Survival of Abuse and other Traumas

So you made it. You left him or her. You won’t ever have to go through the fear and terror ever again. You stayed at the shelter for a couple of weeks and then they got you into a transitional living apartment where you are safe. He/she doesn’t have any idea where you are. All your abuser knows is that you are laying low. You and your children, if you have any, are safe and secure.


You are starting not to jump at every noise. You may even go on a date at some time again. But you still can close your eyes and see him hovering over you as he rapes and strangles you. He strangles you a little, not enough to kill you. The memories close in on you often when there is a certain smell, sound, when you think someone is following you. Your heart begins to race and you have to talk yourself down.


No matter what the abuse or other traumas in your life, they do effect you a lot. You will never again be the same person you were before. Neurologists say that the mind rewires itself after a trauma and we are never exactly the same person we were before. But you survived and this is a good thing.


Life doesn’t stop with surviving. You have to heal yourself. Some do it themselves, some block the trauma but it is still effecting them. Do you ever notice that someone will say something and you are immediately angry or you feel insecure? Or someone walks up to you and they are a little too close and you feel like you should run? This is all normal for someone who has been traumatized. Other people may not think so but I assure you that it is.


So, the first huge step is surviving your trauma. What about all of the memories of the trauma or abuse? What about the nightmares? A doctor can help you by deciding if you have PTSD or not. PTSD is pretty tough. I have PTSD. It developed after I found my husband dead. It was natural causes, a massive heart attack. I walked into a dark house and found him sitting at his desk in the study and he was gone. I will save you the remainder of the story. I had had other traumas earlier in life and this was the event which broke the camel’s back. I am not telling my story to gain sympathy. I just know how many victims have survived many traumas and it is hard work getting through them. Sometimes people help, sometimes they just stab you in the heart without knowing there is anything wrong.


So first survive, then begin to heal. There are many ways to do so and some will work for you and some will not. I read a quote many years ago, “Once you survive life, then you have to find a reason to live.” I have always lived with that in my heart. There are many reasons. Someone in your life needs you. Your job gives you much passion and joy. Your best friend can always sense your moods and doesn’t leave you alone to flounder. Children’s lives would be damaged if you committed suicide. Your job is to find your reason and declare it to the heavens.


Sometimes a spiritual path can help. Or a combination of several paths can be entwined together and you create  your own path which you have woven for yourself. The key to healing really is to find your meaning for life. A reason to live and keep living and heal and then you can thrive. Thriving would be the ultimate goal.


It also helps to remember that you are not the only one to suffer some type of trauma. Millions of people do whether they are abused, a tornado takes their house, a volcano erupts and covers their village with lava. Some are sold into slavery, some are convicted of a crime and go to prison knowing that they are really innocent. Some are cheated on by their spouse and some are not really loved by their family. Again, healing and therapy will help you to not shut down when the old tapes or the memories hit you. We are supposed to thrive in this life, so climb out of that hole and begin the job. Your experience will help many others cope with what is happening in their lives.


Forget anger, rage, and vengeance and look for your smile so you can share it with someone else. Read positive books. Allow yourself to feel joy and happiness because you do deserve it. No matter what anyone has told you or beat into you, you deserve all the good that life has to offer. You never walk alone and you need to remember that. Build and use your support system. They love you for the beautiful, shining star you are today. Never believe anyone who tells you negative things. Don’t tell yourself negative things. You are everything that is strong, wise, compassionate and kind. You can touch the lives of many people who need a kind word or a smile or an understanding pat on the shoulder.








Smokey Mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Smokey Mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

ISIS Impregnates 9 Year Old

ISIS impregnates 9-year-old girl


The Islamic State remains in control over large swaths of Iraq. Photo: AP (main); Barcroft (top right); UPI (bottom right)

A 9-year-old girl is pregnant after being raped by ISIS savages in Iraq, a report said.

“The abuse she has suffered left her mentally and physically traumatized,” said Yousif Daoud, a Canadian-based aid worker who recently returned from the region. “This girl is so young she could die if she delivers a baby. Even cesarean section is dangerous.”

At least 10 different men with the Islamic State were said to have sexually assaulted the child, the Toronto Star reported.

