Monday, February 9, 2015

Upon Reflection

I just watched Dr. Phil's interview with Cory Batey, one of the first former Vanderbilt football players convicted of rape, and found myself overwhelmed by not just memories but by the reality of the world we live in.  I found myself almost jealous of the survivor, not for what she went through but that there was enough evidence to not just get the players charged but also convicted.  A huge percentage of rapes go unreported, and if reported they go no further, simply because in order for there to be a conviction there has to be an overwhelming amount of evidence to convict.  The "consequences" of reporting a rape (much less identifying your rapist) are often heavily weighted against the survivor, who becomes the victim yet again of both the justice system as well as society.  The general public seems to be unwilling to accept that there may be a rapist among them, and therefore finds ways to deny reality by blaming the victim in anyway it can come up with- her clothing, was she drinking, her sexual history, her hair color, how high her heels were, how did she walk, is she flirtatious?  When I am faced with a seemingly insurmountable struggle (for example, being raped) I tend to switch off emotions and try to deal solely in facts and logic.  I need to understand not just what happened, where and when, but why- Why did he do this?  I begin to sort out how I will handle things by formulating a plan.  With each assault and rape, my plans never included "call the police" because logically I knew what they would do, that there was no evidence or proof of the lack of consent- if I didn't have enough evidence to convince my friends there was no way the police would have enough to do anything but draw unwanted attention to my pain.  THIS IS NOT HOW OUR SOCIETY OR LEGAL SYSTEM SHOULD FUNCTION.  I don't pretend to have all the answers for a solution to the struggles of prosecuting rape cases, but I do know that one of the most important aspects is simply creating a society where rape is not a joke nor is it ever treated as anything less than the deplorable crime it is.  Men talk about the "bro code" and all the BS that goes with that- and I get it, stand by your man.  But what if the former Vanderbilt players had not gone with the "bro code"?  What if even just one of the numerous witnesses had spoken up and said "STOP"- there might have been one less rape, and several men wouldn't be facing decades behind bars.  Not to mention the fact that there would be one less rape survivor out there.  That segways into bystander intervention- I can't help but wonder how many guys saw my drinks drugged, guys who I considered my friends and trusted.  Not to mention the number of strangers who witnessed various things that should have led to someone intervening.  

I shared "part 1" of my story, but have struggled with sharing the rest several reasons, but a big part is that I know there are men out there who may read it and remember, men who could have prevented things from happening, men who told me I was lying or at fault when told afterwards what happened.  The number of men who witnessed various parts of the Vanderbilt rape and said nothing is deplorable and disgusting, even more so because it is not in the least surprising.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

To All of My Guy Friends: Dare to Share?

Lately I have been ranging from frustrated to outright angry over things I am witnessing in our world.  It seems that the more efforts that are made on behalf of raising awareness for rape and sexual assault, the more I feel the enormity of the problem we are facing.  The things that need to change, the things that lead to rape/sexual assault (and thus, our rape culture) are considered "status quo" by our society and just continue to be perpetuated.  More and more women are speaking out, but every woman on the planet could scream for change and NO CHANGE WOULD HAPPEN.  It is not just a women's issue, this is everyone's issue.  Not only are there also male survivors, but for change to take hold it takes men standing up and speaking out on our behalf.  When guy friends of mine learned of things that I have been through (assault, rape, domestic violence), their immediate response was to offer to beat up the offender.  While as a survivor I have no compassion for sexual offenders, that is not what I (or any other survivor) needs.  What we need is for that indignant outrage to be channeled in a less destructive and far more productive reaction.  We need men to break their silence and show their support.  As much as I appreciate my friends' desire to "take care of the problem," what I need is to see them take their rage as motivation and speak out with me.  The article from 30 Men Show Us Who's Really Responsible for Preventing Sexual Assault brought tears to my eyes, and it was just strangers attaching their name to the messages supporting survivors and speaking out against victim blaming.  I know so many great men who support the message, but in many cases it's silent support.  Whether it's working with an organization (like one below) or just clicking "Share" for an article or blogpost (etc) on Facebook, this silence needs to be broken.  Men need to tell their friends when someone is talking about taking advantage of a woman, to let their friends know when they are doing something wrong.  There is no "easy" way to address this issue; it's an uncomfortable topic and there's no way around that.  But the more men speak out, the closer we get to changing the current state of our society.  

