5 Mistakes people make when discussing sexual violence – rachel thompson la gasolina lyrics translation


As a survivor, writer, and sexual abuse survivor activist, I participate in and observe real life and online daily conversations on the topic of sexual violence. Hmmm, the topic of sexual violence — like it’s just a topic, not crimes that affect people for the rest of our lives. c gastronomie limonest That change the very structure of our cells, of our brains. Simply a topic of conversation.

Not a polite dinner conversation topic, of course. Yet, still a topic people bring up regularly, because you see, everyone is an expert (I call them the ‘Should Have Dones) on what a victim of a horrific sexual crime Should Have Done after she was brutally raped, sexually molested, abused, or harassed (unless you’re in the political arena and then it’s referred to as ‘sexual misconduct,’ that vague, gray area that cannot be defined, making it easy for politicians to talk in their circles and loopholes, as they are wont to do).

‘Don’t be a victim,’ people spew at us. ‘Just get over it.’ ‘You just want the attention.’ Or my favorite (from a guy): ‘Why didn’t you just call 911? Seems easy enough.” (Well, I was only eleven at the time, and gosh well, 911 didn’t exist in 1975. Plus you know, the whole thing about how my abuser, the military dad next door, had a gun and had threatened to kill me and my baby sister if I told. So there’s that.)

Funny thing is, I am a go-getter. I am ambitious. I’m pretty chill most days. I am also a victim of a serial child molester when I was eleven. Whether I ‘get over it,’ or talk about what happened and how I’ve dealt with it doesn’t change that he sexually abused me. I deal with that reality every day. It doesn’t define me — I don’t wear a label across my forehead, however, I don’t hide it anymore either. gas quality comparison Shame no longer owns me.

If you look at the language people use, the focus is on the victim (I’m purposely using the word victim here so stay with me). Don’t be a victim. Get over it. Move on. As if we, the victims of crimes, have Done Something Wrong. As if discussing it means I’m still in victim-mode — which I’m not (because people do want to know); yet people assume that any victim of a sexual crime who discusses their harrowing real-life experience must be looking for attention because why else would we discuss something so private?

“Our tendency to blame the victim is ultimately self-protective. It allows us to maintain our rosy worldview and reassure ourselves that nothing bad will happen to us. gas prices in michigan The problem is that it sacrifices another person’s well-being for our own. It overlooks the reality that perpetrators are to blame for acts of crime and violence, not victims.” (Source: Psychology Today)

(For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll use men as the perpetrator, though I acknowledge #NotAllMen are abusers so please, let’s not go down that road. It is a well-known and researched fact that men do the majority of abusing (please read the full linked report for more data*) — of women, children, and other men. My point here is not to bash men; simply provide an example. I’m not in any way condemning men exclusively and I acknowledge that women can be abusers too, so everyone breathe.)

Most perpetrators of all forms of sexual violence against women were male. For female rape victims, 98.1% reported only male perpetrators. Additionally, 92.5% of female victims of sexual violence other than rape reported only male perpetrators. For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%). For non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, approximately half of male victims (49.0%) reported only male perpetrators and more than one-third (37.7%) reported only female perpetrators (data not shown).

This part of our brain is responsible for executive functions, including focusing attention where we choose, rational thought process and inhibiting impulses. You are using your prefrontal cortex to read this article and absorb what we’ve written, rather than getting distracted by other thoughts in your head or things going on around you. But in states of high stress, fear or terror like combat and sexual assault, the prefrontal cortex is impaired–sometimes even effectively shut down–by a surge of stress chemicals. (Source: Lisak & Hopper, TIME Ideas, 2014 ) Mistake #3: Expecting/Demanding a Hero Story

Like the reader above who expected my book to be about a woman who pulls herself up by the bootstraps and conquers the world, we are conditioned, particularly here in the West, to expect and might I even say demand, a mythic hero’s journey. gas x tablets himalaya From sitcoms to TV movies to series to Marvel and DC Universe to epics to The Olympics every two years — we are spoonfed heroes journeys at every turn.

Look at Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter — classic if clichéd examples of The Hero’s Journey (with male protagonists and male best friend side-kicks…plus the the oh-so-important scrappy, brilliant yet with not enough screen time female secondary character, who was never completely fleshed out as well as the guys and oh, always became prettier as the series wore on. Think Hermione — whom I love, yet still.). We do love a flawed underdog who grows to a champion!, finds the strength within themselves despite difficult circumstances, defeats the bad guy (ta-da!), and ultimately gets the girl…and, of course, yes, and they lived happily ever after.