“Most of them were front-line fighters or suicide bombers who are given girls as a reward,” Daoud explained. “She was in very bad shape.”

The young girl was one of over 200 Yazidi women and children to be released this week after spending eight months captive in the hands of the extremists, according to the Canadian newspaper.

Daoud claimed that many of the women and young girls who were set free by ISIS would be shamed when reunited with their families, due to suspicions that they had been defiled by the militants.

“If they are married, their husbands won’t take them back if they are pregnant,” he said. “And it’s clear that the babies will never be accepted.”

“I don’t know what the future would be for their babies,” Daoud added. “The girls and women don’t want them. They have suffered so much they just want to forget.”

The 9-year-old girl has been transported by a Kurdish aid group to a medical charity in Germany, according to the Toronto Star.

She will be looked after there until her baby arrives.

Blaming the Victim

When a woman gets raped it is an act of control and violence. It is not sexual. Eighty eight year old women are raped…not lust. Rape has nothing to do with where a woman is, whom she is with and what she is wearing.

It is pathetic than some men state they can’t control themselves when they see a woman’s ankle or neck or face. These men view women as property. Some one to be controlled because they are not equal. This must end. Women do not deserve to be raped. They can’t be owned like cattle or chickens. When a human being is experiencing their body being being violated, they will always fight back. It is a crime. Women are not going to just lie there and take it. It is ridiculous to even say something like that. This is a sad state of affairs.


New Delhi Gang Rape Convict Blames Victim For Attack: ‘She Shouldn’t Have Fought Back’

Posted: 03/03/2015 2:47 am EST Updated: 1 hour ago

Delhi Gang Rape Convicts At High Court

NEW DELHI (AP) — One of the men convicted of raping and killing a woman in a brutal 2012 gang attack on a New Delhi bus said in a TV documentary that if their victim had not fought back she would not have been killed.

Instead, the 23-year-old woman should have remained silent, said Mukesh Singh, who was driving the bus for much of the time that the woman was being attacked.

“Then they would have dropped her off after ‘doing her,'” he said in a documentary being released next week. The filmmakers released transcripts of the interview, which was recorded in 2013, on Tuesday.

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he said, according to the transcripts. “A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night …. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.”

The woman and her friend were returning home from seeing a movie at an upscale mall when they were tricked by the men into getting on the bus, which they’d taken out for a joyride. The attackers beat her friend and took turns raping the woman. They penetrated her with a rod, leaving severe internal injuries that caused her death.

Singh and three other men were convicted in a fast-track court in 2013. They confessed to the attack but later retracted their confessions, saying they’d been tortured into admitting their involvement. The appeals against their death sentences are pending in the Supreme Court.

India, where many people have long believed that women are responsible for rape, was shocked into action after the attack. The government rushed legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law also makes it a crime for police officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.

In the interview, Singh suggested that the attack was to teach the woman and her male friend a lesson that they should not have been out late at night. He also reiterated that rape victims should not fight back: “She should just be silent and allow the rape.”

The death penalty, he said, would make things even more dangerous for women. “Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her,” Singh said.

Singh’s interview is from the documentary “India’s Daughter” by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin. It will be shown on March 8, International Women’s Day, in India, Britain, Denmark, Sweden and several other countries.

Indian authorities, meanwhile, objected to the filmmakers releasing the documentary without their approval.

A spokesman for New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where the interview was filmed, said Udwin had agreed to allow them to screen the footage before it was released.

“We want to see the documentary as it can be screened only after it was approved by authorities,” said jail spokesman Mukesh Prasad.

Udwin, however, said she had obtained necessary clearances from jail authorities as well as India’s home ministry for her documentary and for interviewing the convicts in the prison.

“I had first submitted an unedited version of the documentary and later an edited version as demanded by prison authorities,” Udwin told reporters in New Delhi.

She expressed surprise at the jail spokesman’s claim and said she had not received any communication from prison authorities on those lines.


