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"I Hugged My Rapist," Ashley Evans, Peer Advocate

I Hugged My Rapist


What I thought would be a normal day, was no normal day. The details of what happened before this moment are incredibly fuzzy, because it paled in comparison to that moment. I was coming back from a day of shopping and needed to buy some food for the house, so I drove to the supermarket on the way home and while waiting for lunch meat, I turned around and was face to face with a face I hadn’t seen in over a year and a half.


This was a man who went to my high school, I believed to be my best friend, who supported me throughout high school, who let me cry on his shoulder, who I watched White Chicks with repeatedly, who picked me up when i was feeling down, who I thought was a genuinely good guy, who gave me the nickname I now dislike because of what he put me through. We were close. He was Elmo and I was Cookie and we were Sesame Street. Only not so much later.


During the summer after we graduated, we constantly hung out and we were legitimately friends. We visited each others houses and went places together, jokingly trying to get dates for the other person. One day, he kissed and I thought nothing of it. I denied him then. But a couple of weeks later, that kiss was still on my mind and we had sex. Safe, consensual sex. After this, I went to college and thought nothing of it. There is nothing wrong with a female having an active sex drive.


When I returned home for Thanksgiving break and he wanted to hang out, I thought nothing of it; we were still friends and I assumed he just wanted to see me since he hadn’t seen me in around three months. Made sense, right? Wrong.


When he visited that day, something was off, and I was already in an incredibly vulnerable place. My fall semester wasn’t going well. I had broken up with my partner. I attended my first “Take Back the Night” event which triggered me senseless and brought up things I hadn’t realised was sexual abuse, etc. I was crying and he wanted me to “feel better.” I ended up feeling worse.


My brother was in the next room and he might have saved me, but I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t feel anything but numb. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. or at least not by him. I just remember repeating the word “stop.” When we finished (as if I had a choice in the matter), I just laid there comatose on the floor, tears leaking out of my eyes, but not making a sound. He offered to leave and I nodded. When we reached the door, he apologized and tried to give me a hug. I shook my head. He’d left scratches on my ribs and I was already in enough pain elsewhere.


I didn’t report, but I wish I had. I didn’t tell anyone at home, but I wish I had. I felt as though I deserved it, even though I didn’t. I felt as though since we had sex for the first time that he felt he had the rights to my body. When I went back to school (perks of going out of state), that’s when I shut down and eventually ended up telling my mentor what happened. She hugged me, I flinched, and she got the truth out of me. Upon telling her, I felt a little bit better, especially with hearing her story of her mother’s abuse and this is what I realized:


  1. Rape by someone you know (aka acquaintance rape) is more common than you think.

  2. I was not alone.

  3. Talking helps. Being silent isn’t helping anyone except for your rapist.

  4. Just because you have sex with someone once, it doesn’t mean that you have to continually have sex with that person. Your body is just that: yours. no one should ever control it except you.


Fast forward to eighteen months later, after healing, chanting, and re-finding myself both in life, and in my work, I see him at the supermarket. My heart dropped into my intestines. I didn’t know what to do. I just stared at him for a few seconds as if in disbelief. How dare he work where I shop? That’s unrealistic though. I knew I just wanted an excuse to be angry. So, I calmed down, took a few deep breaths, approached him, and gave him a hug. We chatted for a bit and I left.


I hugged my rapist. I forgave my rapist. Time healed my wounds and so does the pain of performing and talking about it.Let me know if you have any questions.  

 

"Blurred Lines," by Sarah Lock, Public Representative

It’s been over a week since MTV held it’s 2013 Video Music Awards. Even if you didn’t tune in, you’ve definitely heard about Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s scandalous duo by now. Long story short, it was embarrassing for both parties. Yet in the midst of all this Miley/Robin VMA performance aftermath, I feel inclined to take the time to discuss Thicke’s equally-problematic half of the show, his song “Blurred Lines” all on it’s own. Let’s take a look at the lyrical content of the song’s chorus:

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl

I know you want it (3x)

You’re a good girl

Can’t let it get past me

You’re far from plastic

Talk about getting blasted

I hate these blurred lines

I know you want it (3x)

But you’re a good girl

The way you grab me

Must wanna get nasty

Go ahead, get at me

I didn’t actually find out what the song was about until just a few days ago. Not being a huge radio music fan, I had little interest in the song or it’s meaning, even after I had heard it a few times. And I’ve been hearing it everywhere: the supermarket, the thrift store, the mall, etc. I will admit the tune is catchy, but doesn’t that make it even more sinister? It’s so easy to ignore the meaning when it’s masked by a well-produced beat. 

For those who are unaware, the title of the song itself, “Blurred Lines”, literally refers to the blurred lines between a “yes” and a “no” regarding sex. Thicke declares that he’s looking for a “good girl”. From what I assume, he’s probably referring to a woman who is virginal (yet flirty), innocent (yet sexy), and will have sex with him whenever he wants it. He insists that the girl in question “wants it” too, regardless of whether or not she has an actual say in the situation. If you’ve watched the video, with it’s smiling, silent women, you can probably assume that she doesn’t. 

But there is more to “Blurred Lines”  than it’s highly problematic lyrics. The song reached such popularity with the help of it’s two different videos, the original R-rated edition and it’s slightly less racy, edited-to-be-PG-13 version. In the original video, female models wearing nothing but skin-tone G-string underwear parade around a fully-clothed Robin Thicke and his featured artists, T.I. and Pharrell. Attractive and accommodating, the women act as ornaments to Thicke’s song as they dance seductively and smile into the camera. If we use society’s logic as of recent, these women must “want it” from Thicke if they’re dressed like that. The only difference that exists between the original and edited video is that the women are slightly more clothed. Only barely though, in order to retain their status as sex objects for Thicke’s creative vision. 

"Blurred Lines", a song basically condoning sexual assault by trivializing sexual consent, made it to #1 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the Billboard R&B Songs chart. It is Thicke’s most successful song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart to date. His success with "Blurred Lines" doesn’t stop at the US, however; the song has become a global hit, climbing the music charts in Canada and in countries across Europe. Rape apologists are a worldwide phenomenon! 

Remember, this is a song about glorifying rape. It is also wildly popular, which should worry all of us. Is this situation upsetting? Yes. Surprising? Absolutely not. Consider the cultural context in which this song was allowed to become such a hit. Think back to the Steubenville rape case and how the rape victim was blamed so harshly for what was done to her. Across the country, ignorant authorities, parents and teenagers claimed that she was asking for it. Turn on the news and surely you’ll hear about the 30 year old teacher who raped his teenage student. His victim later committed suicide, yet a judge had the gall to state that she was “in control” of the situation, in control of her own rape. Recall every single instance of rape and assault where female victims are told again and again how they truly “wanted it”. 

And if all of the above isn’t enough to piss you off, here’s an endearing quote from Robin Thicke himself. When asked about the blatant objectification of women in his music video for “Blurred Lines”, Thicke replied, “We tried to do everything that was taboo, bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women.” He then said, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” Sure you have, Robin. 

"Jailing the Victim," Sarah Lock, Public Relations

The average, informed person would most likely agree with the idea that rapists are criminals. They would hopefully go on to believe that rapists, like all criminals, should be held 100% accountable for their actions and receive their due punishment. The same person should then also hold that rape victims are solely victims who deserve support and privacy, not punishment and shame. They would very much disagree with the idea of imprisoning rape victims, an extremely illogical reaction to the situation. If the jailing and punishment of rape victims truly is as absurd as it seems, why is it actually happening? Better yet, why has it not gotten any major news coverage?

