Social media is a-buzz recently regarding Brock Turner, aka The Stanford Rapist. Probably America's most hated person right now. images If you have not yet read the statement made by the survivor of Brock's sexual assault, I HIGHLY suggest you read it (HERE). His slap-on-the-wrist 6 month jail sentence (which will be less than 3 months of actual jail time) has people outraged over what they believe is as a blatant miscarriage of justice caused by what is being labeled a cocktail of white privileged affluenza and rape culture. Don't even get me started on his father's letter to the judge for leniency. In it, Brock's father laments that Brock has lost his love for steaks and pretzels because of the stress that this ordeal has caused him. No, I'm not kidding. This story has hit a deep nerve and is opening up a major dialogue about rape and consent, as it should! The rape statistics themselves are flabbergasting!

Adults

  • About 20 million out of 112 million women (18.0%) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime. 12
  • Only 16% of all rapes were reported to law enforcement. 12
  • In 2006 alone, 300,000 college women (5.2%) were raped. 12
  • Among college women, about 12% of rapes were reported to law enforcement. 12
  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey on the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking found:
    • 81% of women who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short- or long-term impacts. 18
    • About 35% of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults, compared to 14% of women without an early rape history. 18
    • 28% of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger. 18
Many times sexual violence takes on too many shades of grey. What was the situation? What was the intent? Is this a good person or a rapist? What is the victim like? Did this person bring on this treatment somehow? But following this story has made rape a pretty black and white matter. Was there consent or not? We have all learned the "good guys" can be rapists too. I have had more than a few friends open up to me since this story has broken that they too have had an experience with their very own "Brock Turners". Sadly, like countless others victims, they felt powerless and equally at fault for their assaults. Even more tragic is that their stories didn't end with Swedish heroes on bicycles. They ended with invisible wounds that haunt, even decades later.

Here is the story of a friend who opened up in light of this news story:

"I haven’t shared this story with many. If I’m honest, it wasn’t until the Stanford Rape that I googled “sexual assault” just to make sure that’s what happened to me. It was never referred to as that, and to this day, I knew I wasn’t making something out of nothing. Sexual Assault doesn’t always look like it does in the movies where you are dragged down a dark alley way. Sometimes, it looks like the elementary school boy sitting beside you in class. Elementary school, that’s when it happened. We were made to sit “boy, girl, boy, girl,” so the girls couldn’t talk. Looking back, they missed the bigger picture on that one. I remember his name and can see his face in my mind. We still had quiet time, lights would go off and heads must be laid on the desk. Sometimes the teacher would sit at her desk and grade papers and other times she would leave the room for several minutes. It was during quiet time that the boy that was made to sit next to me put his hand on my leg underneath our desks. He slowly moved his hand up, and before I knew it, his hand was up my skirt. I was frozen with fear; I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what to do in that moment. The teachers questioned me as if I was making it up, they even said maybe it was an “accident” or maybe I was confused. I needed them, and they failed me. That’s all it took: one adult to downplay the event. I was ready to retreat with shame and guilt. The teacher talked to the entire class the next day and pointed me out as the example. I remember being embarrassed like it was my fault for getting him in trouble.  My mom was the only one on my side. I would see him the older we would get and remember still feeling embarrassed and ashamed."

Child/Teen Victims

  • In a 2012 maltreatment report, of the victims who were sexually abused, 26% were in the age group of 12–14 years and 34% were younger than 9 years. 9
  • Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. 4
  • Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. 1
  • 35.8% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. 1
  • 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 5
  • 69% of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender, or another individual. 5
  • Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.6
  • Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 7
One reason these attacks go unreported is secondary wounding. This happens when the victim reaches out for help and is made to feel at fault. This adds insult to injury and reinforces self-blaming and many times will make that person decide never to share their story again for fear of further shame.

So, what is the elephant in the room (or should I say behind the dumpster?)

Women (and men, let's not forget females are not the only victims of rape) all around the world are just now realising they too were raped. Sounds absurd I know, but hear me out. 
For many victims, the guilt, shame, and confusion of the experience is so overwhelming that in order to minimize the trauma, they take responsibility for the experience. Self-blaming is extremely common among rape victims for many reasons. It is easier for the survivor to take responsibility for the experience rather than to admit that they were powerless. There is also a wide held myth that if a person is unable to prevent a rape that they did not try hard enough. “Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.” ― S. Kelley Harrell,

Here are a few classic self-blamimg lines:

  • "I shouldn't have been drinking"
  • "I shouldn't have worn that dress"
  • "I shouldn't have walked alone"
  • "I shouldn't have been out so late"
  • "I should have left his house sooner"
  • "I shouldn't have gone on that date"
  • "I should have screamed"
  • "I should have fought harder"
and this list goes all the way back to the beginning of time.