Delhi Rape Protests An Indian protester holds a placard during a protest against a recent gang rape of a young woman in a moving bus in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged Thursday to take action to protect the nation’s women while the young rape victim was flown to Singapore for treatment of severe internal injuries. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)




9 Myths of Sexual Assault

9 things people believe about sexual assault that don’t make any sense


With the recent wave of new rape allegations against Bill Cosby, and the controversy surrounding a Rolling Stone article alleging that a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house went unpunished, sexual assault has been in the headlines more than usual.

Unfortunately, the reinvigorated conversation around the topic has included a lot of stubborn assumptions about rape and harmful stereotypes about victims.

These misconceptions perpetuate a culture in which sexual assault too often goes unreported and perpetrators go unpunished. Here are nine of the most common myths about sexual assault*, and why they’re simply not true.

Myth #1: You can’t trust rape allegations because they’re so often false

There’s some debate about this, but it’s generally estimated that between two and 10 percent of rape allegations are false, according to various studies and interpretations of FBI data — not a very high percentage, and certainly not high enough to support the widespread skepticism that tends to surround rape allegations. The exact percentage of false allegations is hard to pin down because there’s so much debate about how exactly to determine which reports are false.

But really, even if the number were much higher, it wouldn’t provide a good basis for the assumption that any individual victim was lying about her experience. After all, people have lied about having their cars stolen plenty of times, but this doesn’t lead us to question everyone who makes this claim.

The bottom line is that it makes sense to approach individual rape allegations based on their particular facts, not assumptions about what typically happens that could discourage rape victims from reporting the crime.

In one 2010 study, researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Northeastern University found that out of 136 cases of sexual assault reported to university over a 10-year period, eight were coded as false.

In a 2010 study from Massachusetts researchers, eight out of 136 cases of sexual assault reported to a Northeastern university over a 10-year period were coded as false. (Jody Sieradzki / Dadaviz)

In a 2010 study from Massachusetts researchers, eight out of 136 cases of sexual assault reported to a Northeastern university over a 10-year period were coded as false. (Jody Sieradzki / Dadaviz)

“The stereotype that false rape allegations are a common occurrence, a widely held misconception in broad swaths of society, including among police officers, has very direct and concrete consequences,” the authors wrote. “It contributes to the enormous problem of underreporting by victims of rape and sexual abuse.”

Myth #2:  Sexual assault happens because of the way women dress

There’s a widely held belief that a good strategy for people — especially women — to avoid sexual assault is to wear clothes that will make them less sexually attractive to potential attackers. For example, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham has suggested that encouraging girls to forgo “immodest” clothing could help to avoid rape.


But it’s absurd to think that style of dress would ever invite or excuse a crime (Is a man with an expensive watch asking to be robbed? No.)

Experts say sexual assault stems from a person’s determination to exercise power over someone else, not from being uncontrollably aroused by their victim’s appearance. Plus, most of the time, it’s planned in advance, a fact that pokes another hole in the theory that attackers simply see provocative clothing and are unable to control themselves.

Last March, women on Twitter challenged this myth by describing the clothes they were wearing when they were sexual assaulted — jeans, t-shirts, kids’ pajamas, sweats, school uniforms, etc. — to make a statement about the absurdity of blaming victims’ clothing for their attacks. The only meaningful risk factor is the presence and conduct of a rapist or sexual predator.

Myth #3: Sexual assault happens when someone is uncontrollably aroused

Underscoring the point above — that women can’t prevent rape with their style of dress — is this: sexual assault is an act of physical violence and domination, not a “crime of passion” that is motivated by sexual attraction. We know that rape is a crime of violence using sex, not a crime that is primarily motivated by sexual desire, and that most perpetrators of sexual assault have access to sex with someone other than their victim.


This is pretty basic: almost everyone has sexual desires, and not everyone commits sexual assault. Neither men nor women physically need to have sex after becoming sexually excited. We’re all very much able to control ourselves after becoming aroused, if we choose to do so. Belief in this myth can lead us to blame the victim and not hold the rapist accountable for his or her actions.

Myth #4: It’s not rape if you’ve dated or had consensual sex before

It’s not unusual at all for a victim and attacker to have had a previous relationship. Scrutiny of what the victim did before the alleged rapeplaces the responsibility of the offender’s actions with the victim and takes the focus off of whether she consented to the sexual activity that’s in question.