After doing some internet research, I can infer that the legal persecution of rape victims is not a widely-used method of dealing with rape cases, thankfully. Even so, it should never have to come to this in the first place. Through my research, I have compiled some instances within the last few years where rape victims have been treated as the criminals:

  • Marte Dalelv, a Norwegian woman working in Qatar, was sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai, United Arab Emirates after she was raped by a co-worker in March 2013. She received this sentence after she reported the rape, but instead of getting justice, she was criminalized for having “unlawful sex”, or sex outside of marriage. According to the laws of the UAE, all sex outside of marriage is a crime, even if it is rape. Dalelv spent four days in a Dubai prison before Norwegian diplomats secured her release. Thankfully, her rapist ended up receiving a jail sentence, even though it was only for 13 months (less jail time than what Dalelv received for being raped!) and the charges were “out-of-wedlock sex and alcohol consumption” instead of rape.
  • Alicia Gali, an Australian woman who left her home to work in the UAE, came forward about being raped in 2008 by three of her co-workers. After having her drink spiked by one of the men, she awoke later on in a hotel room to find herself bruised, severely injured and naked. She was sentenced to 11 months in jail for “unlawful sex and alcohol consumption”. Two of the rapists received 12-month sentences, and the third rapist was sentenced to 13 months. Gali spent a horrific eight months in prison before she was pardoned. Even worse, her rapists were released on the very same day. 
  • In April 2013, a 10-year old girl in the Bulandshahr district of India was arrested after her family pressed charges against the girl’s rapist. Fortunately, the upper-level officials of the police force released the girl after hearing about her arrest. The rapist then physically assaulted the family the day after they pressed charges against him. 
  • In February 2013, an 18-year-old aboriginal woman in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was arrested and denied a rape kit by the Edmonton police when she called for help after being raped and beaten. She ended up in jail and was denied medical treatment for over 40 hours. Even after she was finally able to see doctors who confirmed that she had been raped, she was taken back into custody. Edmonton police officers had found out that she was wanted on a previous warrant for a breach of probation, but nothing could ever excuse the treatment she received at the hands of the Edmonton police in her time of need.
  • In 2011, an Afghan woman was released from a Kabul prison where she spent two years after being raped, under the charges of “adultery”. The woman was 19 years old at the time of her rape and was arrested after she conceived the child of her rapist. She lived with her daughter in jail but they were finally released only after the Afghan president requested it. Before her release from prison, she was being pressured into marrying her rapist, who was also serving jail time at a separate prison.
  • In 2007, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced a 19-year old gang-rape victim to six months in jail and 200 lashes. Her original charge was for being out in public with men who were not her relatives. Her charges doubled from 90 lashes to 200 because of her “attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media”, after she spoke with Western news sources. The court did end up eventually doubling the prison sentences of the seven rapists from 10 months-5 years in prison to 2-9 years. 

The backlash against rape survivors is nothing new or unfamiliar. We’ve seen and heard enough despicable news coverage and media response as of recent in the US. I see very little difference. The issue of victim-jailing goes far beyond victim-blaming, yet the consequences are the same: Rape survivors are being pushed further into silence and helplessness by these wrongful actions. I can only hope that the survivors of these situations can heal past the trauma and public humiliation they have experienced. 

We are pleased to announce that Lo Ingold will be our new Vice President. 

We are pleased to announce that Lo Ingold will be our new Vice President. 

"When a Friend Comes Forward," Sarah Lock

When I first applied to volunteer with Rape is Never Justified, I applied for both the positions of Public Representative and Peer Advocate. However, since I had no previous experience working with rape and assault survivors, I was not assigned to be a peer advocate. Ever since I began working with RNJ last year, I have completed my tasks as a public representative: reaching out to like-minded organizations, spreading our message, writing for our blog, and promoting our services. While I am still not an official peer advocate, I have had several opportunities as an RNJ volunteer (on and off the clock) to act as a source of advice, reassurance and consolation for rape survivors. It has been a learning experience every time. 

What I am gaining from RNJ has genuinely helped me to become a better proponent of sexual assault awareness and coping methods. I have had members of the RNJ audience contact me for advice on where to go next, who to reach out to, and how to move forward from their assault. More recently, I had a personal friend come to me for help after being sexually assaulted. Being the first person they* came out to about the incident, I was so honored by their trust in me and their courage in their own self. Since they came forward to me so soon after the assault, they were dealing with major feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shamefulness about what had happened to them. Their perpetrator happened to be a family friend, making their feelings even more difficult to deal with. 

I talked my friend through their problems for the next couple of weeks. I was sure to send good resources on post-assault guidance, confirmed that they were able to stay away from their assailant, and helped them to navigate their feelings about the incident. Over this period of time, I saw them make great progress towards healing from their trauma. I was glad to learn that they eventually felt brave enough to tell their family about the assault, and was both happy and relieved that their family believed them. Overall, I am glad to have gone through and aided the beginnings of my friend’s healing process. 

Here are some basic tips if a friend comes to you for help after rape or assault:

1. Be a good listener. This should go without saying whenever someone comes to you with a serious problem. Let them vent about their anger, fear, sadness, frustration, confusion, embarrassment, etc. Once they have expressed their thoughts and feelings, this is usually your turn step in and give your advice. Of course, it is ultimately their decision whether they take your advice or not. 

2. Believe them. According to the National Defense Authorization Act, only 2% of rapists are falsely accused. This is a pretty good reason for you to take your friend’s word (or basically anyone who has been raped or assaulted) for the truth. If they trusted you enough to tell you about their trauma, the least you can do is to accept their story. 

3. Avoid accusing the victim. Though you would not likely outright blame your friend for being attacked, there are certain tones and words that should be avoided. Things like “why did you get in that car with them in the first place?”, “you couldn’t have seen that coming?” or “you knew you shouldn’t have been alone with them” can make the survivor feel even more guilt than they already might be feeling. 

4. Reaffirm the fact that it wasn’t their fault. Even if the survivor knows this, they could be having doubts due to the feelings of confusion and shame brought on by the incident. Remind them that the fault of the the attack is 100% on the attacker. This sort of reassurance can be very meaningful to someone who finds themselves placing the blame on their own self for what has been done to them. 

5. Keep in touch. It’s a smart idea to periodically check in on your friend to see how they are coming along through their healing. Making sure that they are staying focused on themselves, avoiding their attacker at all times (if possible), and remaining hopeful about the situation is key. Let them know that you are there for them. 

I look forward to hearing your advice and tips on helping friends who have decided to come forward. I also thank the RNJ family for providing a support network of dedicated anti-rape, pro-healing activists. What I learn from this organization is truly meaningful to me and many, many others. 

*I chose to use “they/their/them” pronouns to better maintain the anonymity of the survivor.

"Using Rape As Shock Value," Sarah Lock, Public Relations

People are constantly looking for new ways to draw attention to their ideas and themselves. Whether or not that attention is positive or negative simply doesn’t matter to some. Most people are familiar with “controversial” or shock media, which relies on topics that may be sensitive, political, or aimed at a specific gender or race. These kinds of TV shows, movies, and jokes may not mean to offend, but often do. Though rape is something that is personal and hard to bring up, this has hardly kept it from being included in the media for shock value or cheap laughs. In either situation, rape is being taken lightly or is outright mocked, but never  taken seriously for the crime that it is. 

One type of media which tends to lean on controversial topics is contemporary art. This specific piece of art, technically one conceptual piece, grabbed my attention with its controversial idea and concept. The entire project was based around the idea of the artist raping his viewers, or “willing” participants. Though the project was eventually revealed to be a complete hoax, I was nonetheless bothered by this man’s casual use of rape in order to add an edge to his theoretical art project. 

The artist of this fake piece is named Richard Whitehurst, and he called his project “The Rape Tunnel”. The bizarre project can be summarized literally as “consensual”, participatory rape. The following text is a description of The Rape Tunnel in Whitehurst’s own words:

 I’ve constructed a 22 ft tunnel out of plywood that leads into the project room. There is no way in or out of the project room except for this tunnel. As you travel through the tunnel, it gets smaller and smaller, making it so that you have to crawl and put yourself in a submissive position in order to reach the tunnel’s destination. At the end of the tunnel the subject will find me waiting in the project room and I’ll try to the best of my ability to overpower and rape the person who crawls through. I want to make it clear that I plan to make the experience as unpleasant as I possibly can to anyone who dares to crawl through the tunnel. I will try to the best of my ability to make them regret their decision.