This is the perfect pie chart for what actually causes rape:

rape

Another story from a different friend:

It brings up so much emotion and makes me so angry how often sexual assault happens.... As I read the Brock Turner events, it made me realize that although I knew I was raped once, I was really raped two seperate times.  I was so drunk and had been mixing Loritab pain killers from some girl at a party. I don't even remember half of the party and didn't even realize it had happened until I was told about it.  I was told that there was a crack in the blinds, and that people were watching and then I had a slight flashback to it actually happening. My youth pastor found out and wanted to know his name to prosecute him. He was 18 and considered an adult. However, I felt it was my fault, and I still have a hard time calling it rape. I was awake for the assault, but I didn't (and still don't) remember much. I didn't want my parents to find out, and I was so drunk/drugged that I just wanted to leave it alone. It's a sad world we live in...people taking things that don't belong to them. Women feeling so much guilt for their own decisions and then fearing repercussions. Due to the fact that it wasn't a violent rape, I still have a hard time even saying I was raped. It's a culture out there, and it's hard to deal with. I will raise my boys to know better. They will not contribute to this horrible stigma. It's amazing how our minds go into such a protective mode that we can look at other's stories from the outside, and it seems so outrageous. You think, "How could something like that happen? That poor woman" Then you realize...That woman is you.  You've actually been through it...There's just no news story about it, nor a criminal prosecution...  (more of her story below)

So in order to better understand rape, let's discuss consent.

Here are some definitions of consent: "  RAPE AND CONSENT  If you did not consent to what happened verbally, clearly and without coercion then this is rape or sexual assault. Remember that: - Consent must be freely given without coercion or deception. - Consent cannot be given when a person is underage, drunk, drugged or asleep. A person must have the freedom to make a choice - Consent cannot be assumed - silence is not consent - no answer does not mean yes. Consent means making an active decision to say yes, an assumption of consent is not enough. - Submission or compliance is not consent - giving into verbal/physical pressure or coercion is not the same as consenting freely to a sexual act. - A person is entitled to withdraw their consent at any stage of a sexual act. If someone wants to stop and the other person does not stop, it is rape. - Consenting to one type of sexual intimacy does not mean consent to any type of sexual intimacy. Just because a person has agreed to something does not mean they have agreed to everything. - Consent is a verbal process - if someone is not sure if someone is consenting or not, they should ask. If a person can not get an answer, they should stop. - Giving consent is active not passive, it means freely choosing to say yes." pandy.org

(continued story from friend who shared above)

"The second time I was assaulted, it was actually someone I had known for years. We were going to a club, and I chose to drive up with a girlfriend of mine because I didn't want to be with the guy by myself. At the end of the night, she and her boyfriend had a fight, and she left me to drive home with him. At the time, I had asked where she went and then told him I just didn't want anything to happen because I wasn't feeling well. Before I passed out on the car ride home, he specifically said "you know I'm not like that, and would never do anything like that." We arrived back (apparently to his place), and he woke me up and offered his room to me. He said he'd sleep on the couch. I remember saying no, and that I would go to the couch...The next thing I remember was him between my legs and saying no and then passing out again. I woke up that morning and could not stop crying. He tried to call saying how he was sorry, and he didn't think he did anything wrong, etc. I was damaged, and I knew it. The tears, emptiness, and shame were too much to bear, and I became an empty shell of a person for days and weeks. It wasn't until I met my husband that I began to feel cherished and worthy again."

Stand Together

Brock Turner's survivor has used her experience to single-handedly give countless sexual violence victims a voice- scratch that- a mega phone. She has drawn a line in the sand for all the world to see. Reminded us all that consent matters. Shown the world that rape should not be tolerated and has provided some much needed clarity in the hazy fog of what constitutes rape. I can assure you that many tears were spilled reading the letter written by Brock Turner's survivor. These were tears of knowing. Knowing what it's like to want to discard your own body. Knowing what it's like to live on a different planet, deep in depression, and unable to shake the fear. Keeping the lights on and your guard up. Wondering all along- am I worth the fight for justice?

So from ALL us WOMEN back to you, our brave Stanford survivor, WE ARE WITH YOU ALSO.

You have lit a fire that cannot burn out. Sparked a flame of knowing our self-worth and power. As she so eloquently said, "I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity. But it is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to. I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now I am every woman."  51814_survivor_definition “You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren't alone.” ― Jeanne McElvaneyHealing Insights: Effects of Abuse for Adults Abused as Children If you have experienced sexual violence- I urge you to speak up, seek help, and know that you are not alone. If someone comes to you with a story of assault, listen, don't dismiss it. National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE or chat online: https://centers.rainn.org 
These women are not statistics:

Ashley's Story

When is Rape Rape? 

Amanda's Story


Author: Krystle K co-founder of The Snap Mom

krystle If you are still struggling with understanding consent here is an amazing video using tea to help describe it ...