So whether a victim went to her attacker’s home or dorm room, or whether she previously consented to or engaged in some sexual activity, does not tell us anything about what happened in the moment she said she was assaulted. Consent to sex is something that can be given at one time, and withheld at another. No matter what the relationship, or what happened before, sexual activity forced upon another without consent is sexual assault.

Myth #5: Real sexual assault victims go to the police right away

This belief is dangerous because it creates skepticism about claims of victims if they’re not voiced immediately after the alleged assaults. But it’s not true that most victims contact law enforcement, and it’s even less true that they do so immediately after being attacked.

According to the Department of Justice, it’s estimated that a full 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. There are plenty of good reasons a sexual assault victim might hesitate to go to the police: the stress of talking to a stranger about a traumatic experience, doubt that the accuser will be held accountable, anxiety about participating in a trial and having to face an attacker, not knowing that the incident qualified as sexual assault, misplaced shame — and of course, concerns about not being believed. A person’s choice not to report an assault, or not to report it immediately, can mean a lot of things. What it definitely doesn’t mean is that the assault didn’t happen.

Myth #6: Rape is easy to avoid if you stay away from dangerous places and suspicious strangers

There’s a myth that most sexual assaults occur at the hands of deranged men who attack women they don’t know. This idea is perpetuated because stranger assault is more widely reported in the media and to the police than assault that occurs between people who know each other.  But rape and sexual assault can occur at any time, any place, to anyone, and by anyone.


According to a report based on FBI data, almost 70 percent of sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the home of the victim, the offender, or another person. Sexual assault can be committed within any type of relationship, including in marriage, in dating relationships, or by friends, acquaintances or co-workers. Sexual assault can occur in heterosexual or same-gender relationships. It does not matter whether there is a current or past relationship between the victim and offender; unwanted sexual activity is still sexual assault and is a serious crime. So the idea that avoiding sexual assault is matter of avoiding strangers who jump out from behind bushes in high-crime areas simply doesn’t hold up.

Myth #7: If a person doesn’t fight back physically, she wasn’t really raped

The FBI recently broadened its definition of rape to ditch the word “forcible,” reflecting the modern understanding that sexual assault doesn’t always involve a victim who was physically overpowered by her attacker. Unfortunately, some people still believe that women who really don’t want to be raped use all of their strength and self-defense skills to stop their attackers.

CNN’s Don Lemon seemed to endorse this view recently when he said to Joan Tarshis, a woman who said she was raped by Bill Cosby in 1969, “You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you don’t want to do it,” suggesting that she should have used her teeth as a weapon. This “if you really didn’t want it, why didn’t you fight back harder?” position ignores that there are actually many ways that rape can occur, and many reasons it might be imprudent or impossible for a victim to attempt to physically overpower her attacker. An attacker might threaten his victim with a weapon or with other consequences if she doesn’t submit.

This type of submission — often done for survival — is not the same as consent. In fact, studies have shown that women who fight back aremore likely to be seriously injured by their attacker.


In addition, in cases like Tarshis’ account of what happened between her and Cosby (which he’s denied, along with the rest of the rape allegations against him), the victim might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and physically unable to resist. Relatedly, there is no “right way” to react after a sexual assault. Sexual violenceexhibits a spectrum of responsesto the assault. They might be calm, withdrawn, hysterical, angry, apathetic, in denial, or in shock — just like victims of any other crime. In fact, their reactions may be even more complicated because of attitudes toward sexual assault that make them feel particularly traumatized or ashamed.

Myth #8: Only women can be victims of sexual violence.

In another myth that’s fueled by media portrayals, many people imagine that rape is only committed by straight men, against straight women.  But sexual assault is not defined by the gender of the perpetrator or the person who is victimized. In fact, this is another clarification made by the FBI’s recently updated definition of rape, which now has no mention of gender.

