Tagged Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Parenting Resources for Sexual Assault

20 Parenting Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness

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Parenting Resources for Sexual AssaultIt’s difficult raising sexually ethical kids. The world moves fast and our kids are exposed to lots of images and information. As parents, we’re at an advantage if we have an open and honest dialogue with our kids about sexuality.

Check out the resources we put together to help you, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.


Raising Sexually Ethical Children

Talking with your kids about sexuality may not come naturally to you. Even if it does, unless you are a sexuality educator, you probably need help getting all the details straight and sequencing when to say what. Check out these resources:

This Woman Just Explained Consent with the Most Perfect Metaphor

“Do you want a cup of tea?” Check out how  explains consent. Just substitute ice cream and get rid of the expletives and the metaphor works for kids, too.

Teaching Sexual Consent – One French Fry at a Time

Sex. French Fries. Kids. How early childhood boundaries lay the foundation for understanding sexual consent later in life.

A Letter to My Son for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sometimes parents have to break tradition from how their parents did it. Read this mom’s hopes about how she can do things differently with her son and develop an open dialogue about human sexuality.

This is What Sex Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

“As parents, we lie all the time. About the Easter Bunny or Santa or the Tooth Fairy, about how long 10 minutes is, about whether or not we remembered they wanted to have grilled cheese for dinner again… We lie a lot. But one thing I never lie about is sex.

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks; I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.”

From Diapers to Dating

Written by a sex educator, this is a practical, step-by-step guide for helping parents provide accurate information and communicate their own values to their children.

Secrets to Surviving Your Child’s Sexual Development

If you’ve ever tried to tell your six-year-old how babies are made or your fourteen-year-old how condoms work, you know that grappling with telling your kids about sex can be a sweat-drenched exercise. But it doesn’t have to be.

This is a one-of-a-kind survival guide that will help you stay sane through every stage of your child’s sexual development.

Top 10 Sex Ed Books for the Modern Parent

Written by the folks at Geek Dad, this guide is for the 21st Century parent, looking to educate children of all ages, including older teens. Each of these books has a suggested age range; please keep that in mind before bringing one of these books into discussions with your kids.

Our Whole Lives

If you are looking for accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality, check out Our Whole Lives.

This curriculum is meant for small groups and has age appropriate programs starting with kids in kindergarten. While written by a religious organization, the curriculum contains no religious references nor doctrine, but does encourage self exploration and clarification of personal and group morals and boundaries.

Survivor Stories

If you don’t have a personal experience with sexual assault (and I hope you don’t), it can be hard to understand and empathize with how devastating sexual violence is. These stories do a great job illustrating the betrayal of acquaintance rape, the insensitivity of the judicial system and how your body and mind simultaneously protect and betray you during an attack. Hopefully they shed a little light on what sexual violence really is.

Even When It is Your Best Friend, It Is Still Rape

A very personal story about the night her best friend raped her and coming to accept what actually happened.

Sexually Assaulted at UVA

A story from the late 1990’s about one woman’s journey through the campus disciplinary and local judicial systems following her rape on campus.

Fight. Flight. Freeze. My Responses to an Attempted Assault

A late night, would be assault and the unexpected way one woman reacted.

Resources for Survivors

If you, or someone you know, needs assistance following a sexual assault, the following organizations can help:

Ways to Get Help Following Assault

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network focuses on education, victim services and public policy advocacy to end sexual assault in the United States.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE or online

The You Have Options Program

Learn about your options for reporting sexual assault to law enforcement.

Love is Respect

Resources for Teens in Abusive Relationships. They provide education, resources and support for helping teens end abusive relationships.

National Organization for Victims Assistance

NOVA is a victims assistance organization working with victims of crime, including sexual violence. They provide information about victim’s rights and advocacy services for victims of crime.

Statistics, Facts & Public Policy

Types of Sexual Violence

One of the most detailed resources about the different types of sexual violence – from the folks at RAINN.

CDC, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and RAINN

Sexual violence statistics in the United States.

Jon Krakauer Tells A ‘Depressingly Typical’ Story Of College Town Rapes

Jon Krakauer, author of Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, talks to NPR about what he learned about rape and the justice system while researching his book.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

A national leader is preventing and responding to sexual violence. They provide programs for use in school settings and have an excellent library for public policy research on sexual violence.

 

Fight Flight Freeze

Fight, Flight or Freeze. My Responses to an Attempted Assault.

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Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I decided to take a break from writing about parenting. Instead, I wrote about an experience I had pre-children.


Fight Flight Freeze. Response to Attempted Assault.