Survivors of sexual violence are my heroes. We get up and live each and every day despite living with some combo of anxiety, depression, flashbacks, dissociation, nightmares, insomnia, triggers, hypersensitivity, hypervigilance, migraines, any number of immune disorders, addiction, and all kinds of other shit we are at higher risk for solely because we were a victim of sexual violence at some point in our lives.

Again, with the victim-blaming.Yet the perfect victim expectation goes far beyond that. We’ve all watched enough Hollywood tropes to have been brainwashed into thinking that victims should be thin, virginal, pretty, helpless creatures who are perfect in every way (good), OR they are vampy vixens dressed in leather whom we know have it coming because they ooze sex (bad).

Cases have been dismissed entirely because the victim didn’t cry sufficiently or wasn’t hysterical enough (if you recall, PTSD used to be referred to as ‘shellshock’ for a reason). gas vs electric oven temperature Our brains can react in a multitude of ways during and after sexual assault — see Jim Hopper’s comprehensive work to get the neuroscientific background in understandable terms. As Jim points out, investigators have to learn how to talk to victims differently based on the latest scientific studies on how the brain reacts to intense trauma.

Memory gaps are common — why? Because of the pre-frontal cortex impairment mentioned above. Details can be hazy and remain hazy. The best scientists in the world don’t know exactly why, yet lawyers, judges, and juries demand definitive proof a victim isn’t lying (and even with proof, rape kits are collecting dust. Again, whole other post).

I experienced dissociation each time my abuser molested me (not realizing that watching myself as he abused me was not abnormal). I dissociated frequently throughout high school and college — it was normal for me to watch myself from above. Now that I know what that feeling is (something I can do on command), I’m much more aware. Sometimes, though, it happens and I don’t realize it at all. My family knows, though. My guy says he can see me ‘going under.’

By accusing a survivor who is brave enough to come forward for not fitting into the perfect victim myth you’ve come to expect, or accusing them of lying, it’s as if we are all having the wrong argument. What we have here is a faulty car engine (the brain, which in truth isn’t faulty at all), yet you’re accusing, discrediting, and blaming the driver.

Social media is rife with conspiracy theories about the Ford/Kavanaugh situation — which I won’t dignify by going into here on this post. The #MeToo movement, which has brought forward incredible, heartbreaking, brave voices sharing horrific stories of sexual violence, is now being attacked as men vs. women, as right-wing vs those ‘heathen, liberal left’ (never mind the number of priests, GOP’ers identified as child molesters and rapists, Fox News?). Some of the people involved in spreading and believing these stories are tin-foil hat ridiculous.

Which is why I refuse to discuss politics and sexual violence together in the same tweet or post.* I won’t argue with anyone about sexual violence and politics. They are completely separate because my focus is and always will be on the survivor. And if you work with The Joyful Heart Foundation as I do or RAINN (also wonderful), you’ll see they are not political, either (except to help get funding for rape kit testing or more services for survivors).

As I already mentioned above, the other part of politicizing sexual violence is the assumption that all sexual violence survivors are liars (ONLY if the survivor is hurting your candidate). Why do you suppose this is? Because diehard party-line believers and supporters cannot afford to question their own familiar belief system (this topic brings in fallacies, which you can read more about here). Whole other post.

“ Why didn’t she report? She had plenty of time!” Such an easy question to ask. So simple. gas 1940 As easy as asking a domestic violence survivor why she didn’t just leave, right? Surely, violent, criminal situations can be explained away with a tweet. I hope this sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, yet that’s what people demand from survivors, particularly women.

I’ve shared above how parts of the brain shut off during trauma. If the victim chooses to come forward immediately, investigators must be trained to question survivors appropriately, keeping this in mind. The victim may not answer in a way politicians or the public would ‘expect’ a perfect victim to answer — yet the knowledge of how the brain responds to trauma is not widely known or understood.

I won’t go into the details of my own sexual abuse here, but I will share this: as someone who did report (eventually) and testified in two trials at the age of twelve (civil and military), I can tell you it was one of the most terrifying, humiliating, and shameful experiences I’ve ever had, facing the man who abused me, having to explain what he did to me while others scrutinized every excruciating, embarrassing detail for further questioning and cross-examination.