Each time there is a story about sexual violence in the media we can look forward to rape myths emerging from the cracks of the wall. Unfortunately, that is triggering for millions of Survivors. Still, there is one benefit.
We get to address the ever pervasive rape myths that clog our progress. It helps me to think of it as a societal detox. Once we detox we can change our ways and become healthier.
This time the accused is Hollywood film executive.Harvey Weinstein.
Old Faithful Rape Myth
Very early on the old faithful rape myth: Women who present themselves in certain sexually suggestive ways are asking for it came oozing out.
Truth: There is no “rape me” uniform. People who are sexually violated are not “asking for it”. But it seems that after decades of discussion, most people knew this to be a falsehood. Donna Karan, the person who allegedly said it, quickly said it was “taken out of context”.
Male Rape Myth
Actor Terry Crews came forward to with his account of being groped at an event two years ago by a Hollywood executive.
RM: Rape and sexual assault doesn’t happen to men because they are stronger and able to defend themselves.
Truth: Men CAN Be and ARE victims of rape and sexual assault.
Terry Crews mentioned something about restraining himself at the time. I can only imagine the headlines and possible assault charges that could be launched against Crews had he reacted differently. He is a former football player who is 6’3 and weighs about 245lbs. Nearly all of that has to be muscle. And, he is black.
There are small statured housewives serving life sentences right now for killing horrifically abusive husbands, fathers, and brothers. Does one really believe that large black Terry Crews ever had a chance in our fatally flawed criminal justice system?
Does one really think that he had any hope of generating large-scale compassion and understanding that would not include misogynistic and homophobic rationalizations?
For most rape myth account holders, nothing short of a retaliatory gladiator style beat down will ever be proof that someone was sexually violated. These are the folks who will always tell you what “they would do” in that situation, except unless it happens to them, they are just using their imagination.
While physical brawn and strength play a part in sexual violence prevention, it isn’t the deciding factor.
RM: Men who are the targets of sexual violence are gay.
Truth: So what do victims of other crimes “become” when targeted? Being the target of sexual violence makes one a victim, not gay.
Rape Myth and Accountability
RM: Survivors owe society an immediate report and accounting of any and all sexual violations. Meanwhile accused perps needn’t lift a finger.
Truth: Survivors MUST prioritize their physical and mental well being. It takes an extreme amount of work, time, focus, effort, creativity, and money to survive.
Survivors owe everything to themselves. When it comes to dealing with sexual violation, you know-what was done to US-WE owe strangers nothing.
What Survivors Owe?
RM: Survivors owe society names, dates, times, and followup answers to all invasive “Why” questions.
Truth: Survivors are among the most powerful, courageous, and inspiring beings on earth. WE owe you nothing.
RM: Survivors who share their stories are “attention seeking”. Survivors who share certain details while keeping others private are “attention seeking.”
Truth: One of the most powerful healing tools Survivors have at our disposal are our stories.
Stories can alert and warn other potential victims.
Stories can awaken sleeping communities and spur them to take new actions towards keeping people safer in the future.
Stories let other Survivors know that they are not alone. Stories help other Survivors to heal. Stories can validate the experiences of other Survivors.
Stories are a valiant act of bravery. In spite of everyone around you, telling you in some form or fashion to remain silent, you speak.
In spite of cultural norms, or a grotesque family/ cultural history with sexual violence pressuring you to remain silent, you speak.
In spite of the residue of shame, guilt without fault, and sadness you still have the nerve and the audacity to speak.
That’s pretty bad ass.
Superhuman, if you will.
The perfect description of most Survivors. Whether or not we choose to tell part of the story, tell the story ten years later, or never tell the story- WE are Survivors
The fact that WE speak about sexual violence isn’t the problem here. Sexual violence is the problem.
You know, it takes strength, endurance, hard work and perseverance just to heal from sexual violence. When people choose to do more, applause and admiration to them. But, Survivors don’t owe non-loved ones, non-friends, and non-factors anything.
No one asks victims of home invasion, victims of carjacking, victims of robbery victims, or victims of near death assault anything. Why victims of sexual violence?
Is it because we have had our safety and bodies invaded one time that you think the gates are still open and you are free to pass through?
WE speak for ourselves as individuals.
WE speak to other Survivors.
WE speak in the hopes of bringing about hope, change, and healing.
At all times, whether we speak or not, we are powerful, courageous and inspiring.
That’s the end.
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