PROSAF – POSITIVE REACTIONS OVER SECRETS AND FEARS SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE
CARIBBEAN – THE PROSAF TEAM
In last week’s article, we discussed why we continue allowing the shaming of survivors of sexual violence, why we continue to actively engage in shaming survivors. The underlying question is: Why is it ok to blame victims of sexual violence for crimes committed against them? Why does the onus fall on the victim to prevent a crime that he/she isn’t expecting to happen? We can’t have it both ways. We can’t blame women for seeing sexual violence everywhere and with everyone but then blame then when they don’t initially expect you to violate them. In this week’s article, I thought it would be good to discuss Sexual Violence.
What conversations are we having with our children about Sexual Violence in general? I would like to point out that this article may trigger you, it may bring back unwanted or buried memories, should you feel triggered, should your heart rate increase, should you palms become sweaty, please stop, take a moment to focus on you and what you need, remind yourself of where you are, find something in the space that helps bring you back to the present, remind yourself that in this moment you are safe. Part of the healing journey is knowing when to put you first, working on feeling it is ok to do that and taking the time to listen to what your body is saying it needs. As survivors of trauma, we can all be triggered through the written word, learn to listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly. There is no rush to finish the article.
The common solution when addressing sexual violence has been too educate the victim, in most cases a female, on what she shouldn’t do, or what she should’ve done differently. Why are we not educating our men and boys on why they should not rape, on what sexual violence is, on what incest is, on what rape is, on what consent is, on what sexual advances look like and on what their rights are regarding saying NO and feeling like they can say NO. It seems like simple concepts yet many aren’t confidently educated in the area. I ask how many of you have had that conversation with any male/female on not violently attacking a female/male and taking what is quote on quote ‘theirs to take’.
Have we taken the time to explain that once she/he utters the words No, Stop, I don’t want to, or in any way indicate they do not want to continue that one should cease and desist? Have we taken the time to explain that alcohol and drugs are all factors that do not indicate consent but implicitly imply lack of consent? Have we explained that under age means she/he cannot consent and therefore it is statutory rape? Have we explained that clothing is not an excuse or a reason why sexual violence is committed? Why are there not more educational conversations with our young men on teaching them how to respect their female peers and in some cases their male peers as well and vice versa, women are also perpetrators of sexual violence. It has been brought to our attention that males feel left out when we speak out on sexual violence; so I will say here that we should be having conversations with both males and females on not being sexually violent with each other, we should also be having validating conversations with both men and women about being victims/survivors of sexual violence. Sexual Violence is not only perpetrated by males but also by females and is committed against both males and females regardless of age, race. class, religion, shape, etc.
Sexual Violence has been around for a very long time and in most cases our method of addressing the issues have been reactive; let’s attempt to be proactive, let’s design a new approach as it is clear the current one is not, nor has it ever worked for us. Attacking the issue from the top is where we start; we start by educating our potential offenders, we start having the conversations about consent and normalizing asking for consent. We start with ensuring that our boys and girls are aware that they have a right to say NO, that we will not blame them for someone else making a sexual advance on them because that they are not to blame. We tell our men and women that everyone has a right to be safe in their bodies.
NO-ONE has a right to violate that very basic human right. No one has the right to touch or violate their personal boundaries and space. We tell them that wearing revealing clothing is not an invitation to sexually assault someone, we tell them that no one regardless of their position in society or in the home has a right to sexually violate them. We tell them that should this happen to them, we are here to help and listen and believe. Sexual Violence should be discussed to not only educate our boys and girls but also society about their rights. It is not ok for your boss to hold a promotion over you based on the sexual favours you are forced into giving.
Sexual Violence affects us all, I know many walk around believing that only certain kinds of people will fall victim to this crime and that perpetrators of this crime were unable to contain themselves because they were powerless against the way a woman/man looked, or they were powerless against restringing themselves when an individual is unable to consent. The long accept saying that it’s how boys are or how girls are should no longer ben accepted or used. No child causes their sexual assault no child asks to be assaulted not child is capable of giving consent, by that margin; any sexual interaction with them is a crime. Any sexual interaction with someone who can’t say yes is a crime, any sexual interaction with someone who is fighting you off is a crime, any sexual interaction where power dynamics are used as a point of reference is a crime. We should not be excusing or justifying the actions of men and women who repeatedly violate the personal boundaries of other human beings.
RAPE, INCEST are problems that plague not just St. Lucia but the world, these crimes continue to escalate because we have an environment where the topic remains taboo, where people are uncomfortable saying that their husband, son, father, uncle, brother, mother, sister, aunt, etc. is a rapist.
The decision to not speak out, not seek help, not face the crime committed against you, does not mean that you embrace what was done, it doesn’t mean that you are thrilled with the cards that life dealt you. When you are ready start working towards your healing journey and to putting your needs first. Your choice to speak out means that you have decided that you are no longer keeping your abusers secret. It means that you are fighting the shame and blame so many are putting on you and saying, I did nothing wrong, I did not ask for or want this. It means you are reclaiming your voice and your life. It means that while this assault/abuse broke a part of you, that you have decided and started to put the pieces back together. Speaking up and out means that you have let go of all the baggage you have been carrying for fear of shaming the family or getting your abuser in trouble. It doesn’t make you selfish for wanting your life to be better. You are emerging a stronger woman/man.
Should you want to discuss or ask a specific question don’t hesitate to send it in. Please don’t give up.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence, Miguelle James & Jayde Jean
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (UP & RUNNING)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel