You are not alone

One of the results of sexual assault is that terrible feeling of being alone. It is that perception that what happened to you singles you out somehow and makes you different from everyone else. The sad truth is that sexual assault is disturbingly common. You are not alone.

This is not a tale that was submitted to this project. It does however demonstrate the attitude other members of society can take. Many of us have been shunned, ridiculed, or told “it’s not that bad” because of what happened to us. People have these messed up assumptions about what it means to be raped.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/apr/30/rape-justice-after-20-years

The attitude the Dean had towards the whole situation was disgusting

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An Essay of Interest: Culture of Silence

Although this may seem off topic for this blog, I decided to post it anyway. For all that we as victims of sexual assault suffer quite a bit through public opinion, it occasionally seems that we come off light.  Although Eastern European, I would most likely be classified as a white woman. This means that I have a more reasonable chance of having public opinion take my side in the event of sexual assault.

Many ethnicities are not so lucky. Throughout both Canada and the US, non-white assaults are less likely to receive media attention and even in some cases, Police attention.

This is especially true within Native Communities.  I recently heard a statistic that said that something like 150 Native women went missing in the last three years and their disappearances were not investigated.

Interestingly, First Nations people have been relatively silent in the past, when it comes to using popular media, in speaking out against the atrocities committed against them. In the class I was taking, I noticed a pattern. Many of those keeping silent, were those who had been assaulted in some way. Assaults that happened years before were only now coming to light. It reminded me of the silence of all victims. How often are we made to feel as though we do something wrong when we tell our stories? How often does someone tell us not to talk about it because it is too painful? Just as we have every right to speak out, so do they. It is not about others now but about us, as victims, to take back our voice and independence.

This is what many Natives are now doing. There was been a plethora of new books, essays, and stories written by Natives about their experiences in residential schools and other such government initiated acts of violence.

I may not be Native, but I hope that I can be forgiven in playing a part in helping their stories to be told. This is the essay I wrote for my class.

Breaking the Culture of Silence
Moreover, I noticed that the same sexual colonization that happens to the Natives in the article, actually happens to many victims of sexual assault. The same dehumanizing tactics are used against women of all races and creeds. I don’t care care which ethnicity you belong to, I think it is Time for us to Speak out and Break the Culture of Silence.

Safety after the fact

Hello All,

So I had a hard time coming up with an inoffensive name for the post, but I am hoping that the actual subject matter will redeem it.

I have recently had a discussion with some girls who were sexually assaulted. The actual even differed, but one thing they all had in common was what happened after the fact. I completely understand the need to forget about what happened, to pretend it never occurred, but I beg you, if you have been sexually assaulted by anyone, please go and get yourself tested for STIs.

One of the girls I spoke to avoided the test for too long and became infertile.

What happened is not your fault. You have a right to be upset and get angry or cope however you need to, but your physical health can be just as important as your mental health.

There are free STI clinics across the states (or so I am told. If anyone has the name and contact information for these organizations, please let me know). Planned Parenthood is a good resource for safe and effective testing.

In Canada, you must specifically request an STI test to be performed before a doctor can do one. Most clinics are equipped to do this, but sexual health clinics are available throughout the country. These tests are covered by your provincial health insurance.

In order to be fully tested you must have both a swab and blood test done. You must specifically request all tests. You can also ask to be started on Prophylactic anti-HIV medication to reduce your risk of infection. The Plan B pill is also effective at preventing post-exposure pregnancy.

Please know, being infected with an STI is nothing to be ashamed about. What happened to you is not your fault.

No means NO

I have received the first experience-story submission. This experience comes from Lily of the Valley. I want to personally thank her for her bravery in sharing her story. I know it can be difficult. Please know that you have our support and that what happened was not your fault.

The summer that I was 23 was a summer I’ll never forget. In many ways, it was the best summer of my life. I got to follow a rock star across the country, I had an awesome vacation with my friends and I managed a 4.0 GPA for the summer semester. However, on the flip side of the coin, it was a difficult summer. My grandfather lost his battle with lung cancer which ended up dividing our family. That summer was also the summer that I became a statistic. I was raped by my boyfriend at the time.

I will never forget this day. I had just come back from California and he and I were lying on my bed watching a movie in our pajamas. He turned over and said “I missed you,” and started rubbing my clitoris through my shorts. “Don’t,” I said. “I’m jet lagged and I just want to sleep.” For the next 10 or so minutes he kept at it. Finally, when he had stripped me of my shorts and had put his fingers into my vagina, I said “Whatever…” and we had sex. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that this was rape.

It wasn’t until after we broke up that I realized that almost every time we had sex for the last year of our relationship that it was like this instance. A lot of the things he did constituted sexual abuse (examples: buying me a sex toy and telling me that I should use it, calling me his slut, pressuring me for anal intercourse, etc…). I also realized that he never had a nice thing to say about me. When I told him that I was going to see a therapist about the depression over my grandfather‘s passing, he told me “Maybe if you lose weight, you’ll feel better about yourself.” Ironically, when we broke up, I ended up not needing that therapist.

What I know now is that none of this was my fault. I did nothing to deserve the hell that he put me through for 2 out of 3 years. I will never get that time in my life back, but I can use my time now to help other victims of sexual assault.

I didn’t report what he did to me. Now that I recognize what happened to me, I will report it if it happens again. Thankfully, I now am with someone who loves and accepts who I am. It’s nice.

From: Lily of the Valley

Stories of in-relationship sexual assault can be particularly hard to share because of the overwhelming level of animosity on this issue. Like all women who have been through this situation, I hope that everyone out there knows: you have a right to say no to your partner and expect to be taken at your word.

Time

Hello All,

I know it is taking some time to get new stories posted on here. Please be patient. I have had a few people express an interest but it can take time to talk yourself around to the right mental state to do something like this.

In the meantime, if you are interested in sharing your story, email me at:  itsnotyourfaultproject@gmail.com

Here is the video introducing the project.

Yes, that is me: Ania.

I encourage everyone to do their best to contribute something. If you do not want to do a video, feel free to write out your story anonymously.

Here I tell my story. It is the first video I made, both in general and for this project.

I apologize for the lag in audio. I am working with a built in webcam. If anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know.

The Project

Part of the project involves other Sexual Assault Victims, and concerned citizens, to get involved by speaking out.

You can:

– share your story by

  • making a video for our YouTube Channel
  • write a blog post
  • write a letter
  • write a poem
  • draw or pain a picture
  • write a song

– offer support via all of the above.

Any and all media can be sent to me at itsnotyourfaultproject@gmail.com