Stopping Sexual Assault: A Guide for Men and Women
I normally like to have nice introductions that lead in to the main post, but this topic is so far under the radar that any attempt to nicely summarize the issue would be futile. Recently, I learned that a friend of mine was a survivor sexual assault. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard similar stories and I am tired of this issue being swept under the rug. So because I consider myself an ally in the fight against sexual violence towards women, I made a list that will help both men and women combat this issue. We have to get back to basics fam.
I normally like to have nice introductions that lead in to the main post, but this topic is so far under the radar that any attempt to nicely summarize the issue would be futile. Recently, I learned that a friend of mine endured sexual assault. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard similar stories and I am tired of this issue being swept under the rug. So because I consider myself an ally in the fight against sexual violence towards women, I made a list that will help both men and women combat this issue. We have to get back to basics fam.
1) If you think engaging in sexual assault is OK if you are drinking stop it. Drinking does not excuse your behavior in much the same way you shouldn’t drink and drive. But on a deeper level, for any man that would use this lame excuse, just know that you if you were drunk as you claim to be, you would either be passed out or in the hospital. Because really drunk folks cannot hold conversation, drive home, actually get in their house, and plot to take advantage of a woman. I’m yawning fellas because the drunk excuse is real tired.
2) No doesn’t mean yes. No woman desires to be sexually assaulted. But if you are of the childish mindset that no means yes, let me hip you to some game. If a woman wants to have sex with you, you’ll know. Now if that is too difficult for you, then before you take it to that level, ask the person you are with, “Are you sure you want to do this? Because if you don’t that’s cool.” This way, you can cut through all the pillow/double talk and give yourself a small level of reassurance that your encounter was truly consensual.
3) I’m yawning at what I label as the “at least clause.” Here is an example of the at least clause at work.
John: Man, she was actin’ like she wanted me to make the first move but once I started putting it down, she started trippin’.
Bob: John, that sounds a little weird man. Plus I saw her today and it seemed like she was crying.
John: I don’t know what she’s crying for, I mean at least I ain’t rape the girl!
I am sure you can think of many variations of the “at least clause,” but 99% of the time, this clause is flawed because the person using it tries to justify their actions because at least it is better than what could be the worst possible outcome. But when it comes to sexual assault, not “entering” someone does not spell out your innocence. In fact, you are just as morally wrong as the dude who actually does enter a woman. As a general rule, it is always better to see how far away you can stay from the edge rather than trying to see how close you can get without falling off.
4) Being horny explains only a small part of men’s engaging in sexual assault. Engaging in this behavior is a sign of deeper psychological and emotional issues that MUST be worked out. Only thinking of this issue in terms of sex itself misses the point by a long shot.
5) Being able to empathize with women is difficult, but it is necessary to help you become an ally in helping to end sexual assault. Now imagine a dude bigger than Shaq forcing himself on you, knowing that no matter how loud you scream, he is going to forcefully enter you and then threaten to beat you down if you tell anyone what happened. I am under no illusion that there is an adequate comparison for women being sexually assaulted but for men to have at least some idea of what it could be like is a step in the right direction because empathy has always been a critical catalyst in the fight for positive change
6) Stop thinking it can’t be you. I think it is better to think that it won’t be you. And here’s why. When you act like something is beyond you, this in and of itself does not remove it from the real of possibilities. Domestic abuse is a good example for comparison. Most young men think, “I could never hit a woman,” so when they end up hitting their wives, they end up having a nervous breakdown because they didn’t think it was possible for them to do so. On the other hand, when you say you won’t do something, it requires you to be educated on that trait so that you can take the proper steps to safeguard your standards. I remember Mark Cuban in an interview saying something to the effect that, “Most people have the will to win, but few have the will to prepare to win.” So just because you have the will to not commit sexual assault, you have to constantly examine yourself and be honest with your shortcomings so that you can nip problems in the bud before they get out of hand.
7) Know the facts and the laws. Let me stay here for a minute because we all know that any substantive debate about who is the best player or team in a given sport would not be complete without having a vast array of statistics in the clip. Now apply this same logic to discussing sexual assault and think of the positive ramifications.
8) I always thought that when sexual assault was tied back to a man’s sister/daughter/mother; this would be enough for men to realize that every victim of sexual assault is someone’s sister or daughter. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but I will continue to use this example because like Garlin discussed earlier, we shouldn’t wait until something bad happens to our family before we decide to care about certain issues.
