital that those who claim abuse are telling the truth, otherwise, they make those that have suffered look like liars and they end up causing more harm. This brings me to the most important point, knowing what consent means.
Consent isn’t a label for women because men also experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, in fact, it’s been reported by RAINN that every 2-minutes a man is assaulted.
“On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.”
Whether we want to admit it or not, culture has made it hard for men to speak up about their sexual assault. And if you’re reading this, know you are not pathetic, we are all equal and we all experience pain and emotions.
As for women, according to RAINN, it’s quite high.
“Millions of women in the United States have experienced rape.
As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape.5
Young women are especially at risk.
82% of all juvenile victims are female. 90% of adult rape victims are female.6
Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.3
Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely.”
I mean, the only way to lower that statistics is to start talking and understanding what is okay and what is not okay when you are in a relationship or dating.
There is a way to stop this and it starts with consent. Today we are constantly looking to stay active as parents, caregivers, educators, and health professionals. It’s vital to understand what consent is and how to deliver that message to those in the world.
The DoJ defines sexual assault as:
“Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
According to the Oxford Dictionary,
Stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt. ‘the arrangement had not been made explicit’
According to the CDC:
Sexual violence (SV) is a significant problem in the United States. SV refers to sexual activity when consent is not obtained or not given freely. Anyone can experience SV, but most victims are female. The person responsible for the violence is typically male and usually someone known to the victim. The person can be, but is not limited to, a friend, coworker, neighbor, or family member.”
But laws vary widely Sate-to-State.
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent, and some of those are discussed below. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries.
How does consent work in real life?
When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.
You can change your mind at any time.
You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and wish to stop. The best way to ensure both parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it.
Positive consent can look like this:
- Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
- Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
- Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level
- It does NOT look like this:
- Refusing to acknowledge “no”†
- Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
- Someone is under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state
- Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
- Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
- Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past
- No can be verbal or nonverbal, and often doesn’t include the word “no”, but rather consists of softened rejections like “Hey let’s just chill,” “Let’s just watch the show,” “Let’s just go to sleep,” “Not tonight,” “Maybe later,” “I’d like to, but…” etc.
- If you’re still confused about consent, here are some more educational resources:
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, know that you are not alone. Most victims know their aggressor, and most aggressors are repeat offenders. Even for acts of nonconsensual fondling without penetration or exchange of bodily fluid, you can go to the ER and get a rape kit that can identify your perpetrator. The kit will keep for years if you are not immediately sure whether you want to report. You can also call RAINN for resources in your area. In some areas, there are volunteers who will accompany you to the hospital and police station to be your advocates.
secret financial escape plan for domestic violence victims.
If you’re a domestic violence victim, you may still be living with your abuser for a simple reason: money.
It’s common for abusers to keep victims in the dark about household finances and to limit access to bank accounts, victims’ advocates say. Your abuser may force you to stay on a strict budget and account for every penny you spend. If you work, the abuser may make you turn over your paycheck immediately.
“Abusers use finances as way to gain and maintain power and control over their partner,” says Amanda Stylianou, associate vice president of quality and program development at Safe Horizon, a domestic violence victims’ advocacy agency. “We even see situations where the abuser may be doing things to purposely hurt the victim’s credit, like opening credit cards in her name and running them up.”
Remember, abusers will use any excuse to attempt to keep their victim trapped, in fact, they will say anything you want to hear.
What should I know and teach others?
- You have a right to your body, you have a right to voice how you feel about any situation. And the only person that should be in the “no-no area,” is the child while he/she uses the restroom.
- Regardless of age, they have a choice.
- Teach them what consent means, most importantly giving it, asking for it and withdrawing consent (if you have teenagers).
- Right off ‘No Means No!’ It does not mean ‘maybe’ or ‘I’m not sure’
- All genders are equal
- Teach your children that there are going to be gender stereotypes and they are out-dated. They should always be challenged because we should not fear who we are as individuals.
- Respect is earned. And it’s absolutely important when you are in any relationship. If you do not feel safe with a person or want to “progress,” the relationship as fast as your partner, you are allowed to voice that because you own your body. Remember, trust is earned and love is patient.
- Teach your children to have empathy and love for those have been through hard times.
- Please, just teach your children to be kind as we all bleed the same blood. Suicide is also on the rise.
- It doesn’t matter how old your child is teaching them to stand up for what they feel is right, they can use terms like ‘Hey! That’s not right!’ and then voice their opinion in a respectful tone. This can be very helpful with communication as well.
The beginning of change starts with you, from that point we pass on our knowledge onto those we love and care for, those on the internet and so on, never stop trying to make a difference.