Five guys in a car. Two in the front, three in the back.

My friend and I walk alone on a Sunday night. It is 10 pm.

We knew better than to walk alone. In this particular South American country, where I have been living for three years, women don’t walk alone on a Sunday night when the bars, restaurants and stores are closed. We tried to call a taxi, but it didn’t show. Usually, there is one on the street, but on this night, the streets are desolate. Six blocks we walk. We talk about the academy awards, which we have just seen at a friend’s apartment with cable. These are the days before everyone has a cell phone, internet, and live streaming technology.

A half block before the street dead ends at my front door, we see the car—a red, Mazda sedan. A friend of mine drives the same model. I think it is my friend as the car slows. Gliding close to the curb, the door opens and a foot hovers above the sidewalk. A man suddenly stands before us. There is an empty parking lot to our right. “This is not good,” I say to my friend before the man steps closer. “I know,” she replies. And that is the last sound I consciously process. In memory, the rest is silent.

April is sexual assault awareness month. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 women in the United States and 1 in 59 men have been raped in their lifetimes. Because rape often goes unreported, the statistics are probably higher. While many women fear the possibility of a sexual assault while walking alone in a parking garage or on a desolate street, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that most victims know their attacker. Many times, the perpetrator is the victim’s friend, classmate, neighbor, coworker, or relative. Because victims are still sometimes blamed for the assault, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center points out that “it doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting, no one asks to be raped.” It is also important to highlight the fact that no one knows how he or she will react in a dangerous situation.

childreninhellIn my own dangerous situation, my reaction boiled down to a concept I learned in Psychology 101: Fight or Flight. Basically, my consciousness reverted to survival mode. I stopped thinking, my autonomic nervous system took over, and I ran. I didn’t even realize that I had run until my consciousness returned, and I was no longer standing in front of the man. I was in front of the car, probably trying to cross the street, so that I could reach the one or two bars/hostels open on a Sunday night. My logical mind had returned, because I had a decision to make. Two of the other men were getting out of the car to get me. I turned away from the men, and I saw my friend. She hadn’t fought or flown. She had frozen. The man held her close by the shirt with one hand and was repeatedly punching her in the face with the other. Without thinking, I threw a 64 ounce water bottle at the man. Known for my clumsiness, I could never make a basket or play any kind of sport, but the bottle struck him straight in the head, stunning him for a few seconds. The next thing I knew, I was back in front of the man pulling his arm away from my friend so that he couldn’t pull her into the car. I was in fight mode, and none of my actions stemmed from conscious decision. Suddenly, the man released his grasp, and he slipped back into the car. And just like that, the car was gone.

When my friend and I looked up, we saw a guard from one of the neighboring hotels. “Run! Get to your homes! They’ll be looking for you,” he said. Within a minute, we made it to my apartment, locking the large wooden door behind us. My friend’s face was bloodied and badly bruised, but we were safe. Both of balconyus, even my friend who had received the brunt of the attack, were lucky.

Later, when talking about the incident to my neighbors, I discovered that I had screamed repeatedly for help. They told me that they recognized my voice, and that all the neighbors had gone out to their balconies to yell at our attackers. The guard had obviously heard the commotion and come to help. While I may have briefly tried to help my friend, my neighbors and the guard had truly saved us. After all, without anyone’s help, those five men could have easily forced both of us into their car. I was truly grateful to all of them.

I do not know if men intended to rape us, but the possibility was there. It was a close call that changed my life. To date, I never walk alone after dark. I am more aware of my surroundings, the cars passing, the people surrounding me, the avenues to safety. My friend, who had only lived abroad for a few months, cut her trip short and returned home. I didn’t blame her. She didn’t have years of positive interactions to counteract such a negative experience, and she had been the true victim in the attack. For me, I viewed the experience as an unfortunate blip in an otherwise rich experience. People had generally treated me well during my time abroad. Women, who ran food stalls, invited me to their homes for dinner. People had kindly listened to my broken Spanish, encouraging me to learn more, teaching me with patient corrections, and painstakingly pieced together my ill-formed communications. Others had directed me and lent a hand when I had gotten lost. My neighbors brought me fresh mint, chamomile and lemon grass when I got sick. For the most part, other than a few incidences of being pick-pocketed, I had felt relatively safe. After all, the city where I lived had a much lower violent crime rate than a city of comparable size in the United States. The attack could have happened anywhere in the world.

