Welcome to the Second installment of our five part Collaboration!
This Week we’re trying something new, as we were struggling with this topic on our own. Four of us have teamed up to answer some questions and dispel some myths. This team up is coming to you in five installments:
Monday Was of myths
Today we’re answering questions
Wednesday is more baffling myths
Thursday even more mind boggling myths
Finally Friday we have a ‘What if..’ question that we are going to answer.
Questions about Sexual Abuse:
- Was it my fault?
Marie: No. When you are sexual assaulted or raped it is never your fault. It does not matter how many ‘what if..’ and ‘if only I had..’ thoughts went through your head, not consenting for a sexual act that took place makes it not your fault. Did you ask for it to happen? Did you consent to the activities that took place? If you answered no to either of these questions it was not your fault. I asked myself this question when it happened to me and sometimes I still do, but I have to keep reminding myself that I do not take any blame in my sexual abuse.
Ivybelle: No. No matter what people say, it is never your fault. When something is taken away from you without your consent, it is not your fault. Someone took advantage of you. For the longest time I thought it was my fault that I got abused because everyone told me that I started it, that I wanted it. At first I blamed them, but then I thought “what if I did start it? What if it was my fault” and I started to believe myself. I was lucky to have my best friend around at that time to help me and remind me that it’s not my fault and what they did is wrong.
Madison: No, if you are sexually assaulted it is not your fault.
Q: Will I ever feel better?
Marie: You may, it varies from person to person. You will not always feel as bad as you did right after it happened, but it may never fully go away. Personally I still have a lot of triggers and trust issues when it comes to touching me, which I don’t think will ever disappear. However I can say they are not as bad as they were, and I can learn to trust others and let them in. It may take baby steps but I no longer cringe every time a male is near me and I have managed to have a physical relationship since with a lot of trust building. Having support from friends, family and, if you decide to seek it, therapy.
Ivybelle: Honestly.. No. It doesn’t go away. The memories are still there sitting in the back of your mind. One day you may be fine and the next you might have a meltdown or not even want to get out of bed. You may be angry and push people away without realizing it. You have built this wall between you and the world, you might shut down. You may not be able to be intimate with someone for a long time. You may become more protective of your friends and family. You may always look over your shoulder. When a guy/girl flirts with you, you may get scared. When you drink you might feel vulnerable. You may have trouble sleeping at night, sometimes you may feel like someone is on top of you. Sometimes you may feel like you are being watched. There’s a lot of things that may happen. This constant fear might take over. I’m not saying that this will happen to everyone, but for a lot of people that’s the case. Please, don’t be afraid to get some help.
Madison: I agree with Ivy belle the memories will all be there, and it may not fully go away. But it’s the also the part of us that can make us stronger. I wouldn’t be where I am today if my past was not what it was.
Q: What do I do, or whom do I tell, if I am sexually assaulted or my child is sexually abused?
Ivybelle: Tell someone you trust, whether it’s a friend or a family member, also call the cops. It’s a scary thing to do, but the cops will be able to help you. If you can’t call the cops, try to get someone who you trust to call for you so he/she can send the cops to your home or wherever you feel safe. Maybe if you are scared to be alone with the cops, get someone to sit down with you and support you. The cops will give you a phone number or reference you to some therapy or someone to talk to. Therapy does help. The cop will ask you to go to the hospital, so try to not take a shower after the assault has happened.
Madison: if my child or I had gotten sexually assaulted then I’d so to my family doctor or the police. But in a different situation especially when fear is involved then the only thing I can recommend is go to someone you trust. That can be anyone from friend and family to a social support work and counsellor.
Q: I do not know how to help a friend who has been sexually assaulted.