Just reading Whitehurst’s description made me extremely uncomfortable. The idea behind his fake project is that people will willingly subject themselves to being raped by him, all in the name of art. Then again, this participation from the audience would not make it rape in the first place! 

Overall, I am opposed to the use of rape in order to draw gasps and laughs from a crowd. If you need to resort to joking about or making light of rape in order to get a reaction from your audience, that should be sign that you need new material. Material that doesn’t push rape survivors further into silence, shame and embarrassment. This isn’t about being “politically correct”, its about having respect for people who have lived through a seriously traumatic experience and will likely deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives. Bottom line, rape should never be a tool for artists, comedians or directors to use in exchange for a cheap reaction. 

Guest Blogger: “Did I Deserve This?” Bonnie, AUS

Did I deserve this?

A question I have heard said by “victims” said so many times. “Did I deserve this?”  The thoughts, their memories and they’re actions leading up to the event which made them a “victim”. Why do we think this? Why do we believe this for a second, rationally of course we know we know we weren’t intending or trying to provoke an attack. Why did it happen? A singular thought I have had go through my own mind so many times, what on earth possess someone to do this? No one in their right mind would or could do this! It must have been me! I brought this upon myself somehow, I did this, I caused this. This is my fault.

So.. How do we tackle this beast inside our mind that turns all the blame, anger, shame, self-hatred, towards ourselves? How can we even begin to look over the wall of this inner prison we have trapped ourselves inside and cannot seem to find the exit sign for?

We have to find the right emotional and mental tools in order to gain the power and ability to fight this beast and knock down this wall. Finding the right tools is our very first step, finding the courage to be able to face the beast is the very first thing. Acknowledging it happened and its over! It’s the past and the reason it’s in the past is because unfortunately the world doesn’t stop or even slow down to let us deal with these things. It’s done, that happened and it can’t be changed no matter how much you think about it, reply it differently. Its over. Once that is faced, the very first step has been taken to resolve it!

So where do we gain these tools to help us? For me it took a lot of self-examination not in a negative way. Just stopping, I spent 3 years avoiding silence, doing anything to have constant noise. I would literally do anything; listen to music the second I was alone, listening to a podcast as I go to sleep. Believe me the podcast sleeping thing took its toll on a few relationships. One day I just had to stop and allow silence. That was my personal way of starting to deal, to be able to think. Allowing the noise of my own thoughts was so painful but yet relieving at the same time.

Everyone has different methods and tools to help themselves, it doesn’t matter which method you use, pick up a self-help book, see a therapist, take a yoga class. Anything that works for you!

 

 

"There Are NO Absolutes," Ali Mark, Founder

As many of you know, I do a lot of the interacting (as well as the rest of our staff) on the Facebook page and the website and so on. Well, someone had posted to the wall this quote: 

All men are rapists and that’s all they are. — Marilyn French

To go on a literary rant, the definition of the word “all” is as follows: 

        1. used for emphasis

        2. used to determine a whole quantity or extent of a particular thing

        3. the whole of one’s possessions, energy, or interest

All. There’s very few statements that require the word “all,” while remaining accurate. 

        1. All humans must drink fluids to live. 

        2. All Dairy Queen’s in the United States have the same logo.

Statements that the word “all” is often used for, while being inaccurate.

        1. All children go to school.

        2. All dogs like to go for walks.

Back to the original statement, now. “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” So in other words, every man in the population, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, etc., is a rapist. That is the only signifier of their existence. Is that they are a rapist. Now, this statement may be taken out of context, but that’s the bothersome part. The individual who posted this comment, posted it out of the original context. This woman continued to post: 

"Therefore, all men are rapists by default.” I have two conflicting issues with these types of statements. The word “all” is a horrible choice, as is the word “default,” but aside from my original thought process. Secondly, this is trying to be a progressive, feminist stance. And what I had proceeded to bring up on the RNJ page was that, these statements exclude gay men; asexual men; prepubescent boys; etc. When statements are made in such a blanket term (“all,” “default,” “every,”), there are many exclusions that don’t arrive at the mind of the individual. 

Another individual began to embark on this conversation, and said that “Not all men can be rapist.” This was the positive part of her statement. However, her rebuttal to that was, “no gay man will rape.” By exchanging “all” for “no,” that makes the statement just as ignorant. 

I cannot stress enough how language is so crucial to the way rape culture and feminism and activism plays into things. A similar blog I wrote about the Stubenville, Ohio, case can be found here.

"Rape Compared to Car Accidents," by Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate

Rape Compared to Car Accidents?

As a survivor myself, I could not believe when I read this headline: “Anti-Abortion leader faces criticism after comparing rape to car accidents.” After I watched the video, it got even worse. In the video, this Barbra Listing character said, “Nobody plans on having an accident….nobody plans on their homes being flooded…[you need to take out extra insurance for that]”, referring to rape. Insert gasp, please!! As we all know very well, rape is no accident. If fact, I cringe at the very notion of someone actually believing that rape can be compared to anything other than a destructive and malicious crime, not to mention the premeditation behind it.

The thing that stings is that the fight for women’s rights is not over. We are actually fighting ourselves…other women to have our voices heard. It’s one thing to disagree with people where a degree of separation is more easily noted, like with men and women for instance. But when those who have the same body as us, the same rights as us, the same everything as us are railing against our rights as human beings, it makes for a very emotionally charged situation.

Personally, I am pro-choice, especially in cases of rape and incest. If someone is not, then that is their choice and I respect that. However, there is a very big difference between being pro-life and pushing that onto others in a way which causes upset, harm, and is downright disrespectful. Rape is not like a car accident or it would not be called rape. Rape is also not like a home getting flooded or it would be called a natural disaster.

This example of the ignorance surrounding rape and other forms of sexual abuse is one that reflects the ignorance we face as a society. For those of you who avidly follow my blogs, you know I am all about de-gendering things. In this case, regardless of gender, the one expectation is that people know and understand that rape is not an accident. Clearly, we need more education, more exposure to rape cases, and definitely more strength and patience.

Affirmation: Education is power. Compassion, compassion, compassion.

 

"The Sloth Meme," Ashley Evans, Peer Advocate

The Sloth Meme

As many of our supporters have noticed, there is a new “rape sloth” meme going around. If you haven’t noticed, some of the pictures include phrases such as “Go ahead call the cops, they can’t unrape you,” “I take the ‘the’ out of psychotherapist,” “no means yes, and yes means anal” and “roses are red, violets are blue, I am going to anally rape you” to name a few. The possibilities are endless and there always seems to be a new version of this meme. In short, these memes make fun of rape and make light of the situation.

However, rape should not be something to make fun of. It should not be the butt of any joke. Rape is serious. It can cause multiple severe problems, including but not limited to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased sexual risk in the future, anxiety, agoraphobia, and a multitude of other problems.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done on Facebook about these memes to take them down indefinitely. You can all report this type of behavior and these memes. Also, you could message the page directly even though they may or may not take it well and may even attempt to attack you for attacking them. But what we have to realize is that people will post whatever they wish regardless of who challenges it. It is their right.

If you do decide to message the pages, I would recommend doing so calmly and explaining why these messages are/could be harmful as well as triggering to those that have suffered from these atrocities Speak up. Get your friends to speak up. Get their friends to speak up. One voice can change the world.  

“‘Othering’ Rape Victims Within The Community,” Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate

The OTEHR Victims

 

Over the course of the past few weeks, several conversations have come up around men and rape. Not necessarily in the sense of ‘some men rape women’, but rather that men get raped too. I feel strongly about this topic because although I don’t ever want to take attention or empowerment away from girls and women, it’s also important in this line of work to look at all aspects of what rape encompasses. Therefore, I will writing about rape victims other than females and shed some light on this aspect of rape. 