What shocked me about the experience is that I didn’t have any control over how I reacted. While I had previously imagined how I might react to an attack, that imagined reaction had little to do with reality. Again, because a victim has little control over a crime, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of not blaming the victim. It is also important to define what that crime means. The National Sexual Violence Center defines sexual violence as an incidence where “someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent.” In crimes of rape, the concept of whether or not someone gives consent is essential. In our situation, because the perpetrators were strangers, most people would view us as not giving consent to our assault. However, in situations where the victim knows his/her assailant, the waters unfortunately become murkier in the public’s view.

People not only question the behavior of the rape victim prior to the crime, they also question their reaction to it. In 2012, a Superior Court Judge in California was reprimanded for claiming that a woman wasn’t raped because she “didn’t put up a fight.” Jenny Wilkinson bravely narrates her own rape and discusses her critics, who blamed her for the rape because she had been drinking and didn’t fight back. The fact that her rapist had drugged her did not matter to them. However, even if a victim isn’t drugged, neuropsychologists discuss the complex chemicals that get released in the brain when presented with trauma. This is why police officers often don’t believe a rape victim. In her presentation of the Neurobiology of Sexual Assault, Rebecca Campbell discusses how various neuro-chemicals cause rape victims to have lapses in memory or even act loopy (the body releases its own natural opiates to protect the body from pain). During the attack, as discussed above, the brain and neuro-chemicals can prompt a person to fight or flee. However, the hormonal activation by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenals can also trigger an entire shutdown in the body. In other words, the victim shuts down as a reaction to trauma and physically cannot fight back. This was my friend’s reaction to her assault in South America and many victims’ reaction to a rape. They simply freeze.

If I had never been in any kind of traumatic situation, I wouldn’t have fully understood just how out of control you are. While I both fought and flew during the assault that night in South America, I cannot promise that I wouldn’t react differently in another situation, on another day. I cannot promise that I wouldn’t freeze.


References:

The Transcript from “The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault,” by Rebecca Campbell, P.h.D.

Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month:

Statistics: CDC, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and RAINN

Types of Sexual Violence

Ways to Get Help Following Assault

National Sexual Assault Hotline for the US: 1-800-656-HOPE 

Sexual Consent & French Fries

Teaching Sexual Consent – One French Fry at a Time

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French Fried Consent, Keep Your Eyes on Your Fries…

 

It’s frustrating when someone steals your fries. Sometimes it takes bold defensive maneuvers to protect them. Watch that video again. Those fry thieves are brutal!

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Let’s talk about consensual sexual activity. And French fries. What do fries have to do with sex? Maybe more than you think.

Recently, our society struggled to comprehend consensual sex.  So as not to repeat this confusion, we must raise children with strong voices and an understanding and respect for each other.

Sexual Consent & French Fries

Early Boundaries and Consent

Our newborn baby cries. We respond, pick her up, swaddle, and rock. We listen. The young voice is valued. The needs, wants, desires of a newborn are important. In fact, her innate needs and wants are the same. (Here and here.)

The same baby becomes a squirming 6-month-old. On a blanket, safe from outlets, knives and scissors, we allow exploration. Boundaries.

Fast forward. A toddler reaches for a hot cup of java. Gently, firmly, she hears, “That’s my cup. It’s hot.” The mug is placed a safe distance away.

A toddler noshes on apple pieces pinched between little fingers. I reach for one. He says “No, mine!”

I pull back and quietly ask, “Can Momma have one, please?” Stubbly fingers put one in my hand, closing my fingers over it. “Thank you,” I say. Boundaries. Boundaries, sticky palms and mushy apple bites.

Elementary school. When he’s not looking, she steals greasy, steamy, French fries. “Don’t. Touch. My. Fries! Mooooooom!” Mom reminds his sister those are her brother’s fries. She can ask, but sharing is his decision. What he has is his. What he does with what he has is his choice. Boundaries.

Sometimes being family means “Please, share with your sister, she’s hungry, too.” This is the exception, not the norm for boundaries. If something is given to a specific child, respect the ownership.

For most of us, this goes against our idea of ‘good’ children. We want smiling, happy, sharing kids. We don’t want ‘ornery,’ ‘spoiled,’ or ‘selfish’ offspring. We also want young self-respecting adults who possess and understand personal boundaries and consent.

Smelly Aunt Martha wants a kiss from a pulling-the-opposite-direction preschooler.  At the next family gathering back home, we don’t want her talking about our ‘misbehaving’ child. C’mon give her a kiss. Just alittle one? Please, for momma? Aunt Martha’s gonna cry without a kiss. And, now, we’ve made a 4-year-old responsible for Aunt Martha’s feelings. Seeing the similarities yet?