It is true that in the majority of cases of reported rape, the victims are women. In fact women are 10 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than men. Still, it is estimated that about one in thirty-three men have experienced attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

It’s also possible for women to rape men. “Often, male survivors may be less likely to identify what happened to them as abuse or assault because of the general notion that men always want sex,” said Jennifer Marsh, the vice president for Victim Services at RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization saId in an interview with CNN. Plus, “males have the added burden of facing a society that doesn’t believe rape can happen to them … at all,” said psychotherapist Elizabeth Donovan.

Meanwhile, some believe that rape only happens to men in prison. While this is a serious issue, it’s not the only place men are victimized. A related myth used to shame and silence male rape victims is that orgasm means coerced sexual activity was actually consensual. In fact,orgasm does not mean that someone “enjoyed” the sex, or that they wanted it. It can be a natural biological reaction that a male rape victim cannot control.

Myth #9: Sex with someone who’s too drunk or drugged to agree to it is okay

There are an incredible number of cultural references — from jokes about “roofies” to modern song lyrics about drugging women into sexual submission — that some might be confused and think it’s a normal practice for men to have sex with women who otherwise wouldn’t consent to sex, but have lowered inhibitions thanks to drugs or alcohol. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an invitation for non-consensual sexual activity.

Under many state laws, a person who is cognitively impaired due to the influence of drugs or alcohol is not able to consent to sexual activity. The act of an offender who deliberately uses alcohol as a means to subdue someone in order to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is also criminal.

A related myth is, “If you wouldn’t have been drinking, you wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.” Consider this explanation from the University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Center: “Alcohol is a weapon that some perpetrators use to control their victim and render them helpless.  As part of their plan, an assailant may encourage the victim to use alcohol, or identify an individual who is already drunk.  Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators use.”


California’s new Yes Means Yes law— along with many college and university policies across the country — explicitly states that people who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol are incapable of providing the consent required for sex.

*Note: The exact definitions of “rape” and “sexual assault” differstate by state. This piece uses them interchangeably and discusses myths that apply to all unwanted sexual contact.

Colleges and schools are required to protect students from sexual assault under Title IX

Title IX is best known for the effect it had on women’s athletics because it required that colleges provide equal opportunities in sports to men and women. After it took effect, female participation in college and high school sports more than quadrupled.

But Title IX is more than that: passed in 1972 as part of a broader education law, it prohibits any discrimination in education based on sex. Schools and colleges that receive federal funding can’t deny opportunities to students based on their gender.

The Obama administration has used the statute to examine how colleges handle accusations of sexual assault. The Education Department sent a letter in 2011 reminding colleges of their responsibility to deal with allegations of sexual harassment and assault that they either know about or should reasonably know about. Since then, the department has opened investigations into more than 50 colleges for alleged mishandling of sexual assault on campus.

Many of the allegations are at high-profile elite colleges:

  • At Yale, just one student found responsible for “nonconsensual sex” in the first half of 2013 was suspended; the rest were given written reprimands or no punishment at all, the Huffington Post reported.
  • At Brown, a student found responsible for sexual violence was suspended for a year, even though that meant he and his victim would be on campus at the same time after he returned.
  • When a freshman at St. Mary’s College was sexually assaulted by a Notre Dame football player and reported the assault to Notre Dame campus police, the university didn’t begin an investigation for more than two weeks. During the delay, the student killed herself.

Colleges theoretically are at risk of losing their eligibility for federal money — a significant threat given the size of the federal student loan and grant programs — if they’re found to be in violation of Title IX . But when the Education Department has found violations of Title IX in sexual assault cases, it has reached voluntary agreements with the colleges on remedying the situation. One agreement, at Tufts University, was revoked in April 2014.

A low proportion of sexual assault victims report their experiences, meaning colleges have a hard time determining the scope of the problem. Sexual assault can have an impact on students’ academic experiences, making them more likely to skip classes or drop out. It has many other long-term effects on survivors, including increased risk of depression, substance abuse, and self-harm.


Is it glamourous to be a victim?

These days there are two kinds of women who are victims. One is the woman who has been sexually molested. The other are women who have been in a battering situation. Both type of woman has been violated. The violation is physical and emotional and mental.


The first time a man hits a woman, she is in shock. She can’t believe this person she loves would have raised his hand and hit her. Hit her so hard her lip bled and her jaw cracked. The pain is excruciating. He is screaming at her and calling her stupid and ugly. Her mind freezes. This is a nightmare. She must be dreaming. She must. This can’t really be happening.


