In our last blog, we talked about changing rape culture. In that post, we looked at a lot of different factors that contribute to our current culture as it relates to the views and opinions of what rape is and what it isn’t. Who’s at fault and who’s responsible for helping change the way it’s viewed. We left off with the simple thought that in order to change rape culture, we have to first understand it and the mindset of those who commit this crime. Let’s pick up from there.
Rape, or let’s use the broader term of sexual violence, isn’t an easy thing to discuss. To be quite honest, the mere mention of the word rape, sexual harassment, sexual violence, or sexual assault can render a person at a loss for words. Funny thing, as I’m writing this blog I’m wearing my future organization’s shirt that says “You Survived… There is Life After”. Anytime you wear shirts with words on them people immediately want to read it and that’s cool, we want them to. However, when you tell them you aren’t a cancer survivor but instead you are a survivor of sexual violence, they become a little hesitant. After all what do you say? Congratulations doesn’t seem appropriate. I’m sorry isn’t necessary being that you clearly are broadcasting that you or at least someone you know is a survivor. However, it speaks to how rape culture has conditioned us to think that talking about sexual violence isn’t appropriate outside of private settings.
If you didn’t understand from my last post, yes I am saying that at some point someone, some organization has to take the time to sit down with the perpetrators of this horrible crime and ask some hard questions. The question is not so much of who but how and why it’s important. I ran this notion by someone that works with survivors, just as i do, and the questions that were raised were, "how would this help survivors and if an organization that was geared towards helping survivors heal would be apart of this would it appear that we are betraying the survivor." Hum, great questions and I understand how it can be viewed that way. However, here’s why I find this notion vital to the healing process. As someone who never felt brave enough to report either of my own personal assaults, as so many of us don’t, I have gone to counseling and I’ve even had the privilege of being a group facilitator for survivors, one question remained that the person on the other side could not give me an answer to and that is “Why?”. Yes counseling helped me learn that it wasn’t about sex and that I didn’t do anything wrong and that I could live a full life after all of this. But I still wanted to know kinda like little kids, but whyyy. Why me? What about me said this was something you should or could do? Sixteen years later there is still but one person on the face of the Earth that can tell me why – the perpetrators.
So why not start the conversation? I’m not saying the survivor should or even has to but someone can and should. Consider a few questions:
What if...... the person sitting next to you on the bus, airplane, at church, in the cubicle next to you, or in your staff meeting, has been guilty of sexually assaulting a woman but was never reported?
What if...... the inmate that was raped in prison and is sitting in your local Crisis Center waiting for an exam was convicted of rape, sodomy, molestation, etc.?
What if...... the guy you just met online or at the bar, sexually assaulted his girlfriend when he was in high school?
What if...... the actor or sports star you so admire and every now and then call bae, sexually assaulted someone?
What if...... the perpetrator was your brother, father, or uncle?
Would we view them differently? Would we treat them differently? If they admitted it to you, how would you respond? If they are truly sorry and regret the decision that they made and they owned it and placed the blamed on no one else, how would you respond?
Your thoughts? Let’s Talk