From emotion alone, it’s very easy to blame when we are hurt. I think that as human beings, we all have the ability to put blame somewhere even if it helps to heal us a little. When female rape victims blame ‘all men’ for sexual abuse, it creates an environment where male rape victims may feel shut out. Should we be able to suffer, cope, and heal together as people regardless of gender (yes, not sex but gender)? Absolutely. I am not saying we need or should let others in if we’re not ready. I am simply saying that we should be able to come together as a community, regardless of sex or gender at some point and deal with the reality.

                                                Is it a sex and gender thing?

After a lot of work in the LGBTQ community, I have had the privilege of learning so much about different people and different ways of life. Society is so much more diverse than we know. When we start having discusses about gender, it’s truly an amazing thing that we have created; that we humans are actually very fluid. In saying this, I want to point out that there is rape going on in every community and not just among females. Men, women, transgendered, transsexuals, bisexuals, androgynous, lesbian, gay, queer…whatever people are, rape doesn’t happen in just one community. When we start building walls around ourselves and blame another gender, what are we really creating?

We need to start acknowledging this. We need to change our words and our thought process around how rape affects people. The truth is that not all men are rapists. Not all women will be raped. Not all women get raped by men only. It is in my opinion that we have created such strong feelings or thought processes about what gender roles are and how they are supposed to be played in society that we have created our own suffering from this. In other words, we expect things from different genders. But expectations are not fair or reality: I should not expect men to rape. Nor can I expect women not to rape, or boys to only be raped my adult men, or girls to only be raped by adult men…these are all socially constructed ideals that are creating more suffering than healing.

When we begin putting labels on everything, when we put fear into everything, we have created our own hell. Stigma, stigma, stigma.

Check out this video of men discussing their rape.

 

 

 

"Women, Sex, Men, & Pressure," Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate

This blog is directed at heterosexual women. However, in any type of relationship the potential is there for us to be burdened with providing the ‘prefect sexual experience’, something that is clearly not reality. So, read away!

 

Every morning when I check my email, I read things from different health based websites that I have subscribed to as well as junk mail offering information about how women can please their man in bed. “10 way to please you man” was the latest one. Another I recently read said “10 things women do wrong in bed.” Wrong? That word alone is enough to make any women run the other way in fear of being put under even more pressure to be ‘prefect’ in bed. As if to say that women should be pleasing their man 100% of the time, we can’t possibly live up to these unrealistic standards. Besides, these lists of ‘10 things women blah blah blah….in bed’ are made up by who?? Exactly.

Sex is about so much more than always pleasing the other person. It’s about mutual respect, being comfortable with our imperfect bodies and body movements. It is about connecting on a different level that may not have anything to do with sex, the act itself. The emotional and spiritual energy we share with our sexual partner is many of times much more important and crucial to reaching a high level of pleasure, in all aspects of the word.

So what about these emails which in my opinion, are womanizing and scrutinizing? There sure is a lot to say. Here are some main points:

-  Pressure for women to physically preform

-  Says that women should worry about their sexual skills

-  Says that sexual skills should not come naturally

-  Takes empowerment and self-love away

-  Decreases a women’s self-value and confidence

-  Sends a message that women should only worry about their partners needs

To name a few.

Women, if you’re receiving emails or messages like this in any way in your life, please do your amazing selves a favor and take them with a grain of salt. No one else is you and you are perfect in every single way. Don’t keep allowing sex to be an issue in your life. Whether you’re sexually active or not, no matter where you are in your process, sex is something that IS imperfect. That’s what makes it so special and personal.

 

Anonymous said: I just want to say that this organization is inspirational and you people are amazing and beautiful and wonderful... i really wish I could volunteer but I live in the U.K :( But I will still try and help by spreading your word and letting everyone know what you guys do <3

We accept UK volunteers in the form of guest bloggers! We LOVE hearing different inputs and we love having a variety of people. 

Also! Check out the Testimonial Campaign on Facebook! You could share your testimony and hopefully it’ll help others! Here’s an example of one! 

"When Rape Culture Reaches Children," Sarah Lock

If you’ve been paying any attention to recent news, you’re well aware of the Steubenville rape crisis. You may have also heard about the shockingly similar events that took place not long after in Canada and California. In each situation, a teenage girl  was raped, that rape was photographed, the photographs were spread through social media and harsh bullying ensued. Both young women ended up committing suicide due to the great pain and ridicule they endured. This string of events should certainly serve as a wake-up call for those who have not yet realized that we, as a society, have serious issues with victim-blaming and perpetuating rape culture. However, one horror story did not get as much news coverage as the previously mentioned events. Why did this particular event bother me so much? Probably because the criminals involved had yet to graduate from elementary school. 

This story involves a couple of fifth graders. Two Colville, Washington boys, aged 10 and 11, were found competent to stand trial in a juvenile court on the charges of conspiring the rape and murder of a fellow female classmate. The county prosecutor provided to the court a handwritten list from the boys, detailing the multiple steps that would lead up to the rape/homicide. The two boys were arrested back in February 2013, shortly after another schoolmate saw one of them playing with a knife on the school bus. A search of one of their backpacks lead to the finding of a 0.45-caliber semi-automatic pistol along with ammunition. The boys pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy to murder, witness tampering and juvenile firearm possession. Their motivation behind the violent plan? The girl had been rude to the boys a few times. It doesn’t get much more horrifying than this. If you needed proof that rape culture affects everyone, regardless of age, look no further. 

Some people would argue that children of that age are not capable of understanding the gravity, much less actually committing these types of crimes. However, further psychological investigation of the two boys proved that they knew exactly what they were doing, why they wanted to do it, and that they knew how wrong it was. What surprised me the most about this case was their clear understanding of the intentions behind their planned rape. While many people still hold the false belief that rape is just “violent sex”, these boys proved they knew otherwise. The case’s prosecutor, Tim Rasmussen, offered the following information from one of the boys. Rasmussen said that the boy not only knew that rape was a violent act on someone against their own will, but that the boy understood rape to be “a display of strength and power-NOT sex”. This is what concerns me the most. These boys have learned from the world around them that rape is not just a crime against someone else’s will, but a distinct tool in harming girls and women the most. 

Rape, though it affects people of all genders, is primarily a gendered crime towards women and girls. The message is everywhere: if you don’t like what a female is doing, you can harm her body through sexual assault and rape. Ruin her sexuality, and you ruin her worthAfter all, thats what women are here for, to be sexually available for men at all times. If you take that away, she has, is, nothing. The fact that these two fifth grade boys absorbed this message is just another example of how deeply ingrained this message is. I fear for the young girl who was the intended victim of the boys’ plot. I fear for every girl and woman who has the misfortune of crossing paths with boys and men who feel that they have the right to violate others, simply because society and media told them they could get away with it. 

This is by no means an isolated incident. If these two fifth grade boys thought they could use rape to effectively punish their female classmate, there are no doubt countless other young boys who have learned that rape is an acceptable way to punish girls and women. When the lesson starts at a young age, it is often even harder to unlearn. This is how rapists are made. 

"I Hugged My Rapist," Ashley Evans, Peer Advocate

I Hugged My Rapist


What I thought would be a normal day, was no normal day. The details of what happened before this moment are incredibly fuzzy, because it paled in comparison to that moment. I was coming back from a day of shopping and needed to buy some food for the house, so I drove to the supermarket on the way home and while waiting for lunch meat, I turned around and was face to face with a face I hadn’t seen in over a year and a half.


This was a man who went to my high school, I believed to be my best friend, who supported me throughout high school, who let me cry on his shoulder, who I watched White Chicks with repeatedly, who picked me up when i was feeling down, who I thought was a genuinely good guy, who gave me the nickname I now dislike because of what he put me through. We were close. He was Elmo and I was Cookie and we were Sesame Street. Only not so much later.


