When I started this blog on March 17, 2006 I only had a vague idea of what I would do with this blog based on the desire to continue taking action after I could no longer volunteer for 9 hour or 15 hour shifts on my local sexual assault crisis line as I had done for over 9 years. I wanted to be able to share the insight I wish someone had been able to share with me soon after I was raped by my boyfriend at age 15.
Not being able to find anyone who could understand what had been done to me and to have those I did reach out to fail because of their ignorance sent me into an emotional abyss which could only be relieved by self-medication. I was stuck for too long believing the lies of seemingly decent people who excuse most rapists and who blame most rape victims.
If the resources which are available today in the US had been available back then, so much of my pain from my rape would have been averted or reduced. Unfortunately, even with the resources we have today boyfriends who aren't much different from mine are continuing to rape their girlfriends and they are continuing to find people willing to join them in blaming the girlfriends for violence committed by boyfriends.
Too many people even in 2010 position rape as the inevitable response to the rape victim's lifestyle rather than looking at rape as the reasoned response to bystander apathy and/or enablement. Thankfully, I am not alone in speaking out against the bigotry directed at sexual assault victims which helps keep the cycle of violence going strong.
Many non-profit organizations which weren't even an idea the year I was raped are making significant progress toward prevention and toward helping those who have experienced sexual violence.
I recommend that everyone read an article titled Understanding the Relationship Between Prevention and Intervention Strategies to Stop Sexual Violence by Caroline Palmer, Staff Attorney, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. This article begins with:
Sexual violence is a significant public safety and public health challenge that touches the lives of everyone, directly or indirectly. In Minnesota, United States, alone over 61,000 residents were sexually assaulted in just one year (2005). In that same year sexual violence cost Minnesota approximately $8 billion or $1,540 per resident; this is 3.3 times the costs incurred by alcohol-impaired driving. Despite growing awareness, sexual violence remains an endemic problem, meaning that it has become an expected occurrence – essentially a social norm that Minnesota shares with other states and the United States shares with other countries.Despite the continued presence of attitudes which enable rapists I have seen significant and sweeping progress in these last 4 years and see the potential for so much more progress in both the short term and long term so that rape will become as rare as the denialists claim it is today.
The leading edge of the work to stop sexual violence is changing from simple awareness to primary prevention of sexual violence. This is the type of work which could have changed my boyfriend's feeling of entitlement so that wouldn't have even considered forcing himself on me.
While I cannot fully imagine what my life would be like today without having been subjected to sexual violence, I can imagine other lives without sexual violence. And I can imagine the life of sexual violence survivors without the risk of more sexual violence and without ignorant people condemning them while ignoring rapists until those rapists abduct, rape and murder someone.
I am glad to be an active volunteer in primary prevention efforts within Minnesota. If I could afford to do so I would do even more than I'm doing now. Unfortunately, I'm at the limit of what I can afford to volunteer and the money I've received from web ads and donations hasn't even covered my expenses. I'm not complaining and would not exchange the thousands of hours I've volunteered officially and unofficially for anything.
This year's blog anniversary and my thoughts about the coming year are different since I need to move in the next few months. Because of this change I've decided to look at jobs beyond Rochester, MN which would allow me to use my skills and insights to advance the work being done to reduce the overall rate of sexual violence.
If anyone hears of any job openings either full time or freelance in the US related to sexual violence prevention please let me know. Also if you would like to help support the work I'm doing please consider giving a financial gift. These make a difference financially, but they also help me to have the heart to continue speaking out about violence which continues to break my heart.
Thank you to those who started blogging about sexual violence before I started and thank you to those who started more recently. And thank you to all those who read this blog with open hearts, especially to those who have let me know that my words have helped them feel less alone.