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Owning My Own Double Standard

I've been blogging a lot about sexual assault during the past month. It's a topic I think about often this time of year, as I know that college is starting and the risk of sexual assault is at its highest during the first 6 weeks of school, especially for freshmen and sophomore women. 

My previous post explored our social norms that contribute to victim blaming. We all contribute to these social norms. I remember many years ago, two events that happened the same night that really opened my eyes about my own biases; a tragic stranger rape and my husband's car breaking down. Here are the stories, that have since been intertwined in my memory.

I had to work late so my hubby was given the task of attending the school open house and also dropping my boys off for Scouts and picking them up. The parent open house went fine, right on schedule, which gave him about 2 minutes to dash over and pick the boys up from Scouts (and being on time for pick up was emphasized regularly to parents). Looked like a Dad win for making things happen... until he put the key in the ignition and the instead of the motor vrooming, there was a fatalistic 'click' and then silence. A couple more tries and it was clear that dashing wasn't an option. He left a message on my cell to pick them all up at the church, then plodded off on foot to Scouts. Did I mention it was dark and raining and about a 10 minute walk an, by now,  he was already late? A couple of minutes into his soggy journey, a nice man pulled over and asked if he needed a lift He explained the situation and this Good Samaritan got him there relatively dry and not too late. When he told me about it in my car on the ride home  I commented on how lucky he was that this nice man came along.

The following morning my staff read in the paper about a stranger rape; the woman's car had broken down on the road and a man offered her a ride into town. He had other plans though. He pulled off the road, raped her then dumped her into a ditch in the rain. We were horrified reading the article. Then one of us said, "This is so awful, why would she get into a car with a man she didn't know?" We all nodded. We weren't blaming her, but in our collective unconscious I think we all heard echoes of our mothers' voices warning us of the dangers that all women subconsciously factor into our daily decisions. 

Why was my response to my husband accepting a ride from a stranger on a dark, rainy road different than that of the woman making the same choice? I never would have thought I subscribed to a double standard, but the juxtaposition of two very similar incidents made me keenly aware of my own biases...and since then I've tried to consider 
how these social norms color (or cloud) our views about sexual assault. 

"The change has to come from her" to prevent rape

Middle East reporter  Sophia Jones' had a strong response to her alma mater's president for his assertion that college women's excessive drinking feeds the culture of rape. She's right in that the blame for rape needs to be focused on the perpetrator. For too many decades, victims of sexual assault have been questioned, challenged and judged for what they wore, where the were or how they acted, as these actions may have cast a siren song whereby the male's only recourse was forcing himself on her. While that defense has unquestionably kept many from life behind bars (and has kept far more women from reporting) it's a pathetic representation of male character. 

I cringe when after Jones' college roommate was the target of a sexual assault in her own bed in her dorm, she later said, "I didn't ask for this." But she wasn't referring to the attempted rape, she was referring to the way she was treated by the justice system after she reported the assault (makes me seriously question the term 'justice").

Dr. Trachtenberg's response to Jones' letter was equally thoughtful, explaining that his words are meant to prevent rape. Women who are highly intoxicated are vulnerable to predators. This is accurate, there's a high correlation between intoxication and sexual assault....but we need to draw clearer lines:

Accountability

  • Judging when an assailant chooses to rape means determining if (s)he does not or cannot give consent. This is a choice. Whether the victim is intoxicated, was flirting earlier or is wearing revealing clothes in no way is responsible for the choice to commit rape.
Prevention
  • Yes, it's important to teach our daughters that intoxication can make them vulnerable... so they can be safe. Just as we teach them to drive defensively so that when someone runs a red light they can avoid being hit. But not heeding that warning shouldn't be a reason to blame her for the assault or excuse the assailant.When someone runs a red light and smashes into my car, I'm not asked , "Why weren't you prepared that he might run into your car. What did yo do  to deter him from hitting you? Did you want to be hit?" My lack of a defensive strategy, doesn't keep the driver from being ticketed for running the light, nor does it exonerate blame  make the accident 'no fault'. We should all do everything we can to be safe this world, but lack of prevention isn't an invitation to be assaulted.
  • Let's refocus our prevention strategies which have traditionally been directed at the potential victims.  So when Sophia Jones quoted  'helpful' Egyptian police officer whose suggestion for preventing rape is, "If a woman is wearing provocative clothing, the change has to come from her",  I say let's rethink our strategy to let's focus on preventing rapes...  by preventing people from choosing to rape.

"The change has to come from her" to prevent rape

Middle East reporter  Sophia Jones' had a strong response to her alma mater's president for his assertion that college women's excessive drinking feeds the culture of rape. She's right in that the blame for rape needs to be focused on the perpetrator. For too many decades, victims of sexual assault have been questioned, challenged and judged for what they wore, where the were or how they acted, as these actions may have cast a siren song whereby the male's only recourse was forcing himself on her. While that defense has unquestionably kept many from life behind bars (and has kept far more women from reporting) it's a pathetic representation of male character. 

