Quick Thought #20 – As a Male Sexual Assault Survivor, I’m Appalled by what the US is Doing to Women

Quick Thought #20 – As a Male Sexual Assault Survivor, I’m Appalled by what the US is Doing to Women

I cannot imagine the kind of harm we are doing to female survivors when we tell them they have to carry their pregnancy to term. That they remain in a condition where they have no choice. States, including my own, that have or are moving toward enacting complete bans on abortion with no exception for rape and incest victims are ripping the choice of how to move forward away, victimizing these survivors a second time. Forcing their own desires on the bodies of women.

If your religion is willing to force the victim of a violent crime to continue to be violated in this way, you need a better religion. You need a better god, and you absolutely need a better heart. You are not righteous, you are an abuser.

Why SEL Should Not Be Controversial

Why SEL Should Not Be Controversial

While I’m not an expert by any means, I look at it similarly to how I look at mental health in the workplace. You simply aren’t going to get the best results from people until you recognize that they are people first, and employees (or students) second. That means that they cannot perform their best when they are also dealing with various life situations and struggles that have nothing to do with the immediate work at hand, and we would get better results if we made efforts to support the whole person and not just the robot that is there to do work.

SEL is that for schools. It recognizes that kids come to school with a variety of issues that would hinder their ability to be successful in school, and makes an effort to support them in those struggles so that they can be more successful not only with school work but with the interactions they have with teachers and other students.

But, this acronym has gotten mixed in with all the other things that some parents are upset about and they are demanding that schools stick to teaching math, science, and reading instead. Let me try and point out why this is a mistake.

Trauma Upon Trauma – Reading about Lauren Book’s Experience with Stolen Images

Trauma Upon Trauma – Reading about Lauren Book’s Experience with Stolen Images

As you might imagine these sorts of activities are severely traumatizing, and Lauren’s response in the article I linked makes that clear. I also want to address the more subtle trauma here though. That trauma comes from those of you who will read this story and immediately respond “well she shouldn’t have been taking those photos”.

I want to be very clear here. That statement is 100% blaming the victim. This is the same exact thing as saying a woman shouldn’t have walked alone at night, or had a drink, or a child shouldn’t have been so friendly with strangers, etc. Lauren didn’t do anything wrong. What she and her husband do inside of their marriage is none of our business, no laws were broken, nothing untoward was going on. She was just a wife living her life and she was hacked. The person who stole these photos was the one breaking the law. The people sharing and selling those photos were breaking the law. Save your moral outrage for them and the people requesting to have these photos used to create fake rape videos because she was a rape victim.

Anyone who can read the entire story and walk away indignant more at her for having taken photos that were perfectly legal and a personal choice instead of the people who have violated her are simply violating her again.

The Truth Is, We Aren’t OK and Probably Won’t Be For Awhile

The Truth Is, We Aren’t OK and Probably Won’t Be For Awhile

So, what do we do? We can definitely take advantage of the suggestions made by Lindsey Holmes in that HuffPost link above. We can also acknowledge that without available therapists, many of us are going to have to do the best we can for ourselves and each other. We are going to have to muddle through this, and the only way to muddle through is by supporting each other. No, we are not therapists and we shouldn’t really try to be. But, we can be human beings who care enough about other humans to offer support. Whether that be in person, through text or calls, on social media, etc. we can all offer something to each other. We can all share our stories and our struggles because right now there’s simply no excuse for anyone to feel like they are struggling alone.

Why Did So Many Adults Minimize the Abuse in US Gymnastics?
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Why Did So Many Adults Minimize the Abuse in US Gymnastics?

So, when I look at a highly successful program like US gymnastics, like Penn State football, like USA Swimming, like English Youth Football, etc. I think we can clearly see this. Why be such a downer, don’t you see how much good this program, and the people in it, are doing? It’s probably nothing, just some misunderstanding by over-imaginative kids. Nothing to worry about, look at the success we are having in the field, gym, or water. That’s what this is all about. That’s the important thing. The rest of this will pass.

Except in the case of US Gymnastics, these ladies, and dozens of others, have not simply let it pass. They have remained steadfast in talking about it, making sure they can do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t happen to the next generation and reminding all of us that winning at all costs, is not worth the damage that is done to children who are sexually abused.

They are truly resilient, like many of us who have survived sexual abuse, and gone on to talk about it, share our own stories, and live our adult lives. But never confuse that resiliency with how hard it really is to do. Never look at a survivor who has appeared to overcome their abuse, and assume that it’s ok to diminish what happened to them. It’s never easy, and for each one who might appear to have overcome, I’ll show you 5 who are still struggling every single day. You’ll find many of them in prison, or mental health care centers. Still dealing with the aftermath of their childhood trauma without access to the same support and resources that we lucky few have had the privilege to have. Yet they are all human beings, and they were all children once, children who had to suffer at the hands of adults who were more interested in their own pleasures, comfort, and place in their society than they were to consider the damage being done to these children.

Don’t be one of those adults. There are many ways to abuse a child. Larry Nassar did and is paying for his crimes, finally. But there were a whole lot of other adults who abused these girls, by not taking it seriously, not investigating, and not caring enough about them as human beings to protect them. Make no mistake about that.