When a woman is a victim or rape or molestation, the man and society often try to tell her it is her own fault. She shouldn’t have been where she was, her skirt was too short, she is a tease. Violence goes with the unwanted sex. Rape is often happening at the same time as she is tied up, he talks trash to her. Rape often includes inanimate objects which can cause severe injuries that will require surgery or leave permanent injuries.


There is no perk to being victimized. None. Some women are stronger than others, they can walk away the first time they are battered. For some,  the emotional abuse wrecks their self-confidence and his words begin to play over and over in her head. With time that voice is louder than the voices of the people around her.


A woman who has been raped, she knows what kinds of things that may be said about her. She was asking for it. She really wanted it. In truth, rape has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power and control. The rapist needs that power and control to perform. Often a rapist will threaten to come back and kill her if she tells anyone. He often has a gun or a knife in his hand. So, many young women hesitate to report the rape.Some can take a month or two to find the courage and conquer the shame before they can report it.


Both types of victims feel shame, guilt and fear. Battered women live with the abuser and fear more abuse. Often, when they leave, it is in the middle of the night and they flee for their lives and the lives of their children. Many have no job skills, or access to credit. This is why battered women’s shelters are so important. It is important that shelter locations remain secret to protect the women and children who are staying there and also to protect the staff. Taxi drivers know where they are.


There is nothing to be gained by being a victim. Helping a woman to listen to her own voice and not the voice of her rapist of batterer is important but it often takes quite a while. There is no status in being raped or beaten. Society needs to remember that these women are someone’s daughters, sisters, cousins, mother and friends.


So please don’t judge. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Take in consideration that she is vulnerable and frightened. Scorn from people in her life will only increase her fear and vulnerability.






Rape Hotline

Rape Hotline



No one wants to be raped or molested.

No one wants to be raped or molested.


Survivors get a second chance.

Survivors get a second chance.



Domestic Violence is a crime. You can't hit another person,ever.

Domestic Violence is a crime. You can’t hit another person, ever.


Domestic Violence is found in every level of society.

Domestic Violence is found in every level of society.

The Spoils of War

We are ending ten long years of war. Wars not won but thousands of people dead. Now we are putting ourselves into Syria to protect the citizens and the Western world. Peace isn’t being spoken about at all. Yet, there are many of us who know that peace is the only way for us to go.


As sides line up and stories begin to flow out of the war torn countries, we will find that not only will there be deaths and emotional scarring but there will be a huge amount of using women to shame their families and themselves. The countries in Africa and the Middle East are finding that their women and children are in particular danger due to all the wars around the world.


Raping women and girls has become an important aspect to war. It is part of the plans for winning wars. The Democratic Republic of Congo is known as the “rape capital of the world.”  Women and children are enslaved and gang raped. If they conceive, they are killed.  Why rape women and children?  If women can escape, their husbands and families don’t want them. They are dirty and full of shame.


Women and girls raped in war are far more likely to die due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. Young women who are impregnated during war do not receive prenatal care. They are owned, after all. The death rate increases by five times for these young women. It would have been kinder if we could have provided abortions for those that wish them. These babies represent the horrors of their rapes and /or gang rape. All monies going to war-torn countries from America cannot be used to provide a compassionate abortion for these women who have suffered the worst thing that can happen to a women.


So, US aid is prohibited from being used for abortions and they can’t even be discussed. Today’s wars continue to use sexual violence as a tool to win battles and even wars. It is part of genocide. To contaminate the gene pool of a country has a devastating effect on its citizens.


Currently in Syria, reports have found that armed men, often many at a time, kidnap, rape, torture and kill women and girls. One of the primary reasons for human displacement during this conflict has been fear of rape. The Global Summit held in London this past summer, rape as a tactic of war was discussed.


Because we do not provide abortions for rape victims, we are re-victimizing these poor women and children. The United Nations and the Security Council have urged countries to take steps to help these women. Because the US forbids any of its monies from being used for abortions in these cases, America is in violation of the Geneva Conventions policy to comply with the human rights of women and children.