I cringe when after Jones' college roommate was the target of a sexual assault in her own bed in her dorm, she later said, "I didn't ask for this." But she wasn't referring to the attempted rape, she was referring to the way she was treated by the justice system after she reported the assault (makes me seriously question the term 'justice").

Dr. Trachtenberg's response to Jones' letter was equally thoughtful, explaining that his words are meant to prevent rape. Women who are highly intoxicated are vulnerable to predators. This is accurate, there's a high correlation between intoxication and sexual assault....but we need to draw clearer lines:

Accountability

  • Judging when an assailant chooses to rape means determining if (s)he does not or cannot give consent. This is a choice. Whether the victim is intoxicated, was flirting earlier or is wearing revealing clothes in no way is responsible for the choice to commit rape.
Prevention
  • Yes, it's important to teach our daughters that intoxication can make them vulnerable... so they can be safe. Just as we teach them to drive defensively so that when someone runs a red light they can avoid being hit. But not heeding that warning shouldn't be a reason to blame her for the assault or excuse the assailant.When someone runs a red light and smashes into my car, I'm not asked , "Why weren't you prepared that he might run into your car. What did yo do  to deter him from hitting you? Did you want to be hit?" My lack of a defensive strategy, doesn't keep the driver from being ticketed for running the light, nor does it exonerate blame  make the accident 'no fault'. We should all do everything we can to be safe this world, but lack of prevention isn't an invitation to be assaulted.
  • Let's refocus our prevention strategies which have traditionally been directed at the potential victims.  So when Sophia Jones quoted  'helpful' Egyptian police officer whose suggestion for preventing rape is, "If a woman is wearing provocative clothing, the change has to come from her",  I say let's rethink our strategy to let's focus on preventing rapes...  by preventing people from choosing to rape.

Shop, Save and Support DVRC this Saturday


Summer is ending and there's amazing sales. Fall is coming and Chico's has a  great new lineup. Come to Chico's at 329 Broadway in Saratoga Springs Saturday, August 30 to shop, save and support DVRC's programs.


Shop, Save and Support DVRC this Saturday


Summer is ending and there's amazing sales. Fall is coming and Chico's has a  great new lineup. Come to Chico's at 329 Broadway in Saratoga Springs Saturday, August 30 to shop, save and support DVRC's programs.


Gamechanger– Today the NFL Scored

Today the NFL introduced a new component to their personal conduct policy to address acts of domestic violence committed by a player. It's a very different response than the 2 game suspension Ray Rice received for punching his, then fiancée, in the face and knocking her out cold. The new conduct policy calls for a 6 game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban from the league for the second offense. The policy is not limited to only domestic violence; it covers all acts of physical violence.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated,
"At times, however, and despite our best efforts, 
we fall short of our goals. 
We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence ... 
My disciplinary decision led the public to question 
our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood
 the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families.
 I take responsibility both for the decision 
and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values."

While the circumstances that brought this issue to light, a violent assault and the NFL's limp response to the violence, both tarnished the NFL's reputation, the league has achieved a come from behind win with the new code of conduct. They've raised the bar on their expectations for conduct on and off the field, but they've also implemented prevention and early intervention strategies. They'll be talking with recruits and are supporting programs in high schools and colleges to address the issue. They're providing counseling for players if needed. And in case the message isn't clear, they're issuing a memo to all players that states,
Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong.
They are illegal.
They are never acceptable in the NFL 
under any circumstances.

The NFL just scored the winning point with their game changing decision!

Athletes know kids look up to them,
and it's important for athletes to be responsible.
        Deion Sanders

Gamechanger– Today the NFL Scored

Today the NFL introduced a new component to their personal conduct policy to address acts of domestic violence committed by a player. It's a very different response than the 2 game suspension Ray Rice received for punching his, then fiancée, in the face and knocking her out cold. The new conduct policy calls for a 6 game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban from the league for the second offense. The policy is not limited to only domestic violence; it covers all acts of physical violence.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated,
"At times, however, and despite our best efforts, 
we fall short of our goals. 
We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence ... 
My disciplinary decision led the public to question 
our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood
 the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families.
 I take responsibility both for the decision 
and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values."

While the circumstances that brought this issue to light, a violent assault and the NFL's limp response to the violence, both tarnished the NFL's reputation, the league has achieved a come from behind win with the new code of conduct. They've raised the bar on their expectations for conduct on and off the field, but they've also implemented prevention and early intervention strategies. They'll be talking with recruits and are supporting programs in high schools and colleges to address the issue. They're providing counseling for players if needed. And in case the message isn't clear, they're issuing a memo to all players that states,
Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong.
They are illegal.
They are never acceptable in the NFL 
under any circumstances.

The NFL just scored the winning point with their game changing decision!

