Anonymous asked: Youre my hero
Well thank you <3
Anonymous asked: If I told you my story, could you give me your opinion on if its rape? do you do that? Or know someone who does?
I can certainly do that. There are legal definitions and my work in advocacy and on the hotline has exposed me to a lot of narratives of rape and sexual assault. I also strongly believe in the power of people to self-define their experiences. Feel free to inbox me here or email me at email@example.com
Anonymous asked: Just found your tumblr from the ~letstalkaboutrape. tumblr. com/post/8899708445/resources-for-male-survivors~ posting ...I'm not sure if you had shared Shepherds Counseling Services as a resource for sexual survivors and their loved ones in the Seattle area yet, but the male survivors groups and support groups for significant others may be extremely helpful for many. Personally, they saved my relationship. More cities need programs like this. ~shepherdstherapy. org/~
For my Seattle area followers! I checked out their website and it looks really great. Thanks for sharing, anon!
Anon asked: I was sexually abused by a now-ex boyfriend over the summer and since then, my closest friend, who is male, has been incredibly respectful. We’ve been taking things slow (I was initially uncomfortable being alone with him), he’s encouraged me to start counselling, regularly checks on me to make sure I’m feeling okay, etc. The problem is that when he’s this sensitive to my feelings, it makes me feel like more of a victim. Yet, when people are insensitive, I feel just as terrible. Is that normal?
Answer: Quite honestly, I believe that all ways that people who have experienced sexual violence respond in the aftermath and as they heal are completely legitimate, understandable, and “normal” (though I usually use the word “common” in place of “normal”).
It makes a lot of sense to me why you’d be feeling this way about your friend’s behavior toward you. On the one hand, when you’re healing from a sexual assault, you need people around you to be sensitive to your feelings and it’s really great that you have a friend who is so aware of your needs. On the other hand, when you experience a sexual assault, your power is taken away from you in the moment/s of the assault/s and a big part of healing is regaining your power. On top of that, you suddenly have this identity of “victim” put on you and that may not be a label with which you feel comfortable. That’s then another moment where your power is stripped because you no longer have the power to self-identify and that identity category that’s been put on you reminds you of your trauma. I’ve heard from a lot of survivors that all they want is to be “back to normal” after experiencing a sexual assault. And having someone constantly checking on you can be a reminder that your life is different right now.
So to answer your question simply: it’s completely understandable that you’d be feeling this tension between appreciating your friend’s sensitivity and also feeling like his actions are hurting you. And that’s a tough situation because how do you resolve it? It sounds to me like you are recognizing that he’s meeting a need you have but it’s hard for you because the need he’s meeting brings up feelings you have about feeling like a victim which is a word that is loaded in different ways for different people and clearly feels negative to you.
Do you think there is a way that he could check in on you and be sensitive to your needs in a way that might feel better to you? If you think that his actions don’t need to change, is there anything you feel like you can do to think about what it means to you to feel like a victim? Have you thought about the label “survivor” which some people feel is more empowering? What might it feel like to frame his sensitivity to you through a lens of feeling like a survivor instead of a victim? I don’t really have the answers to these questions and I don’t think the answers to them are simple. I also don’t think you’re obligated to do any of this work if you aren’t in a space to want to do it. But I honor that you’re struggling with questions that don’t have clear-cut answers and I hope that some of this is useful to you.
Anon asked: I’m here because I’m looking for advice about how to talk about rape with men. I was the only woman out with a group of my male friends. They joked about rape until my discomfort caused them to ask me my opinions and attempt to make weaker arguments of their own. I’d say I’m well-read on the issue, but I wasn’t prepared for how insensitive and blind these men were to the reality of rape (one even asked why I was offended because I wasn’t a victim, then apologized since he didn’t know if I was).
Answer: Oh anon, I feel this question so hard. As women who are committed to having conversations about rape while living in a rape culture, it’s unfortunately inevitable that we all find ourselves in the situation you described above. And it’s really jarring when it’s a group of men you consider to be friends because their attitudes are so hurtful and dangerous. One of my thoughts is that people don’t realize that by putting forth those kinds of attitudes, they are contributing to an environment that is permissive of rape. People often think that their attitudes and jokes exist in a vaccuum so when you point out that while they may not be rapists themselves, the things they are saying right now contribute to a culture that empowers rapists and hurts survivors. That sometimes gets them thinking.
I reached out to some male friends who do anti-rape activist work to get their perspectives on it and my friend Ben had the following to say which captures my thoughts and feelings on the matter pretty beautifully:
"In my experience, it is fairly common for us men to view the world as place where we are free to say whatever we want, whenever we want, with no consideration for how those words are going to affect anyone else around us. It is so common an experience for us that we tend to forget that it is not like that for everyone. Because of that, getting called out on sensitive topics, or even asked to join in conversations about them can be tricky for us. We have not trained ourselves how to enter into these kinds of discussions with the goal of establishing respectful understanding of the topic and how it affects the world around us. This is a tragedy for that world around us, but we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Obviously, the resources for this training exist, because with respectful understand is how we expect everyone else in the world to respond to the sensitive issues that we call attention to. I see a lot of men, myself included, value and reward the ability to assert opinions over the ability to understand them. When we spend time trying to change those communication patterns, it often makes us feel like we are working against our own personal ability to succeed in a world that appears to lavish out rewards on the men capable of asserting their power over others.