President Bush’s administration specifically forbade funding for rape survivors and child slaves. The Obama administration can take steps to address this injustice but hasn’t so far. The administration has yet to abolish Bush’s unfair restriction.


When applied to women and girls raped in war, the abortion ban not only denies them their rights to all necessary care under the Geneva Convention, it also interferes with the way the aid is distributed by countries that do allow abortion.


For young girls, their bodies are not developed enough to give birth. Young girls who do manage to give birth and live, face long-term economic and psychological trauma. Again, we are re-victimizing these human beings.


Save the Children’s “Unspeakable Crimes Against Children: Sexual Violence in Conflict” report says that these children are being condemned to a lifetime of extreme poverty, illiteracy, increased vulnerability to risky or exploitative economic practices as children and then as adults. Poverty will spread across generations.


Female bodies must not be used as a background in war.







            We are all one family and we are all the same species


Guatemalan-rape-victims-006                   Victims of rape during war.

Beyond “No means No”

Beyond ‘no means no’: the future of campus rape prevention is ‘yes means yes’

Originally posted at the  by Jessica Valenti

Survivors from California to New York say universities are failing students. But a once-in-a-generation moment might be upon us

 Emma Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who filed a federal complaint over Columbia’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases. And Columbia is one of 67 schools facing such accusations. Photograph: Kristina Budelis for Guardian US Opinion

Emma Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who filed a federal complaint over Columbia’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases. And Columbia is one of 67 schools facing such accusations. Photograph: Kristina Budelis for Guardian US Opinion

While most students at Columbia University will spend the first day of classes carrying backpacks and books, Emma Sulkowicz will start her semester on Tuesday with a far heavier burden. The senior plans on carrying an extra-long, twin-size mattress across the quad and through each New York City building – to every class, every day – until the man she says raped her moves off campus.

“I was raped in my own bed,” Sulkowicz told me the other day, as she was gearing up to head back to school in this, the year American colleges are finally, supposedly, ready to do something about sexual assault. “I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.”

Sulkowicz is one of three women who made complaints to Columbia against the same fellow senior, who was found “not responsible” in all three cases. She also filed a police report, but Sulkowicz was treated abysmally – by the cops, and by a Columbia disciplinary panel so uneducated about the scourge of campus violence that one panelist asked how it was possible to be anally raped without lubrication.

Apparently even an Ivy League school still doesn’t understand the old adage of “no means no”.

So Sulkowicz joined a federal complaint in April over Columbia’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases, and she will will hoist that mattress on her shoulders as part savvy activism, part performance art. “The administration can end the piece, by expelling him,” she says, “or he can, by leaving campus.”

Her performance may be singular, but the deep frustration voiced by Sulkowicz is being echoed by survivors across the United States. Despite increased efforts to curb campus assault and hold schools accountable – the FBI has changed its once-archaic definition of rape, a new White House task force wants answers, and schools likeHarvard and Dartmouth have promised new policies – the nation’s university administrators are still failing young people in their care. In the last year alone, 67 schools have had students file federal complaints accusing their own colleges of violating the Clery Act or Title IX.

With the start of school underway, however, the biggest paradigm shift on rape and sexual consent in decades may just now be emerging in California, where “yes means yes” – a model for reform that feminists like me have been pushing for years – could soon become law.

Late last week, the first state bill to require colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model in their sexual assault policies passed the California senate unanimously. The legislation, which is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval by the end of this month (his office declined to comment), effectively requires the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no” – or else withholds funding from the nation’s largest state school system.

The legislation additionally clarifies that affirmative consent means both parties must be awake, conscious and not incapacitated from alcohol or drugs – and that past sexual encounters or a romantic relationship doesn’t imply consent. The California bill also, importantly, specifies that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”.

It seems like a no-brainer to only have sex with conscious and enthusiastic partners, but detractors say the standard “micromanages” sexuality. The truth is that a “yes means yes” policy “helps to create a shared responsibility, instead of the responsibility falling on women to say ‘no’,” says Tracey Vitchers, chair of the board at Safer (Students Active for Ending Rape). Anti-violence activists are clearly excited about the bill, which – if all goes well – could be adopted by more states with large public university systems.

