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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “sexual assault”

In Her Defense

A few nights ago I was reading the comments from an article regarding Bill Cosby. One comment in particular stuck out. It was from a man who expressed his shock that so many women were defending Bill Cosby. The term “so many” is subjective, but I understood his point.

Girl Silenced

In pondering his question, I now wonder if these women’s defense is in fact of “Bill Cosby” the “hero”, or are they of William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. the man. I wonder whether their reaction would be consistent if the alleged perpetrator had a different name, one other than that of “Hollywood Royalty”. Accusers numbered 1…2…3.

Sure, the Statute of Limitations may have run out for some, if not all, but that is not his point—or mine. Accusers numbered 4…5…6. Do we as a society truly value women or is her worth limited to “sex”? After all, marketers have proven that sex sells and she is often the seller to corporations’ net delight.

As I sit here, I am wondering, “Do we as a society truly not understand how money and power can silence a voice?” A governmental survey, specifically the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, cites that 1 in 5 women surveyed said she had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point. It also states that nearly 2 million women are raped each year. Furthermore, the survey found what many may have suspected, that sexual violence affects women disproportionately. With a societal problem this egregious, why is she still selling sex? Accusers numbered 7…8…9.

Images are powerful. They can trick people into being afraid of someone whose skin complexion is different. They can have you walk pass a dirty person who is begging for food without giving him a glance. They can have you question the wardrobe of a woman, a woman who has been raped. Accusers numbered 10…11…12.

I do not know if William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. is guilty or innocent, but I will not be another barrier for these women to overcome to have a voice. Accusers numbered 13…14…15…and so on and so forth? I am listening. Are you?

The Silence Of Sexual Assault

The woman on my right had been a victim of sexual assault. The woman on my left had been a victim of sexual assault. Both were victims of sexual assault before the age of 15.

Girl Silenced

There I sat, listening to these women talk about this commonality and I wondered how many women I come in contact with who have been victimized in this way. According to a Survey done by the National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 1 in every 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That is approximately 17.7 American women. Likewise, a Survey done by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families in 1995 cited that local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children (noting, 75% were girls) who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse. Thinking about the number of cases that go unreported, I would not be surprised if these numbers are in fact significantly higher. After all, there I sat in between two women. One admitted to never telling anyone about this experience until then.

We need to do more to protect girls. They are being placed in situations that are literally designed to kill their essence. Trust, innocence, and safety are being stolen from them, leaving them wounded and angry. Adults who are supposed to protect them, do not. The shame and guilt, the pain and hurt, the shock leave girls who turn into women silent. The crime, when unaddressed, leaves her spirit broken and creates a societal setup in which these women who were once girls are now mothers of girls—girls who are at risk of history repeating itself.

NOTE: National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE or 1-800-656-4673.

Train’s Tracks

I was in my early 20’s when a friend shared with me that while in college she had “trains” ran on her. A “train” is when a person is engaged in a continuous occurrence of sex with one partner, followed by another partner, followed by another partner, and so on and so on. My friend said that in her case, those partners were in a well-known fraternity. You guessed it. She said she was in its “sister” organization, although not a traditional sorority.

You can imagine my shock as my mind worked to decipher what she was saying. There I stood, with few words to offer, unsure as to if she wanted to hear any of them anyway. Her pain-stricken eyes told me her story was all too real. I could only hope that my reaction was the appropriate one.

“Why did she tell you that,” you ask?

At some point she discovered the hierarchy amongst the guys in the fraternity. She identitied the one the rest seemed to follow. She knew if she became his girl, she would find protection. She wanted so desperately to be a part of the group, to go to parties, to have friends, to feel accepted. She convinced herself that life would be better if she would just go with it. Isn’t this what college life is about? She was getting decent grades like she told her mother she would. She was in a sorority, although a non-traditional one. The other women in that sorority were agreeing to have “trains” done on them. Women before her had done it and women after her would continue it. If it was wrong, she wondered, wouldn’t someone had stopped it? Wouldn’t someone speak out? College was only four years, she told herself, only four years.

Sen. Gillibrand Quote

Unfortunately for her, her protector was still calling long after graduation. She longed to create a new life for herself, one of which she could be proud. In college, she said she felt pressured to consent. Time had passed, but things had not changed. As my friend explained herself, the sadness behind her smiles now made sense. What could she do about it now? She felt obligated to this guy. Obligated.

The summer before I left for college, my mother had a lot of conversations with me about college. I still remember the warnings she gave me—none of which were close to “Beware of ‘trains’.” I probably would have looked at her like she was crazy if that was on the list, but after hearing my friend’s story parents should add it. Far too many young women are entering into colleges and universities unprepared for the dangers that target them because they are females. Families are so happy that their daughters are college-bound that many conversations are missed in between planning the actual move and gathering the items to take. As a result, many young women are released into a world that could not care less about their naivety or their low self-esteem.

I wished my friend told her parents when she first became uncomfortable. I could only imagine that they would have wanted the truth to be that their daughter could tell them anything. Her shame, however, took that option away. Law enforcement nor her college was alerted because she was freely agreeing to the sexual acts, or was she?

Silence would keep each year’s recruitment of young women in tact. Each one initially feeling special by the fraternity’s adoption. Each one striving to graduate and begin professions. Each one being left with a lifetime scars. Each one, feeling obligated.

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