Just Say No PenHINT: Twelve years later, a peer of that once-preschooler says, “Please? Just do it. C’mon, have sex with me. Prove your love.” She’s said ‘no’ three times already. Just like when she reluctantly kissed her smelly aunt, her weak voice is ignored. The other teen kissed a smelly Uncle Tom and sees nothing wrong with ignoring a voice and pushing personal desires. Where are the boundaries now?

The road to becoming a young adult with a voice and boundaries is messy and fraught with curves and potholes.  First, they must be young ones with a voice. I’m not gonna lie — it’s not always pink ponies and happy skies raising vocal children. People don’t appreciate it and it certainly doesn’t fall under the heading “Children should be seen and not heard.” We want to ask them the questions while controlling their answers. That strong adult voice? It’s needs a LOT of childhood rehearsal time.

No one praises the mom who sent Aunt Martha on her way sans goodbye kisses. Society commends a mom whose children explicitly mind her and nods approval at the mom whose child cleans his plate or gives up a beloved toy to a friend (who later breaks it – you know the story ends this way.)

At the end of the road, everyone wants well-adjusted individuals who both have and respect consent, voices, and boundaries. These don’t happen over night and the fairy godmother doesn’t magically bestow them when they turn 16 — even if you have ‘the talk’ and leave the right books on their bed. It’s a lifetime of fostering the voice, teaching boundaries, modeling consent AND respect.

A story about a girl and a pony

There was a little girl who LOVED ponies. She loved her Barbie-cute riding instructors. One afternoon, the little girl’s foot slipped from the stirrup as her cantering pony rounded the arena’s far corner. She slid out of the saddle, down the pony’s side and hit the ground knocking the wind from her body.

A diaphragm in spasms is scary. Balancing on one bony shoulder and hip, her spidery limbs flayed as her lungs heaved. She stood, caught her breath and remounted. Despite profuse encouragement and bribery, she didn’t canter again that day. In fact, she didn’t canter for quite some time. On one particular day, encouragement became pushing became too much — she dismounted, firmly placed tiny hot pink-flecked nails on her hips andA Girl and her Pony solidly stood. “I said, I’m not cantering.” Flustered, the instructors brought her to me.

I asked, “Will you canter today?”

She said, “No.”

Turning to the young women, I said, “Looks like it’s a walk-trot lesson. That’s cool.”

There was no one in the world this little girl wanted to please more than her riding instructors (except maybe her dad). Only four years old, she stood up to them – unsure of the outcome but very sure of her voice. Later, I explained to the perplexed instructors it wasn’t about the canter. It was about her voice.

Standing up to them exercised that voice. A voice rehearsal, if you will. One day she’d need that voice for higher stakes. Maybe with someone she’s crushed on who wants to do something she doesn’t want to do. I want her to say “No,” just as solidly then. Today, it’s cantering. Tomorrow, it’s something else. Same girl. Same voice.

For those who wonder, she rode months without cantering. Finally, on the quickest, bumpiest, oldest horse, she got her canter back. In her time. Boundaries.

Reinforce Boundaries, Teach Consent

Simple things in daily parenting life reinforce boundaries, consent and respect. A closed door teaches the youngest to knock before entering. Tickling is a another teachable activity – how many times is a child tickled past pleas to stop? Boundaries. My family gives one warning: “Stop tickling me now, or I’ll pee my pants.” It’s funny, all right. Until you don’t stop in time.

As important as having your own boundaries, is the importance of respecting the boundaries and consent of others. No, it won’t immediately fix all of our problems and no parent is perfect. (I’ve been known to steal my kids fries on occasion.) However, with a respectful philosophy guiding us, it’s a solid beginning.

Simple family philosophies help to build voices, respect boundaries, teach consent:

  1. Respond to your children. Acknowledge the cry, the question, the reluctance to kiss smelly Aunt Martha. “I’ll answer you in 10 minutes,” is an acknowledgement. “Let’s just blow Aunt Martha a kiss from momma’s arms,” is another.
  2. Ask permission before taking that fry. Remember,  “no means no.” (Buy an extra order just in case.) If they’re meant to be shared, set it up that way, from the beginning.
  3. Even if you’re an open-door-raised-in-a-barn family like us, the occasionally closed door teaches the littlest to knock before entering.
  4. If friends are coming over, put up hard-to-share toys. Depending on the age – be available to negotioate sharing; the protection of boundaries and the exercising of voices.
  5. If you ask a question, anticipate and respect the answer. We can become more thoughtful of our questions.
Lay the foundation to make embarrassing incomprehension of consensual sex a thing of the past.
About those fries — a stretch to relate them to understanding sexual consent? Maybe. A good beginning to understanding boundaries and consent? Most definitely.