During the summer after we graduated, we constantly hung out and we were legitimately friends. We visited each others houses and went places together, jokingly trying to get dates for the other person. One day, he kissed and I thought nothing of it. I denied him then. But a couple of weeks later, that kiss was still on my mind and we had sex. Safe, consensual sex. After this, I went to college and thought nothing of it. There is nothing wrong with a female having an active sex drive.


When I returned home for Thanksgiving break and he wanted to hang out, I thought nothing of it; we were still friends and I assumed he just wanted to see me since he hadn’t seen me in around three months. Made sense, right? Wrong.


When he visited that day, something was off, and I was already in an incredibly vulnerable place. My fall semester wasn’t going well. I had broken up with my partner. I attended my first “Take Back the Night” event which triggered me senseless and brought up things I hadn’t realised was sexual abuse, etc. I was crying and he wanted me to “feel better.” I ended up feeling worse.


My brother was in the next room and he might have saved me, but I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t feel anything but numb. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. or at least not by him. I just remember repeating the word “stop.” When we finished (as if I had a choice in the matter), I just laid there comatose on the floor, tears leaking out of my eyes, but not making a sound. He offered to leave and I nodded. When we reached the door, he apologized and tried to give me a hug. I shook my head. He’d left scratches on my ribs and I was already in enough pain elsewhere.


I didn’t report, but I wish I had. I didn’t tell anyone at home, but I wish I had. I felt as though I deserved it, even though I didn’t. I felt as though since we had sex for the first time that he felt he had the rights to my body. When I went back to school (perks of going out of state), that’s when I shut down and eventually ended up telling my mentor what happened. She hugged me, I flinched, and she got the truth out of me. Upon telling her, I felt a little bit better, especially with hearing her story of her mother’s abuse and this is what I realized:


  1. Rape by someone you know (aka acquaintance rape) is more common than you think.

  2. I was not alone.

  3. Talking helps. Being silent isn’t helping anyone except for your rapist.

  4. Just because you have sex with someone once, it doesn’t mean that you have to continually have sex with that person. Your body is just that: yours. no one should ever control it except you.


Fast forward to eighteen months later, after healing, chanting, and re-finding myself both in life, and in my work, I see him at the supermarket. My heart dropped into my intestines. I didn’t know what to do. I just stared at him for a few seconds as if in disbelief. How dare he work where I shop? That’s unrealistic though. I knew I just wanted an excuse to be angry. So, I calmed down, took a few deep breaths, approached him, and gave him a hug. We chatted for a bit and I left.


I hugged my rapist. I forgave my rapist. Time healed my wounds and so does the pain of performing and talking about it.Let me know if you have any questions.  

 

"Blurred Lines," by Sarah Lock, Public Representative

It’s been over a week since MTV held it’s 2013 Video Music Awards. Even if you didn’t tune in, you’ve definitely heard about Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s scandalous duo by now. Long story short, it was embarrassing for both parties. Yet in the midst of all this Miley/Robin VMA performance aftermath, I feel inclined to take the time to discuss Thicke’s equally-problematic half of the show, his song “Blurred Lines” all on it’s own. Let’s take a look at the lyrical content of the song’s chorus:

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl

I know you want it (3x)

You’re a good girl

Can’t let it get past me

You’re far from plastic

Talk about getting blasted

I hate these blurred lines

I know you want it (3x)

But you’re a good girl

The way you grab me

Must wanna get nasty

Go ahead, get at me

I didn’t actually find out what the song was about until just a few days ago. Not being a huge radio music fan, I had little interest in the song or it’s meaning, even after I had heard it a few times. And I’ve been hearing it everywhere: the supermarket, the thrift store, the mall, etc. I will admit the tune is catchy, but doesn’t that make it even more sinister? It’s so easy to ignore the meaning when it’s masked by a well-produced beat. 

For those who are unaware, the title of the song itself, “Blurred Lines”, literally refers to the blurred lines between a “yes” and a “no” regarding sex. Thicke declares that he’s looking for a “good girl”. From what I assume, he’s probably referring to a woman who is virginal (yet flirty), innocent (yet sexy), and will have sex with him whenever he wants it. He insists that the girl in question “wants it” too, regardless of whether or not she has an actual say in the situation. If you’ve watched the video, with it’s smiling, silent women, you can probably assume that she doesn’t. 

But there is more to “Blurred Lines”  than it’s highly problematic lyrics. The song reached such popularity with the help of it’s two different videos, the original R-rated edition and it’s slightly less racy, edited-to-be-PG-13 version. In the original video, female models wearing nothing but skin-tone G-string underwear parade around a fully-clothed Robin Thicke and his featured artists, T.I. and Pharrell. Attractive and accommodating, the women act as ornaments to Thicke’s song as they dance seductively and smile into the camera. If we use society’s logic as of recent, these women must “want it” from Thicke if they’re dressed like that. The only difference that exists between the original and edited video is that the women are slightly more clothed. Only barely though, in order to retain their status as sex objects for Thicke’s creative vision. 

"Blurred Lines", a song basically condoning sexual assault by trivializing sexual consent, made it to #1 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the Billboard R&B Songs chart. It is Thicke’s most successful song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart to date. His success with "Blurred Lines" doesn’t stop at the US, however; the song has become a global hit, climbing the music charts in Canada and in countries across Europe. Rape apologists are a worldwide phenomenon! 

Remember, this is a song about glorifying rape. It is also wildly popular, which should worry all of us. Is this situation upsetting? Yes. Surprising? Absolutely not. Consider the cultural context in which this song was allowed to become such a hit. Think back to the Steubenville rape case and how the rape victim was blamed so harshly for what was done to her. Across the country, ignorant authorities, parents and teenagers claimed that she was asking for it. Turn on the news and surely you’ll hear about the 30 year old teacher who raped his teenage student. His victim later committed suicide, yet a judge had the gall to state that she was “in control” of the situation, in control of her own rape. Recall every single instance of rape and assault where female victims are told again and again how they truly “wanted it”. 

And if all of the above isn’t enough to piss you off, here’s an endearing quote from Robin Thicke himself. When asked about the blatant objectification of women in his music video for “Blurred Lines”, Thicke replied, “We tried to do everything that was taboo, bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women.” He then said, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” Sure you have, Robin. 

"Jailing the Victim," Sarah Lock, Public Relations

The average, informed person would most likely agree with the idea that rapists are criminals. They would hopefully go on to believe that rapists, like all criminals, should be held 100% accountable for their actions and receive their due punishment. The same person should then also hold that rape victims are solely victims who deserve support and privacy, not punishment and shame. They would very much disagree with the idea of imprisoning rape victims, an extremely illogical reaction to the situation. If the jailing and punishment of rape victims truly is as absurd as it seems, why is it actually happening? Better yet, why has it not gotten any major news coverage?