So in response to all of my guy friends out there who have asked me what they can do to support myself and other survivors, I say this: Break your silence and take a stand with me.

And to all of my friends out there who have supported me over the years, I say thank you.

Men Can Stop Rape
A Call To Men

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Anybody who looked at those pictures, you're perpetuating a sexual offense," she said. "You should cower with shame." - Jennifer Lawrence

"Anybody who looked at those pictures, you're perpetuating a sexual offense," she said. "You should cower with shame." - Jennifer Lawrence
Men, now would be a good time to choose to stand by women in our fight against rape, sexual assault, and the various other sex crimes. Every single one of you who has piggishly feasted on Jennifer Lawrence's photos or any of the others who suffered this fate ARE ENCOURAGING SEXUAL PREDATORS. By supporting and not condemning you are telling the men who prey on women that it is perfectly acceptable. I have worked hard in the past to focus on encouraging women (and men) to stand together and avoid victim blaming rather than ranting about the offenders. But enough is enough! I know for a fact that quite a lot of men I know have enjoyed the leaked photos, and to you all I can say is I am beyond disgusted- I think enraged is a better word. Most of you consider yourself "good guys" but you're not. Right now your among the lowest of the low scumbags, right there with all the other sexual offenders. I don't give a damn if someone is offended by what I have to say- if you're offended it's because you looked at those pictures. Men it is time to lose the neutrality act: if you're not actively supporting the change from a rape culture to that of a rape free culture, then you're sending a message that these crimes are ok. ‪#‎HeForShe‬

Thursday, June 12, 2014

George Will is Hating

George Will's article (link below) claiming that rape and sexual assault survivors are speaking out because of the great privileges that come with the title has absolutely OUTRAGED me.  I am blown away.  He skews statistics in his poorly written article full of excessive thesaurus use leading to a pompous sounding maze of faulty logic and hate.  Seriously, not only is he spewing hatred and skewing facts, but his article is not an easy read because of the ridiculous word choices and sentence structure (I'm going to get off this side throught now).  So in response to his demeaning and sarcastic use of "survivors" (he put it in sarcastic quotations), I am going to respond in equal tone:  Yes, being a rape survivor has made my life INFINITELY better- you caught me, I have just loved life since I was raped. Perks GALORE. George Will, if the perks are so great why don't you try a day in the life? 

I love the attitude of Katie McDonough in her response to George Will's pompous and idiotic anti-rape rant (article below), very well written and smart mouthed :)  high five to her!

Such ignorance is outrageous and somewhat alarming. The campaign for awareness is spreading, lets hope the truth outshines the haze created by moronic and egotistical people like George Will. We know what happened to us, we know what happens to others, and we know the high price we pay if we choose to speak out. Stay strong out there, the only way to see change is to persevere through adversity.

But honestly, how does George Will's article make you feel when he's criticizing "survivors" (he put them in sarcastic quotations, not me) and claiming that we survivors get special privileges for speaking out as survivors of rape and sexual assault? Or of his comments about not getting the big deal about unwanted sexual contact and groping? What do YOU have to say in response to George Will? Speak your mind and share your thoughts!

Katie McDonough's Response: George Will: Being a victim of sexual assault is a “coveted status that confers privileges” The Washington Post columnist thinks women are lying about sexual assault in order to get "privileges"

George Will's Article: Colleges become the victims of progressivism

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Support Survivors And Salute The Troops: Inability For Empathy Does Not Excuse Lack of Sympathy (Inspired By Hannibal)

So I was just watching an episode of season 1 of the show Hannibal (great off shoot of Silence of the Lambs for those who like Criminal Minds and that genre of crime show), and I hear the line "there is nothing more isolating that mental illness" and I simply could not put off this topic/post any longer.  