Resources:

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

What is Consent?

Talking with Kids Openly and Honestly about Sexuality

10 Ways to Talk to Your Kids about Sexual Abuse

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

A Letter to My Son for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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Sexual Assault Awareness MonthDear Lil’ C,

Even though you’re only 4, and some might think it’s a little early, I’ve been thinking about your sexual health for a long time.  As a woman, I was always taught that it is my job to keep myself safe. As a mother, I feel it is not only my job to help you keep yourself safe, but it is also my job to make sure that when you go out into this world, you respect others and help keep them safe, too. I want to share a little of what I do and think about to try to help you grow into the best you that you can be.

Things I am doing now to try to raise you to be an ethical sexual person:

  • Recommended by your awesome Aunt Maggie, I made sure that we always (even before you could talk) used proper terminology when we talked about body parts.
  • Starting about the same time, I urged you to always tell me if anyone touched you in a private place or in a way that made you feel uncomfortable.
  • I’ve tried to talk with you about your body in a way that makes you feel good about it, but help you learn that some parts of our body are private. This is a challenge. Your penis is a part of your body that you are very comfortable with – yay! However, I’m finding it challenging to help you understand about keeping it private when you’re not in the house but without attaching shame to the private parts of your body. (We’re still working on “privacy.”) I love your innocence. I love how you do not understand why there needs to be privacy, and it’s hard to be the one to have to teach you that lesson because there is so much not-innocent baggage that comes with it.
  • I want you to understand that each person has the right to make decisions about their body, and you need to respect people if they tell you that something doesn’t feel good or ask you to stop touching them. This goes for you, too. You have the right to have decisions about your body respected (Again, this is especially hard to explain when we have to hold you down at the doctor for shots and allergy testing.), and this might change from moment-to-moment. You know how sometimes you want us to tickle you, but then you ask us to stop? We try our best to respect your choices about your body. We do this because it is so important to us that you are learning that we respect each person’s bodily autonomy. Stop means stop, and No means no.

Things that I think about and wonder how I’m going to handle in the future:

  • Media is not an accurate reflection of the world. Television, movies, music, video games, magazines, and easily accessible online pornography are a part of the world that you live in. Your are a valuable income source for these industries. They are going to show you things that they think you want to see. Please remember to stop look at the real world around you. You don’t have to try to be like these artificial things you see (yes, even “reality” shows). You are real. Your life is “real” life.
  • The “right” things isn’t always obvious, and sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes the “right” thing to do isn’t what everyone else is doing, and sometimes doing  the “right” thing ostracizes you from people who you think are your friends. My hope for your future is that you will be able speak up, and be a leader when you see another person (or animal!) being harmed, and not just physically harmed. Bragging about sexual experience (real or made up), talking about what others have done sexually, to make yourself feel better or for the amusement of a group, persuading yourself or someone else to have a sexual experience just for the sake of the experience, sexting (sue me, I’m old), or any number of other things where you have an intimate experience for any reason other than it being the right choice for which you are ready.
  • Your body will most likely be ready for sex before your brain, and there’s not necessarily an easy way to know when your brain is ready. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is. The best way you can do is have someone you trust and respect to talk about this stuff with. Remember, if you can’t talk about this stuff, you’re not ready to do it. I found the right person, but probably could have waited a little longer for my first time. It’s hard for me to think of an example where waiting longer would be a bad thing.
  • Sex isn’t a part of how I, or anyone I know, determine who is an adult or a “real” man. However, being able to wait until you find the right person, being able to listen to and wait for that person if they aren’t ready, are part of maturity and respect for others. Those things are part of how I define an adult or real man.
  • If a person you want to date, acts tentative or cautious, you will respect that person and applaud them for taking care of themselves To be clear, if you are EVER this guy, you will be in so much trouble with me. I will love you, but I will be furious.

Finally, please always remember:

This stuff is hard for me, too. Given that the sex talk my parents gave me consisted of, “We don’t believe in pre-marital sex, so we’re not going to talk about it.” I’m doing the best that I can. I promise that I will always try to do my best to listen to and try to understand you, even when I disagree. I hope that you always know that I am here for you and always love you, no matter what.

Love,

Mom

 

Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month:

Statistics: CDC and RAINN

Types of Sexual Violence

Ways to Get Help Following Assault

 

Resources for talking with your kids about human sexuality:

From Diapers to Dating

Secrets to Surviving Your Child’s Sexual Development

Our Whole Lives

 

Photo Credit:

Mother Son – Blue Skyz Studios