Sofie Karasek, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley and co-founder ofEnd Rape on Campus, also supports the new bill. Like Sulkowicz at Columbia,Karasek filed a federal complaint after she said Berkeley didn’t take sufficient action after she reported a sexual assault. As her first week back on campus was winding down on Friday, Karasek told me she thinks the California model has “created an important conversation about consent in the media and public, and I think with affirmative consent, more students will be talking about it as well.”

Indeed, a lot of students – male students, included – already are. Gray Williams, a senior at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says he likes the “yes means yes” standard. “It’s not that big of a deal, and I appreciate having an unambiguous ‘yes’ or ‘no’ instead of having to read her body language,” he told me. Roo George-Warren, a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University, thinks some young men might be skeptical, but he insists part of the problem is that the “discourse around consent in day-to-day conversation is so unsophisticated.”

And this is what makes the legislation so important for colleges: mandating “yes means yes” in sexual assault policy puts the onus on colleges to give comprehensive consent education. If students are to abide by that standard, they need to know what it means.

So California could lead the way in redefining how we think about sexual consent. But as promising as this overdue measure may be, state legislatures and university administrators alike need to make sure they’re being as thorough as possible in this moment when real reform, for once, doesn’t seem impossible. The legislation doesn’t clearly specify whether affirmative consent means verbal or nonverbal communication. Do students need to say “yes”? Or is clear body language sufficient?

Should Gov Brown sign “yes means yes” into law, I agree with Slate writer Amanda Hess, who believes the standard going forward should itself be more sophisticated and include nonverbal cues – not just because they present a more realistic vision of how we experience sex, but because we need to talk about body language that can mean “no” as well:

If we can admit that enthusiastic consent is often communicated in body language or knowing looks, then we must also accept that the lack of consent doesn’t always manifest itself in a shouted ‘no’ or ‘stop,’ either. It shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the uninterested party to speak up during a sexual encounter.

At Berkeley, Karasek said she remained worried that such ambiguity could be used to further hurt survivors and that requiring verbal consent would make it easier to “avoid the ‘he said, she said’ that college administrators try to make rape cases out to be.”

emma sulkowicz photo portrait

An estimated one in five women is sexually assaulted during college. Emma Sulkowicz says she was raped in her own bed. Photograph: Kristina Budelis for Guardian US Opinion

We’ve come a long way in the last four decades on sexual assault, but this necessary shift to “yes means yes” will not be an easy one. (Let’s also not forget that it was just four years ago when male students from Yale University were caught on tape chanting “No means yes, yes means anal.”)

The feminist movement of the 70s shined a light on “date rape” – the most common kind of sexual assault that once went ignored is now widely-understood to be a pervasive problem. Twenty-one years ago, marital rape was still legal in some states, but now legislation decries the idea that marriage equals constant consent. Today, politicians and activists alike increasingly recognize that everything we did before is simply not enough: despite these shifts in policy and public perception, rape is still far too common – approximately one out of every five women is sexually assaulted in college.

And that’s just what’s reported, according to the White House. That’s just in America. That’s just in college.

When I spoke to Sulkowicz about her unofficial senior project – she calls it Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight – the brave 21-year-old said something I think most people who care about the issue of violence against women can relate to. “It’s going to be an endurance piece,” she said. In some ways, battling rape always has been.


I applaud this brave young woman, and throw my support behind “Yes means Yes”, in addition to “No means No”. 


I also want to point out that this not a solely American problem.  Rape is rising around the world.  There are those who would say that reported rapes are up, and they would be correct, but this should not be taken to mean that unreported rape is down.  No statistic has been provided to indicate this.
The bottom line is that as long as Women are treated as Second Class Citizens; as long as there is no Equality in fact of Law, or in action, or in religious dogma, women will be raped and men will not be held accountable.  As long as men are allowed to consider women to be property, they will continue to use women however they wish with conscience or consequence.  We cannot force men to have a conscience, but we can make a consequence for their wrong actions, and this cannot be a slap on the wrist, it must be a steep penalty that will have repercussions in their lives.