9) Sexually explicit jokes are not funny. If you are in a situation where someone says an inappropriate joke, speak up and let it be known that the joke is not funny. But don’t just leave it there because if you get backlash, explain how jokes like that make people take light of rape and sexual assault.
10) Intervene. This one is real touchy because often times in the rush of the moment, reason takes a backseat to adrenaline. This is not wise because you can seriously put yourself in danger trying to do the right thing. For example, a couple weeks ago in Detroit, a man tried to help a woman who was being assaulted and ended up being shot dead. So if you are in a situation where you don’t know the people, “yell at them, tell them you’ve called the police, or call 911 if you know that others are within ear shot.”
However, a far more effective approach would be for families to rally around women in their family who have been assaulted. Now I know it’s not easy but what happens to day where a woman could be in a bad situation and she could say, “Wait til I tell my cousins,” and dudes knew what time it was? Fellas, we are those “cousins” that the women in our family should be able to call on to help them out of an abusive situation.
1) Stop getting wasted with dudes, especially when you don’t know the dude that well. Does this mean you can’t drink? Of course not, but I pray that if you do drink, you know your limits.
2) If you are at the club with a group of your girls, don’t let your friend just disappear. And if your girl stepped aside to talk to a dude for a long time, occasionally just go up to her and just talk about anything. You don’t have to stay long, but at least that lets the guy know that your girl is not alone.
3) This is a touchy one, but I hate being told stories of rape/sexual assault only to have the woman not tell me who the guy is. I know there are justified reasons for not doing so, but what gets me upset is that if this guy has violated 10 women that don’t say anything, what public pressure will he get to stop if he keeps the secret and each rape/sexual assault survivor keeps the secret? I don’t know how to address this one, but I am more than open to suggestions.
4) If you are a survivor of rape/sexual assault, I highly encourage you to talk to someone you trust about it, whether it be family, friends, or professional help. Ladies, correct me if I’m wrong but I think that by talking about it, you gain the strength to make the mental and emotional transition from victim to survivor.
5) Stop thinking it can’t happen to you. This vicious problem is no respect of socioeconomic factors, race, attractiveness, etc.
6) I encourage all the women I know to be constantly aware of basic self-defense moves if they are ever in a situation where they have to fight off a guy. And packing some Mace along with the Mac wouldn’t hurt either.
7) Even if you feel like you have lead a dude on, YOU DON’T OWE HIM ANYTHING. But let’s keep it real, if you are in a situation where you have been kissing and some clothes have been removed etc., some women might feel somewhat obligated to go all the way. And here’s the rub, the dude doesn’t even deserve an explanation because nine times out of ten, if you are with a person predisposed to sexual assault, he will do one of three things; try to persuade you to have sex anyways, put you on a guilt trip for leading him on, or worse, get really upset and use force against you. One way to safeguard yourself against this is in the next point.
8) Before you go on a date, start a relationship, or whatever, don’t ever be hesitant to tell a dude what you expect in terms of being intimate. In other words, if you don’t want to have sex, say so. If you just want to kiss, then say so. And so on and so forth. And if he is talking about sex and you’re not, then there is a misunderstanding that needs to be resolved. But what happens in reality? People just want to go with the flow. Forget the flow!!! If you are hesitant to tell a dude what you expect, ask yourself why? Because if you are afraid that he won’t be as interested if you say you don’t want to have sex, then why in the world is this guy still being considered?
9) Often times, sexual assault and rape are committed by men who you know or are already friends with. And unfortunately, there is no test you can do that can determine if you are at-risk. Just always be aware and don’t feel obligated to let your guard down.
10) Know the facts and the laws. States differ on how they define sexual assault and as a result, there are different penalties for how people are sentenced if they are found guilty. These lines of demarcation are important because they define what type of evidence you need to provide to actually bring an assailant to justice.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, nor do I claim to be an expert on this issue. So please add to it as you see fit by posting comments. There is one thing I know for sure and that is like you, I am tired of waiting to have these discussions until one of my friends confides in me that she was raped or assaulted. The only way to take the taboo out of talking about sexual violence is to talk about it before the next crime is committed. My prayers go out to men who are trying to reform themselves and the survivors of sexual assault in their physical, emotional, and spiritual quest for healing and restoration.
Let’s get back to basics,
Stay up fam,