After doing some internet research, I can infer that the legal persecution of rape victims is not a widely-used method of dealing with rape cases, thankfully. Even so, it should never have to come to this in the first place. Through my research, I have compiled some instances within the last few years where rape victims have been treated as the criminals:

  • Marte Dalelv, a Norwegian woman working in Qatar, was sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai, United Arab Emirates after she was raped by a co-worker in March 2013. She received this sentence after she reported the rape, but instead of getting justice, she was criminalized for having “unlawful sex”, or sex outside of marriage. According to the laws of the UAE, all sex outside of marriage is a crime, even if it is rape. Dalelv spent four days in a Dubai prison before Norwegian diplomats secured her release. Thankfully, her rapist ended up receiving a jail sentence, even though it was only for 13 months (less jail time than what Dalelv received for being raped!) and the charges were “out-of-wedlock sex and alcohol consumption” instead of rape.
  • Alicia Gali, an Australian woman who left her home to work in the UAE, came forward about being raped in 2008 by three of her co-workers. After having her drink spiked by one of the men, she awoke later on in a hotel room to find herself bruised, severely injured and naked. She was sentenced to 11 months in jail for “unlawful sex and alcohol consumption”. Two of the rapists received 12-month sentences, and the third rapist was sentenced to 13 months. Gali spent a horrific eight months in prison before she was pardoned. Even worse, her rapists were released on the very same day. 
  • In April 2013, a 10-year old girl in the Bulandshahr district of India was arrested after her family pressed charges against the girl’s rapist. Fortunately, the upper-level officials of the police force released the girl after hearing about her arrest. The rapist then physically assaulted the family the day after they pressed charges against him. 
  • In February 2013, an 18-year-old aboriginal woman in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was arrested and denied a rape kit by the Edmonton police when she called for help after being raped and beaten. She ended up in jail and was denied medical treatment for over 40 hours. Even after she was finally able to see doctors who confirmed that she had been raped, she was taken back into custody. Edmonton police officers had found out that she was wanted on a previous warrant for a breach of probation, but nothing could ever excuse the treatment she received at the hands of the Edmonton police in her time of need.
  • In 2011, an Afghan woman was released from a Kabul prison where she spent two years after being raped, under the charges of “adultery”. The woman was 19 years old at the time of her rape and was arrested after she conceived the child of her rapist. She lived with her daughter in jail but they were finally released only after the Afghan president requested it. Before her release from prison, she was being pressured into marrying her rapist, who was also serving jail time at a separate prison.
  • In 2007, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced a 19-year old gang-rape victim to six months in jail and 200 lashes. Her original charge was for being out in public with men who were not her relatives. Her charges doubled from 90 lashes to 200 because of her “attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media”, after she spoke with Western news sources. The court did end up eventually doubling the prison sentences of the seven rapists from 10 months-5 years in prison to 2-9 years. 

The backlash against rape survivors is nothing new or unfamiliar. We’ve seen and heard enough despicable news coverage and media response as of recent in the US. I see very little difference. The issue of victim-jailing goes far beyond victim-blaming, yet the consequences are the same: Rape survivors are being pushed further into silence and helplessness by these wrongful actions. I can only hope that the survivors of these situations can heal past the trauma and public humiliation they have experienced. 

We are pleased to announce that Lo Ingold will be our new Vice President. 

We are pleased to announce that Lo Ingold will be our new Vice President. 

"When a Friend Comes Forward," Sarah Lock

When I first applied to volunteer with Rape is Never Justified, I applied for both the positions of Public Representative and Peer Advocate. However, since I had no previous experience working with rape and assault survivors, I was not assigned to be a peer advocate. Ever since I began working with RNJ last year, I have completed my tasks as a public representative: reaching out to like-minded organizations, spreading our message, writing for our blog, and promoting our services. While I am still not an official peer advocate, I have had several opportunities as an RNJ volunteer (on and off the clock) to act as a source of advice, reassurance and consolation for rape survivors. It has been a learning experience every time. 

What I am gaining from RNJ has genuinely helped me to become a better proponent of sexual assault awareness and coping methods. I have had members of the RNJ audience contact me for advice on where to go next, who to reach out to, and how to move forward from their assault. More recently, I had a personal friend come to me for help after being sexually assaulted. Being the first person they* came out to about the incident, I was so honored by their trust in me and their courage in their own self. Since they came forward to me so soon after the assault, they were dealing with major feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shamefulness about what had happened to them. Their perpetrator happened to be a family friend, making their feelings even more difficult to deal with. 

I talked my friend through their problems for the next couple of weeks. I was sure to send good resources on post-assault guidance, confirmed that they were able to stay away from their assailant, and helped them to navigate their feelings about the incident. Over this period of time, I saw them make great progress towards healing from their trauma. I was glad to learn that they eventually felt brave enough to tell their family about the assault, and was both happy and relieved that their family believed them. Overall, I am glad to have gone through and aided the beginnings of my friend’s healing process. 

Here are some basic tips if a friend comes to you for help after rape or assault:

1. Be a good listener. This should go without saying whenever someone comes to you with a serious problem. Let them vent about their anger, fear, sadness, frustration, confusion, embarrassment, etc. Once they have expressed their thoughts and feelings, this is usually your turn step in and give your advice. Of course, it is ultimately their decision whether they take your advice or not. 

2. Believe them. According to the National Defense Authorization Act, only 2% of rapists are falsely accused. This is a pretty good reason for you to take your friend’s word (or basically anyone who has been raped or assaulted) for the truth. If they trusted you enough to tell you about their trauma, the least you can do is to accept their story. 

3. Avoid accusing the victim. Though you would not likely outright blame your friend for being attacked, there are certain tones and words that should be avoided. Things like “why did you get in that car with them in the first place?”, “you couldn’t have seen that coming?” or “you knew you shouldn’t have been alone with them” can make the survivor feel even more guilt than they already might be feeling. 

4. Reaffirm the fact that it wasn’t their fault. Even if the survivor knows this, they could be having doubts due to the feelings of confusion and shame brought on by the incident. Remind them that the fault of the the attack is 100% on the attacker. This sort of reassurance can be very meaningful to someone who finds themselves placing the blame on their own self for what has been done to them. 

5. Keep in touch. It’s a smart idea to periodically check in on your friend to see how they are coming along through their healing. Making sure that they are staying focused on themselves, avoiding their attacker at all times (if possible), and remaining hopeful about the situation is key. Let them know that you are there for them. 

I look forward to hearing your advice and tips on helping friends who have decided to come forward. I also thank the RNJ family for providing a support network of dedicated anti-rape, pro-healing activists. What I learn from this organization is truly meaningful to me and many, many others. 

*I chose to use “they/their/them” pronouns to better maintain the anonymity of the survivor.

"Using Rape As Shock Value," Sarah Lock, Public Relations

People are constantly looking for new ways to draw attention to their ideas and themselves. Whether or not that attention is positive or negative simply doesn’t matter to some. Most people are familiar with “controversial” or shock media, which relies on topics that may be sensitive, political, or aimed at a specific gender or race. These kinds of TV shows, movies, and jokes may not mean to offend, but often do. Though rape is something that is personal and hard to bring up, this has hardly kept it from being included in the media for shock value or cheap laughs. In either situation, rape is being taken lightly or is outright mocked, but never  taken seriously for the crime that it is. 

One type of media which tends to lean on controversial topics is contemporary art. This specific piece of art, technically one conceptual piece, grabbed my attention with its controversial idea and concept. The entire project was based around the idea of the artist raping his viewers, or “willing” participants. Though the project was eventually revealed to be a complete hoax, I was nonetheless bothered by this man’s casual use of rape in order to add an edge to his theoretical art project. 

The artist of this fake piece is named Richard Whitehurst, and he called his project “The Rape Tunnel”. The bizarre project can be summarized literally as “consensual”, participatory rape. The following text is a description of The Rape Tunnel in Whitehurst’s own words:

 I’ve constructed a 22 ft tunnel out of plywood that leads into the project room. There is no way in or out of the project room except for this tunnel. As you travel through the tunnel, it gets smaller and smaller, making it so that you have to crawl and put yourself in a submissive position in order to reach the tunnel’s destination. At the end of the tunnel the subject will find me waiting in the project room and I’ll try to the best of my ability to overpower and rape the person who crawls through. I want to make it clear that I plan to make the experience as unpleasant as I possibly can to anyone who dares to crawl through the tunnel. I will try to the best of my ability to make them regret their decision.

Just reading Whitehurst’s description made me extremely uncomfortable. The idea behind his fake project is that people will willingly subject themselves to being raped by him, all in the name of art. Then again, this participation from the audience would not make it rape in the first place! 

