Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Today is the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and while I focus on this topic year-round many people do not. Most of those people do care but they either feel the topic is too depressing, too traumatic or they feel like nothing they can do will make any positive difference.

Most survivors of sexual violence rarely, if at all, talk about being survivors which is their right (it took me decades before I could begin to speak about my experiences), but too often their silence is taken as proof that they were never victims of sexual violence or if they were that the violence committed against them had no serious negative impact.

Just as many people are woefully undereducated when it comes to sex -- from STDs to basic human biology -- many people are woefully undereducated when it comes to sexual assault. For many this lack of education has a passive effect unless they are called to be jurors on a rape trial, but for others the effect is active and negative.

The boy or man who is educated about consent only by his buddies who define rape as an attack on a stranger using a gun or a knife and who call date rape "morning after regret" might have avoided becoming a rapist if he got comprehensive sex education which included the topic of legal consent. With or without education, obeying the law is his obligation, but greater understanding might have saved his victims trauma and it might save him from becoming a criminal.

If the number of rapists and non-rapist sex criminals were reduced by half or even a third through prevention that would have a huge impact since most if not all of these people would have become serial offenders. This impact would also be personal for those who were at-risk of becoming rapists since sexual violence blocks mutuality.

Sexual predators don't have genuine sexual relationships. They will blame others for any lack of sexual satisfaction when the fault is theirs. The more they push or manipulate the worse this problem will become. Their disregard for others in one area will bleed over into other areas of their lives. When they find someone they don't want to violate sexually, that history will be present in every interaction and if there is a moment of conflict they may revert to old patternes and rape the one they love.

Doesn't sound like a happy life to me even if these people are never named as sex crime suspects.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:41 PM   4 comments links to this post


At April 01, 2008 2:18 PM, Blogger Xavier Pierre Jr. said...

Your post packs an incredible amount of truth into a small space. This issue is one that I am passionate about ALL YEAR LONG. A huge portion of my personal time is spent sponsoring victims. I help them heal from past abuse, break the cycle of abuse in their current relationships, learn the skills to enter into positive personal relationship and find true intimacy. The hardest part is helping victims break the mental shackles (conditioning) that compel them to seek out abusive relationships. The people I work with were almost all abused as children, long before they were raped as young adults and adults. They all blame themselves because that is what they were taught to do. Rape is already horrific enough, but the systematic, sexual abuse and exploitation of children is beyond comprehension.
But the biggest problem I face is survivors who want nothing to do with this fight. I understand, I truly do; It takes incredible courage not only to face these personal demons, but to speak out publicly about something so dehumanizing and stigmatizing. That is why I am so proud of you and your efforts. ANYTHING I can do to help will be my pleasure. My life is dedicated to this cause.

Peace and Love,

Alizé (LoversA.blogspot.com)

At April 01, 2008 3:09 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Alizé, thank you for the kind words and for the help you provide others.

Speaking out didn't come easily for me, but now that I can find the words I want to reach more people so that our collective voices and experiences become so accepted that nobody would dare dismiss this trauma as false or grossly exagerated.

I don't want any survivor to feel as alone as I felt after being raped. I don't want the loudest voices to be of those making excuses for the sexually violent.

At April 01, 2008 5:17 PM, Blogger Lovebabz said...

Thank you Marcella for reaching out to me. It has been a long long time since I talked openly about my abuse. I am not bound by it nor am I held hostage by it. I do have some residual shit that rears its ugly head every now and again. But I can say with all authority that there is light at the end of the tunnel and if folks do the healing work, they can have a life worth living. I do indeed.

It take a great dela of courage to share with the world this act of violence. Everyone is always sad by it, and yet instill, children are not safe even in this day and age. So Thank you for keeping the light on and illuminating our paths!

At April 01, 2008 6:06 PM, Blogger sophie said...

I've just quoted you. You're now 'after-warned'. Thanks Marcella, I'm awed at all the work you put into this blog.


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