I will start this off with a content, and trigger warning: *sexual assault, abuse, trauma, addiction, suicide, self harm.*
Also, I would like to mention the “triggered” memes that have popped up on the internet. Trigger warnings are used for PTSD, abuse and trauma victims, ED, self harm, addiction, and so on — and without them, said survivors are likely to go into panic. Which can lead to stroke due to certain conditions, and even death in very serious cases for numerous reasons. It’s not funny, and you do not deserve applause for making a joke out of a resource for those who genuinely have seen horrors in their life.
Please be respectful.
Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted.
On average there are 321,500 victims of rape/sexual assault.
It’s safe to assume that number is astronomically higher than said statistic, as we have both women and men who are embarrassed, scared, and suffering from assaults who will probably never come forward. For those reasons alone, it’s quite a somber reality for millions.
So, I figured that because today starts sexual assault awareness month, I would share and talk on the topic. This is going to be pretty personal, but I am sharing this because I know these events have shaped me into the very active advocate against rape culture I am today. Because without exposure, without knowledge, and without experience, how will we ever address very serious issues such as these?
If it weren’t for these events I would not be who I am today.
If my 14 year old self saw who I am today, she would not really understand. That’s why exposure, and getting involved is important.
While I have opened up on one of my social media accounts about this maybe a year or so ago on another blog I had created, but ended up retracting. Later on, a hashtag arose on twitter that I participated in, along with a handful of my friends. This was striking for some, but a sad truth. As it takes a significant amount of courage to come forward and address your assaults.
When I was a child I was assaulted by two twin boys. This went on for a very long time, but I never told my parents because I was afraid and quite frankly I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. I just know that it made me uncomfortable, scared, and sick. When I finally opened up with them about it, I was immediately flushed through rooms full of cameras, and people with clipboards. I never really understood the severity, or how it would impact my life until later.
We returned to live in Moab from Saint George shortly after.
Then as I grew older, a boy in middle school. When I confided this information into my teacher who I had a close bond with, I was immediately ridiculed by the attacker and his friends. He was only suspended for a week. He further guilt tripped me for the remaining middle school years. On top of this, I was bullied to the point my parents had to take me out of school. This is where my innocence was met with fear, and undoubted terror.
Carrying on, I was then assaulted again in high school by one of my best friends who I would drink with. He had confessed his feelings for me, but I loved him as a friend. I blew the first time off as a drunken mistake, but shortly after realizing the temper and persistence behind it, I was afraid.
The same night this happened, he did it to my friend when we visited him in Durango. I feel that if I had addressed these attacks when they first happened,
On top of this, I was dealing with a shit show of events. I was in a very abusive relationship that was both physical and mental. It was hard for anything to feel significant enough to leave because already so many events had been invalidated or not taken seriously.
I was assaulted again a little over a year ago as well.
As time progressed, I realized it was easier to keep my mouth shut than deal with the repercussions of being attacked, victim blamed, and disrespected.
This is how most victims of abuse feel.
Because when I told my friends, they still idolized my attackers because he was a “chill” guy.
Because when I told my friends they still wanted to party with him.
Because when I told my friends, he was more important than me.
The worst part about any of this is the realization that there are very few women in my life that I know who haven’t been assaulted in one way or another.
All the while I am certain there are men in my life who have been assaulted as well, but they are significantly less likely to come out and speak on it because of societal toxic masculinity standards.
Now, this is where I want to address more statistics on rape culture.
-One in every six women will be a victim to rape.
– It was estimated in 1998 that 17.7 million women have been raped.
-82% of all juvenile victims are female.
-Women 18-24 are 3 times more likely to be subjected to sexual violence.
-In 1998 2.78 million men have experienced rape.
-The transgender community are at a higher risk for sexual violence.
-94% of women who have been sexually assaulted suffer from PTSD.
-33% of women who have been assaulted commit suicide.
-T hey are 10 times more likely to use major drugs.
The reason why I am here today is to not only share my own story, and give you a perspective of what it was like to be in situations like these, I want to be apart of something bigger. When we start addressing rape culture, the hyper sexualization of women’s bodies, toxic masculinity, and teaching our children appropriate behaviors, we can decrease those percentages.
We live in a society that teaches our women to not get raped, instead of teaching our generations to not rape.
We tell our men they can’t be assaulted, because they are so overruled by their strength and power along with sexual desires they would have to enjoy it.
We have got to stop building onto the very foundation of rape culture itself, and teach our children that clothing does not determine consent. That consent is necessary, and if that is not there, it is rape.
Now, something that was always been normalized in celebrity culture, is when we have victims of assault come forward, we shut them down and insist they are only looking for money. with that logic, we have to remember that being in the spotlight and openly speaking on traumatic violence’s are significantly more risky in those situations. you are going to be dealing with die hard fans, and the overall scrutiny of the public. you are going to be at risk for increased violence, and shame.
It takes a lot of courage to speak on sexual violence, so why do we take every step to silence victims when they come forward?
We collectively as a society beg our victims to come forward, and when they do, we disregard them? We deny their struggle? We make excuses for the attacker?
Rape culture is a vicious cycle, and today we have a president who has 13+ victims who have came forward. Our president who has admitted to assaulting a woman, and is defended by the republican party on a regular basis for claims being inaccurate because these women are only seeking money. Even though we have proof of at the very least, one assault. Not to mention how many derogatory statements he’s made about women. We could talk about his odd fascination with his daughter, and how even at a young age he sexualized her. We can talk about him knowingly walking into underaged girls changing rooms. We can even talk about how he grabbed a woman by her pussy.
But, unfortunately we will always find the Trump apologists.
We had those same women who demanded the harmless transgender community be limited to certain bathrooms, in “grab us by the pussy” shirts on national television. what do you think that looks like to our younger generations?
Because for so many of the sexual assault survivors, our attackers look so much like trump.
Our friends taking his side, our families defending them. our very own blood making excuses for those same assaults that happened to us.
We can brush these things off, but what will you do when it happens to you? Or your mother? Or your daughter?
These victims will never get to live their life in the same carefree manner as those who’ve never experienced it.
My heart goes out to all victims of sexual violence. You deserved better. We all did.