Overall, I am opposed to the use of rape in order to draw gasps and laughs from a crowd. If you need to resort to joking about or making light of rape in order to get a reaction from your audience, that should be sign that you need new material. Material that doesn’t push rape survivors further into silence, shame and embarrassment. This isn’t about being “politically correct”, its about having respect for people who have lived through a seriously traumatic experience and will likely deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives. Bottom line, rape should never be a tool for artists, comedians or directors to use in exchange for a cheap reaction. 

Guest Blogger: “Did I Deserve This?” Bonnie, AUS

Did I deserve this?

A question I have heard said by “victims” said so many times. “Did I deserve this?”  The thoughts, their memories and they’re actions leading up to the event which made them a “victim”. Why do we think this? Why do we believe this for a second, rationally of course we know we know we weren’t intending or trying to provoke an attack. Why did it happen? A singular thought I have had go through my own mind so many times, what on earth possess someone to do this? No one in their right mind would or could do this! It must have been me! I brought this upon myself somehow, I did this, I caused this. This is my fault.

So.. How do we tackle this beast inside our mind that turns all the blame, anger, shame, self-hatred, towards ourselves? How can we even begin to look over the wall of this inner prison we have trapped ourselves inside and cannot seem to find the exit sign for?

We have to find the right emotional and mental tools in order to gain the power and ability to fight this beast and knock down this wall. Finding the right tools is our very first step, finding the courage to be able to face the beast is the very first thing. Acknowledging it happened and its over! It’s the past and the reason it’s in the past is because unfortunately the world doesn’t stop or even slow down to let us deal with these things. It’s done, that happened and it can’t be changed no matter how much you think about it, reply it differently. Its over. Once that is faced, the very first step has been taken to resolve it!

So where do we gain these tools to help us? For me it took a lot of self-examination not in a negative way. Just stopping, I spent 3 years avoiding silence, doing anything to have constant noise. I would literally do anything; listen to music the second I was alone, listening to a podcast as I go to sleep. Believe me the podcast sleeping thing took its toll on a few relationships. One day I just had to stop and allow silence. That was my personal way of starting to deal, to be able to think. Allowing the noise of my own thoughts was so painful but yet relieving at the same time.

Everyone has different methods and tools to help themselves, it doesn’t matter which method you use, pick up a self-help book, see a therapist, take a yoga class. Anything that works for you!

 

 

"There Are NO Absolutes," Ali Mark, Founder

As many of you know, I do a lot of the interacting (as well as the rest of our staff) on the Facebook page and the website and so on. Well, someone had posted to the wall this quote: 

All men are rapists and that’s all they are. — Marilyn French

To go on a literary rant, the definition of the word “all” is as follows: 

        1. used for emphasis

        2. used to determine a whole quantity or extent of a particular thing

        3. the whole of one’s possessions, energy, or interest

All. There’s very few statements that require the word “all,” while remaining accurate. 

        1. All humans must drink fluids to live. 

        2. All Dairy Queen’s in the United States have the same logo.

Statements that the word “all” is often used for, while being inaccurate.

        1. All children go to school.

        2. All dogs like to go for walks.

Back to the original statement, now. “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” So in other words, every man in the population, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, etc., is a rapist. That is the only signifier of their existence. Is that they are a rapist. Now, this statement may be taken out of context, but that’s the bothersome part. The individual who posted this comment, posted it out of the original context. This woman continued to post: 

"Therefore, all men are rapists by default.” I have two conflicting issues with these types of statements. The word “all” is a horrible choice, as is the word “default,” but aside from my original thought process. Secondly, this is trying to be a progressive, feminist stance. And what I had proceeded to bring up on the RNJ page was that, these statements exclude gay men; asexual men; prepubescent boys; etc. When statements are made in such a blanket term (“all,” “default,” “every,”), there are many exclusions that don’t arrive at the mind of the individual. 

Another individual began to embark on this conversation, and said that “Not all men can be rapist.” This was the positive part of her statement. However, her rebuttal to that was, “no gay man will rape.” By exchanging “all” for “no,” that makes the statement just as ignorant. 

I cannot stress enough how language is so crucial to the way rape culture and feminism and activism plays into things. A similar blog I wrote about the Stubenville, Ohio, case can be found here.

"Rape Compared to Car Accidents," by Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate

Rape Compared to Car Accidents?

As a survivor myself, I could not believe when I read this headline: “Anti-Abortion leader faces criticism after comparing rape to car accidents.” After I watched the video, it got even worse. In the video, this Barbra Listing character said, “Nobody plans on having an accident….nobody plans on their homes being flooded…[you need to take out extra insurance for that]”, referring to rape. Insert gasp, please!! As we all know very well, rape is no accident. If fact, I cringe at the very notion of someone actually believing that rape can be compared to anything other than a destructive and malicious crime, not to mention the premeditation behind it.

The thing that stings is that the fight for women’s rights is not over. We are actually fighting ourselves…other women to have our voices heard. It’s one thing to disagree with people where a degree of separation is more easily noted, like with men and women for instance. But when those who have the same body as us, the same rights as us, the same everything as us are railing against our rights as human beings, it makes for a very emotionally charged situation.

Personally, I am pro-choice, especially in cases of rape and incest. If someone is not, then that is their choice and I respect that. However, there is a very big difference between being pro-life and pushing that onto others in a way which causes upset, harm, and is downright disrespectful. Rape is not like a car accident or it would not be called rape. Rape is also not like a home getting flooded or it would be called a natural disaster.

This example of the ignorance surrounding rape and other forms of sexual abuse is one that reflects the ignorance we face as a society. For those of you who avidly follow my blogs, you know I am all about de-gendering things. In this case, regardless of gender, the one expectation is that people know and understand that rape is not an accident. Clearly, we need more education, more exposure to rape cases, and definitely more strength and patience.

Affirmation: Education is power. Compassion, compassion, compassion.

 

"The Sloth Meme," Ashley Evans, Peer Advocate

The Sloth Meme

As many of our supporters have noticed, there is a new “rape sloth” meme going around. If you haven’t noticed, some of the pictures include phrases such as “Go ahead call the cops, they can’t unrape you,” “I take the ‘the’ out of psychotherapist,” “no means yes, and yes means anal” and “roses are red, violets are blue, I am going to anally rape you” to name a few. The possibilities are endless and there always seems to be a new version of this meme. In short, these memes make fun of rape and make light of the situation.

However, rape should not be something to make fun of. It should not be the butt of any joke. Rape is serious. It can cause multiple severe problems, including but not limited to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased sexual risk in the future, anxiety, agoraphobia, and a multitude of other problems.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done on Facebook about these memes to take them down indefinitely. You can all report this type of behavior and these memes. Also, you could message the page directly even though they may or may not take it well and may even attempt to attack you for attacking them. But what we have to realize is that people will post whatever they wish regardless of who challenges it. It is their right.

If you do decide to message the pages, I would recommend doing so calmly and explaining why these messages are/could be harmful as well as triggering to those that have suffered from these atrocities Speak up. Get your friends to speak up. Get their friends to speak up. One voice can change the world.  

“‘Othering’ Rape Victims Within The Community,” Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate

The OTEHR Victims

 

Over the course of the past few weeks, several conversations have come up around men and rape. Not necessarily in the sense of ‘some men rape women’, but rather that men get raped too. I feel strongly about this topic because although I don’t ever want to take attention or empowerment away from girls and women, it’s also important in this line of work to look at all aspects of what rape encompasses. Therefore, I will writing about rape victims other than females and shed some light on this aspect of rape. 

From emotion alone, it’s very easy to blame when we are hurt. I think that as human beings, we all have the ability to put blame somewhere even if it helps to heal us a little. When female rape victims blame ‘all men’ for sexual abuse, it creates an environment where male rape victims may feel shut out. Should we be able to suffer, cope, and heal together as people regardless of gender (yes, not sex but gender)? Absolutely. I am not saying we need or should let others in if we’re not ready. I am simply saying that we should be able to come together as a community, regardless of sex or gender at some point and deal with the reality.