Athletes know kids look up to them,
and it's important for athletes to be responsible.
        Deion Sanders

Let’s Take Down the Black Eye Poster

You've all seen the poster of a woman with a black eye; in fact, it's how most of us initially learned about domestic violence. The photo shaped our beliefs (and some persistent myths) about domestic violence:

  • the victim is always a woman
  • abuse is physical violence
  • domestic violence is as easy to spot as just looking at someone's face.
While that poster brought about awareness, I'm not a fan of that poster because it limits our understanding of this complex issue. If DVRC had a dollar for every time someone has said, "I'm not sure if I should even be calling, I've never been hit", well, we'd have a boatload more money to support prevention and outreach services. Often the people who say that line, will then go on to tell us about a very controlling and abusive relationship... but they're not sure it's domestic violence... because it doesn't meet our image of violence. 

What they describe is emotional abuse that permeates every waking moment, every decision, every action, even their very thoughts. They often feel they're living their life as if walking on eggshells, but they've never come for help because that poster wasn't about this  type of abuse. It's emotional abuse... it's very common... and it's equally (if not more) damaging than that stereotypical black eye.

So how do we recognize emotional abuse? Dr Kristen Davin outlines 12 Unmistakable Signs You're Dating an Emotional Abuser:

Here are some common signs of emotional abuse (though not exhaustive):
  1. 1.Putting you down — in private, but often in public. This is their attempt to shame you. Projecting their feelings of low self-worth on to you.
  2. 2.Embarrassing you in public.
  3. 3. Blaming you for their abusive and unhealthy behaviors. Using the "if, then" trick. "If" you don't do this, "then" I won't do that.
  4. 4. Threatening to harm you or your family often.
  5. 5. Calling you derogatory names many times.
  6. 6. Making you feel bad or guilty when you don't consent to sexual activity. Laying guilt on you that you "should" be doing this, and if you really loved me, you would be having sex with me. Or "I will have to find it elsewhere."
  7. 7. Gaslighting. A form of psychological abuse where false information is presented to their victim to make them doubt their decisions, perceptions and judgements in their attempt to make you seem "crazy."
  8. 8. Making you feel like you are always doing something wrong.
  9. 9.. Isolating you from your family and friends. Playing victim when you want to spend time with family and friends. Saying "we" never spend time together. "If you loved me, you would want to spend time with me."
  10. 11. If you do go out, making multiple demands on you through numerous texts and phone calls.
  11. 11. Stalking you.
  12. 12. Threatening suicide when you attempt to break up with them: "I can't live without you; I will kill myself if you break up with me."
If you or someone you know
 is experiencing any form of relationship abuse, 
you are not alone, call for help now. 
Call 518-583-0280 for an appointment with an advocate...
or call DVRC's 24 hour hotline at 518-584-8188 

Let’s Take Down the Black Eye Poster

You've all seen the poster of a woman with a black eye; in fact, it's how most of us initially learned about domestic violence. The photo shaped our beliefs (and some persistent myths) about domestic violence:

  • the victim is always a woman
  • abuse is physical violence
  • domestic violence is as easy to spot as just looking at someone's face.
While that poster brought about awareness, I'm not a fan of that poster because it limits our understanding of this complex issue. If DVRC had a dollar for every time someone has said, "I'm not sure if I should even be calling, I've never been hit", well, we'd have a boatload more money to support prevention and outreach services. Often the people who say that line, will then go on to tell us about a very controlling and abusive relationship... but they're not sure it's domestic violence... because it doesn't meet our image of violence. 

What they describe is emotional abuse that permeates every waking moment, every decision, every action, even their very thoughts. They often feel they're living their life as if walking on eggshells, but they've never come for help because that poster wasn't about this  type of abuse. It's emotional abuse... it's very common... and it's equally (if not more) damaging than that stereotypical black eye.

So how do we recognize emotional abuse? Dr Kristen Davin outlines 12 Unmistakable Signs You're Dating an Emotional Abuser:

Here are some common signs of emotional abuse (though not exhaustive):
  1. 1.Putting you down — in private, but often in public. This is their attempt to shame you. Projecting their feelings of low self-worth on to you.
  2. 2.Embarrassing you in public.
  3. 3. Blaming you for their abusive and unhealthy behaviors. Using the "if, then" trick. "If" you don't do this, "then" I won't do that.
  4. 4. Threatening to harm you or your family often.
  5. 5. Calling you derogatory names many times.
  6. 6. Making you feel bad or guilty when you don't consent to sexual activity. Laying guilt on you that you "should" be doing this, and if you really loved me, you would be having sex with me. Or "I will have to find it elsewhere."
  7. 7. Gaslighting. A form of psychological abuse where false information is presented to their victim to make them doubt their decisions, perceptions and judgements in their attempt to make you seem "crazy."
  8. 8. Making you feel like you are always doing something wrong.
  9. 9.. Isolating you from your family and friends. Playing victim when you want to spend time with family and friends. Saying "we" never spend time together. "If you loved me, you would want to spend time with me."
  10. 11. If you do go out, making multiple demands on you through numerous texts and phone calls.
  11. 11. Stalking you.
  12. 12. Threatening suicide when you attempt to break up with them: "I can't live without you; I will kill myself if you break up with me."
If you or someone you know
 is experiencing any form of relationship abuse, 
you are not alone, call for help now. 
Call 518-583-0280 for an appointment with an advocate...
or call DVRC's 24 hour hotline at 518-584-8188 

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