Being raped or assaulted does not "give" a person a mental illness, but a survivor's internal struggle and the need for support and understanding from the people in his or her life can truly be isolating.  And one of the greatest reasons is that people around you, even those with the best intentions, get impatient with being patient.  They don't understand why you can't move on as fast as they think you should because more often than not they don't have any real grasp of what you are going through, there's no other experience that is similar.  Then there are survivors out there who are either in denial or have healed in their own way (be it through time, therapy, both, etc) who forget what its like when the wounds are fresh.  This feeling of being misunderstood and hurried is something that I've only heard one other "group" of people truly relate to, and that's combat veterans.  I've found that in many aspects the emotional struggles of sexual assault survivors and combat veterans are very similar (there are also some stark differences, granted), both groups go through experiences that can only be understood by going through them yourself.  I know survivors and veterans, and I have heard their stories and shared mine in turn.  Most everyone has people close to them who tried to be supportive, patient, and understanding, but at some point those people one by one eventually get frustrated or forget to be patient- they can't understand why it is taking so long for you to get over it, "man up", "toughen up", "the world keeps spinning", "life goes on": these are all direct quotes of things said to BOTH rape survivors and our combat veterans.  

What so many blessed people don't understand is that in many ways a survivors life was paused in that horrific moment.  The images, the smells, the sounds, every tiny detail your senses registered in that real life nightmare come back to haunt you at different, and often inopportune, moments throughout your happy day to day life.  Maybe you're out to dinner with friends and you smell a cologne that sends you reeling into a fog of fear and panic, or on a wonderful date and your significant other says a word or makes an expression that shoots ice through your veins.  For me, those have both happened, and lots of other similar situations too.  Over the years I have learned to ground myself by focusing on the moment, asking for help from those close to me, breathing exercises, a million little techniques that have become almost second nature by now; but there are still moments that I am caught of guard and I spiral out of control into a muddled cloud of nightmarish images and am full of fear and pain.  I make it a point to know as much about a movie as I can before I watch it (I can watch Law and Order: SVU and that kind of show, but something showing a rape or domestic violence will at best make me sick), but I was caught off guard when I watched Safe Haven; I loved the movie, but when the full scene of domestic violence plays out it was as though someone had filmed the most terrifying minutes of my life and put them on a Blu-ray.  I sat in a corner of my room with a bat next to me and called a friend to help me calm down because I kept being sent back to the moments that I thought were going to be my last moments ever.  

People who have been lucky enough to go through their life without experiencing rape, sexual assault, or thinking they have had their last breath, simply cannot relate to what survivors and veterans go through.  They cannot truly understand the feeling like you are constantly running from your own memories, that sometimes when you are looking at something in the present you might actually be seeing something in the past, that it's not a matter of "manning up" or "not being dramatic", but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try.  The lack of experience required for empathy doesn't mean a lack of sympathy should be excused.  Both survivors and veterans have gone through experiences that leave deep wounds that, even if treated, will still leave deep, life-long scars.  

So I challenge those of you who are the lucky and blessed to take a look at those around you who are struggling and double check your interactions with them; make sure you aren't pushing their healing to fit your schedule.  I don't know or know of any survivors or veterans who are wanting pity, so when I say be sympathetic I don't mean throw them a pity party- I mean try to understand, even if all that means is acknowledging that you can't understand.  I also challenge the survivors and veterans out there to not let yourself dictate your healing by what others around you say.  Yes, the world does keep spinning and life does go on, but by simply making it through your traumatic experience(s) you have proven that you are "tough enough" and "man enough": YOU ARE A DAMN SURVIVOR.  So ignore the voices putting you down and hurrying you on, do what you need to do at your own pace, and speak up for yourself when you need to- don't be afraid of telling people to stop preaching about what they don't know.  (I feel obligated to say that you catch more flies with honey, but I'll admit that isn't always my approach)

NOTE: There are very distinct differences in what a rape survivor goes through and what a combat veteran deals with, and in some close personal relationships throughout the last decade I have learned so much about both the similarities and differences.  I would not ever dare to say I know what it is like to have been in our deployed soldiers' combat boots, but I do know a lot about their experiences and struggles once they come home.  I have tremendous respect, admiration, and appreciation for the men and women who serve our country, and as much as I hope sexual assault awareness will help bring about a change in our "rape culture" and greater support for survivors, I also hope that our troops coming home can be better supported.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Be Back Soon

I was injured in a car accident last week and am still recovering.  When I am a bit better I have a lot to share, I have had some great conversations in the last week or so and I can't wait to share them.  Hopefully I'll be back to writing in a few days!