Marie: Be there for them. Be supportive and patient with them. When you find out they have been sexually assaulted ask if they’re safe, are they in any danger. Ask if they’ve reported, and if they have not ask why. They may be unsure of the process, they may be scared of their assailant, or they could feel like reporting it is not going to help. They could also be afraid of talking about it out loud, in a lot of detail over and over again; or that they will not be believed. Those on top of many other things are legitimate thoughts to think in that sort of situation; but urge your friend to report the incident and reassure them that you will be there for them and that it is a good thing to do. But never pressure your friend into anything, whether it’s talking to you or the police, that’s the last thing they need at that moment. Talk to them about the possibility of support groups or therapy and help them look for that if they’re interested. When someone reports their sexual assault to the police they can also be referred to services such as support groups and/or counselling through them as well. If they don’t want to report it or go to therapy or support groups don’t force them, be supportive of them. You can also ask if they have thought of seeing a doctor for screening (STI testing and such) to ensure their health. All you can do is ensure their safety, and be there for them, reaching out is their job and you cannot force that to happen.
Ivybelle: All you can do is be there for them and don’t judge them. They are already struggling with expressing themselves and they feel like everyone will judge them. Tell them that things will work out, but never tell them to just get over it. Ask them if they have reported it, if not ask if they plan to. If they haven’t yet because they are afraid, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help. Sometimes they just need a little push to help them get the ball rolling. After I was sexually abused, I didn’t report it to the cops or get help, but my mom knew I needed help. She took me to therapy and my therapist gave me 2 choices. Either I go to the police station myself or he was going to call the cops to get them to meet me at my place. It took me a week, my mom knew I didn’t go. She grabbed me by the arm and made me make a report. It was hard, they didn’t want my mom to be in the same room, but I told them that the only way I was going to do this is if my mom joins me. They let her come in but I wasn’t allowed to talk to her. After the report, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I thank my mom and my therapist for it. I still struggled and when I needed a friend the most, my best friend was there for me. She gave me comfort, gave me hugs, reminded me it’s not my fault and talked a bit. It was a relief to know that my best friend wasn’t judging me. Sometimes people need a little push. Before taking that step, make sure the person asks for your help.
Madison: The one thing I needed most after mine attack was compassion. The only thing you can do is try to just listening and supporting them.
Q: Aren’t gay people more likely to sexually abuse children than straight people?
Marie: I hear this quite a lot and honestly, no they are not. That’s like saying girls are more likely to be smart then boys are. It’s quite an outdated, uneducated and baffling way to think. It’s not true and it never has nor will it ever be.
Ivybelle: Yes, I also ride a polar bear to work, live in an igloo and I drink maple syrup… No! I’ve never heard this before but no. Gays are just like straight people, there’s no need to label people. Anyone can be a rapist, gay, straight, transgender, etc..
Madison: No, Being gay does not automatically mean you will sexually abuse a child. People who sexually assault children struggle with something more the sexual identity. I don’t think it matters if you are straight, gay, bi sexual, lesbian when it comes down to it anyone could be anyone.
Q: Can I be sexually assaulted by my boyfriend, girlfriend, friend or acquaintance?
Marie: I cannot say this enough, without consent it is sexual assault. It does not matter what your relationship with the person is you still have to give consent for it to be a sexual act.
Ivybelle: Yes. I know this can be confusing for a lot of people… “He’s my boyfriend, they can’t rape me.” Yes there is. If you tell your boyfriend, girlfriend, friend or whoever else that you are not in the mood or no and the person is still being pushy about it – it is rape. Whether you are married or not, if you don’t want it and they force it, it is rape. It’s something that not a lot of people mention but yes it does happen. If there’s no consent, it’s rape.
Madison: not every person get raped or assaulted by their partners but it can happen. As soon as you say no and your partner does not stop it is consider assault/rape. Doesn’t matter who it may be, as soon as you say no it means no.
We’d love to hear your opinion on this what if question and if to you there is still consent.
“Q: What if someone verbally consented to a sexual act, whether it was kissing, taking their shirt off, or having sex, but later, when they were in bed and making out, felt unsure and only said yes because the other person was pressuring them? Would you still consider that consent?”
We’ll be sharing our opinions on this on Friday!
Thank you for reading!
Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow for more. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment leaving your opinion on any of these questions, our responses or any questions you may have. If you can think of a myth or question you’ve heard and haven’t seen here please don’t be shy and leave it in the comments.
Marie Olsson, Madison Taylor, Ivybelle Teller, and Lynn Rascal