I was sitting on my couch, watching him sleep, sleep oh so peacefully, in my bed. It couldn’t have been rape, I thought, no one rapes someone and then sleeps over. I’d been waiting for the sun to come up, my computer on my lap, searching the internet for the closest Planned Parenthood. The air in my studio apartment felt thick and soggy. I don’t remember the weather, the season, only that I felt bone cold and at the same time like my skin was made of fire and would burn anyone who tried to touch it. He hadn’t used a condom, hadn’t listened when I’d said I didn’t want to have sex. I was confused by the slow and metered breaths moving in an out of my mouth; I felt calm, pragmatic even. I needed a morning after pill, I needed to get information about being tested for STDs. If it had been rape, I wouldn’t be making lists, I’d be a wreck, I thought. Continue reading It’s Never Too Late to Share A Story of Sexual Assault
In the two weeks since news broke about allegations against media mogul Harvey Weinstein, more than 40 women have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault. Like any time a high-profile sexual violence case comes to light — Bill Cosby, Brock Turner, R. Kelly — the conversation about sexual assault lasts for weeks, many times with survivors bearing the burden of the discussion.
So is the case with the viral #MeToo hashtag — based on a grassroots campaign started by activist Tarana Burke. It went viral after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that people who had been abused or assaulted should post “Me too” in their status. The campaign caught like wildfire, with CNN reporting that Twitter has seen more than 1 million uses of the hashtag and many more on Facebook, creating an outpouring of assault stories for public consumption. Continue reading 7 Self-Care Tips for Sexual Assault Survivors
She was asking for it.
Boys will be boys.
What was she expecting dressed like that?
I’d bet you already guessed the topic these often-repeated phrases refer to — sexual violence.
Story after story on sexual assault, incest, rape, and abuse are written by survivors, explaining their situation ad nauseam to men and not letting them off the hook with “boys will be boys.” That, no, an unconscious drunk woman was not “asking for it,” and she was certainly not capable of giving consent to a sexual encounter. That wearing a revealing outfit also does not mean a woman was “looking for attention.” That “20 minutes of action” indeed merits steep criminal charges because a survivor’s life is invariably and monumentally altered by sexual violence — often for a lifetime.
It can take years for some sexual assault survivors to even acknowledge their experience. Now, putting yourself in their shoes, imagine how difficult it must be to make yourself vulnerable enough to share your experience with another person.
Experiencing sexual assault is one of the most difficult things to live through for anyone. It’s estimated that 1.7% of men and 19.3% of women have been raped in their lifetimes, and these statistics are only based on cases that have been reported. Researchers believe the actual numbers are much higher. In the event that you know someone who has experienced sexual assault, here are some suggestions on how to best support him or her.
Sexual assault can shatter a person’s world into a million pieces – therapy can help put them back together.
There are many different types of sexual assault, which may or may not include physical contact. One of the most important but difficult things victims have to comprehend is that they cannot hold themselves accountable for the vile actions of other people. Just ask any therapist. Continue reading Coping With Sexual Assault or Picking Up the Pieces