                                                Is it a sex and gender thing?

After a lot of work in the LGBTQ community, I have had the privilege of learning so much about different people and different ways of life. Society is so much more diverse than we know. When we start having discusses about gender, it’s truly an amazing thing that we have created; that we humans are actually very fluid. In saying this, I want to point out that there is rape going on in every community and not just among females. Men, women, transgendered, transsexuals, bisexuals, androgynous, lesbian, gay, queer…whatever people are, rape doesn’t happen in just one community. When we start building walls around ourselves and blame another gender, what are we really creating?

We need to start acknowledging this. We need to change our words and our thought process around how rape affects people. The truth is that not all men are rapists. Not all women will be raped. Not all women get raped by men only. It is in my opinion that we have created such strong feelings or thought processes about what gender roles are and how they are supposed to be played in society that we have created our own suffering from this. In other words, we expect things from different genders. But expectations are not fair or reality: I should not expect men to rape. Nor can I expect women not to rape, or boys to only be raped my adult men, or girls to only be raped by adult men…these are all socially constructed ideals that are creating more suffering than healing.

When we begin putting labels on everything, when we put fear into everything, we have created our own hell. Stigma, stigma, stigma.

Check out this video of men discussing their rape.

 

 

 

"Women, Sex, Men, & Pressure," Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate

This blog is directed at heterosexual women. However, in any type of relationship the potential is there for us to be burdened with providing the ‘prefect sexual experience’, something that is clearly not reality. So, read away!

 

Every morning when I check my email, I read things from different health based websites that I have subscribed to as well as junk mail offering information about how women can please their man in bed. “10 way to please you man” was the latest one. Another I recently read said “10 things women do wrong in bed.” Wrong? That word alone is enough to make any women run the other way in fear of being put under even more pressure to be ‘prefect’ in bed. As if to say that women should be pleasing their man 100% of the time, we can’t possibly live up to these unrealistic standards. Besides, these lists of ‘10 things women blah blah blah….in bed’ are made up by who?? Exactly.

Sex is about so much more than always pleasing the other person. It’s about mutual respect, being comfortable with our imperfect bodies and body movements. It is about connecting on a different level that may not have anything to do with sex, the act itself. The emotional and spiritual energy we share with our sexual partner is many of times much more important and crucial to reaching a high level of pleasure, in all aspects of the word.

So what about these emails which in my opinion, are womanizing and scrutinizing? There sure is a lot to say. Here are some main points:

-  Pressure for women to physically preform

-  Says that women should worry about their sexual skills

-  Says that sexual skills should not come naturally

-  Takes empowerment and self-love away

-  Decreases a women’s self-value and confidence

-  Sends a message that women should only worry about their partners needs

To name a few.

Women, if you’re receiving emails or messages like this in any way in your life, please do your amazing selves a favor and take them with a grain of salt. No one else is you and you are perfect in every single way. Don’t keep allowing sex to be an issue in your life. Whether you’re sexually active or not, no matter where you are in your process, sex is something that IS imperfect. That’s what makes it so special and personal.

 

Anonymous said: I just want to say that this organization is inspirational and you people are amazing and beautiful and wonderful... i really wish I could volunteer but I live in the U.K :( But I will still try and help by spreading your word and letting everyone know what you guys do <3

We accept UK volunteers in the form of guest bloggers! We LOVE hearing different inputs and we love having a variety of people. 

Also! Check out the Testimonial Campaign on Facebook! You could share your testimony and hopefully it’ll help others! Here’s an example of one! 

"When Rape Culture Reaches Children," Sarah Lock

If you’ve been paying any attention to recent news, you’re well aware of the Steubenville rape crisis. You may have also heard about the shockingly similar events that took place not long after in Canada and California. In each situation, a teenage girl  was raped, that rape was photographed, the photographs were spread through social media and harsh bullying ensued. Both young women ended up committing suicide due to the great pain and ridicule they endured. This string of events should certainly serve as a wake-up call for those who have not yet realized that we, as a society, have serious issues with victim-blaming and perpetuating rape culture. However, one horror story did not get as much news coverage as the previously mentioned events. Why did this particular event bother me so much? Probably because the criminals involved had yet to graduate from elementary school. 

This story involves a couple of fifth graders. Two Colville, Washington boys, aged 10 and 11, were found competent to stand trial in a juvenile court on the charges of conspiring the rape and murder of a fellow female classmate. The county prosecutor provided to the court a handwritten list from the boys, detailing the multiple steps that would lead up to the rape/homicide. The two boys were arrested back in February 2013, shortly after another schoolmate saw one of them playing with a knife on the school bus. A search of one of their backpacks lead to the finding of a 0.45-caliber semi-automatic pistol along with ammunition. The boys pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy to murder, witness tampering and juvenile firearm possession. Their motivation behind the violent plan? The girl had been rude to the boys a few times. It doesn’t get much more horrifying than this. If you needed proof that rape culture affects everyone, regardless of age, look no further. 

Some people would argue that children of that age are not capable of understanding the gravity, much less actually committing these types of crimes. However, further psychological investigation of the two boys proved that they knew exactly what they were doing, why they wanted to do it, and that they knew how wrong it was. What surprised me the most about this case was their clear understanding of the intentions behind their planned rape. While many people still hold the false belief that rape is just “violent sex”, these boys proved they knew otherwise. The case’s prosecutor, Tim Rasmussen, offered the following information from one of the boys. Rasmussen said that the boy not only knew that rape was a violent act on someone against their own will, but that the boy understood rape to be “a display of strength and power-NOT sex”. This is what concerns me the most. These boys have learned from the world around them that rape is not just a crime against someone else’s will, but a distinct tool in harming girls and women the most. 

Rape, though it affects people of all genders, is primarily a gendered crime towards women and girls. The message is everywhere: if you don’t like what a female is doing, you can harm her body through sexual assault and rape. Ruin her sexuality, and you ruin her worthAfter all, thats what women are here for, to be sexually available for men at all times. If you take that away, she has, is, nothing. The fact that these two fifth grade boys absorbed this message is just another example of how deeply ingrained this message is. I fear for the young girl who was the intended victim of the boys’ plot. I fear for every girl and woman who has the misfortune of crossing paths with boys and men who feel that they have the right to violate others, simply because society and media told them they could get away with it. 

This is by no means an isolated incident. If these two fifth grade boys thought they could use rape to effectively punish their female classmate, there are no doubt countless other young boys who have learned that rape is an acceptable way to punish girls and women. When the lesson starts at a young age, it is often even harder to unlearn. This is how rapists are made. 

"I Hugged My Rapist," Ashley Evans, Peer Advocate
"Blurred Lines," by Sarah Lock, Public Representative
"Jailing the Victim," Sarah Lock, Public Relations
"When a Friend Comes Forward," Sarah Lock
"Using Rape As Shock Value," Sarah Lock, Public Relations
Guest Blogger: “Did I Deserve This?” Bonnie, AUS
"There Are NO Absolutes," Ali Mark, Founder
"Using Criminology Theories in Rape Discussion," Sarah Lock, Public Representative
"Rape Compared to Car Accidents," by Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate
"The Sloth Meme," Ashley Evans, Peer Advocate
“‘Othering’ Rape Victims Within The Community,” Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate
"Women, Sex, Men, & Pressure," Lo Ingold, Peer Advocate
"When Rape Culture Reaches Children," Sarah Lock

About:

Rape is Never Justified™ is a movement built to help, both, victims and survivors of sexual abuse and rape to find their voice and speak out. The most unique thing about RNJ is that, as a staff, we don't encourage you to report your act of violence, we don't encourage you to talk with anyone-professionals included, and we don't encourage you to turn to a Higher Power/religion to become a survivor. We only encourage you to fight when you're ready and willing- and we want to be here along the way.

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