Monday, March 17, 2014

On Sexual Abuse

**Trigger Warning**: Discussion of sexual abuse, misconduct, and rape. If you'd like to read on, click "Read More".

This afternoon, as I was sitting in my newly arranged office working on some homework and catching up with the blogs I read on a regular basis, I came across a post on one of my favorite YouTubers, Nerimon, coming to a realization that he has committed sexual misconduct in the past. He realizes that not only no means no, and that he may have manipulated some of his previous partners into being sexually involved with him. Though it's terrible that it took him until after the fact to realize it, I totally commend him for realizing his missteps and to acknowledge the fact that he was wrong instead of denying it like so many people do.

I've lived on a college campus for 6 years of my life now, and while living in a residence halls I've seen a lot. Working in Residence Life, you hear more of these cases than you'd like to, and it's just heartbreaking to me that educating students on what consent and sexual misconduct is isn't more of a priority. I feel like I had no idea what exactly consent is/isn't until I started working in ResLife as an RA my junior year of college, and once I learned the legal definition, many situations of those that are close to me came rushing into my mind. By the very definition, so many people in my life had been sexually assaulted in the past and had no idea. That isn't right - not only that they were sexually assaulted, but that we were not educated enough to really know what had happened. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

This is always a topic I get particularly passionate about because it is so important to one's well being, and yet it is regularly swept under the rug. Victim blaming is a common practice that silences those who have been assaulted. Saying a sexual assault is anyone's fault besides the person who is committing the act and the people that are knowingly letting it happen makes those who may have been assaulted or will be assaulted in the future feel too scared and embarrassed to come forward. That's why so many of these cases go unreported. That's why so many of those that sexually assault others get away with it.

Not only "No" means "No":

- If someone says they want it, but then later decides they don't want it, that's a no.
- If someone has been your sexual partner in the past, but does not want to be your sexual partner now, that's a no.
- If someone is your significant other and they say no, that's a no.
- If someone is drunk/high/intoxicated to the point of slurring/stumbling/etc, they can not legally consent to sexual interaction of any sort. Even if they say "yes", it is not legally considered consent because they are not in their right mind.
- If someone says no multiple times but then says yes because they feel like saying "no" isn't going to work or make you stop asking/drop the subject, that is NOT CONSENT.

There are a couple videos out there on YouTube that describe this a bit better than I can, but here are a couple of my favorites:

I know that this is a particularly heavy topic that has a lot of societal taboos attached to it, but it is so, SO important to keep talking about it. The more we talk about it, the more we'll learn. The more informed we'll be. We need to educate everyone on the culture of rape instead of treating it as "not me, not my problem" kind of situation. The more we talk about it, the more well-equipped we'll be to know how to handle these situations and prevent them when we can.

Please take advantage of the comment section for discussion if you'd like. 
This is a topic worth sharing and asking questions about!

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