Tag Archives: Rape

You Might Be a Rapist

I know the title is startling, unless you read it in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice, but I gotta get your attention somehow. *Trigger Warning: please contact RAINN for help* And if it made you think twice about that one encounter you had in college with someone who was way drunk, or that time you pressured someone into doing something they weren’t comfortable with, you might be a rapist.


Since the New Year is quickly approaching and making resolutions is a thing people do I thought I’d make a list for you of things that may make you a sexual predator, so you can be sure to not do them in your lifetime. Heregoes, you might be a rapist:

  • If you think you have a “right” to have sex with anyone, including your spouse
  • If you think what I’m wearing means I want to have sex with you
  • If you think you’re owed sex for buying coffee or a drink or dinner
    bad date
  • If you stare, grunt, yell, honk or touch yourself when looking at someone you find attractive
  • If you masturbate to Toddlers and Tiaras *pedophile rapist*
  • If you think “nice tits” is an appropriate compliment for anyone other than your partner (who does not object to it)
  • If you think it is complimentary to harass strangers in public
  • If you feel compelled to only compliment strangers of the gender(s) to which you are attracted
  • If you date people with whose race/ethnicity you don’t identify because you think they’re “easier”  *racist rapist*
  • If you use the word easy to describe people
  • If you prefer porn where someone is “asleep” or looks like they are actively being violently and non-consensually assaulted
  • If you think an underage girl is a predator preying on older men, is equally responsible for her assault or has any age other than her biological age *pedophile rapist*
  • If you think someone has to have sex with you to prove they love you
  • If you use diminutive pet words when talking to people in the service industry
  • If you refuse to use condoms/birth control… Assange *cough*
  • If you think prisons are funny
  • If you think high school football and/or football players are more important than women’s bodily integrity
  • If you LOVE American Apparel ads
  • If you believe that “real rape” is when a black man jumps out of the bushes with a gun and rapes a white woman *racist rapist*
  • If you think rape survivors whom you don’t find attractive (ie. larger, older or disabled) should be grateful
  • If you don’t take survivors’ stories seriously
  • If you think that successful, attractive men couldn’t rape anyone
  • If you support celebrities, politicians and international icons who are running from the law because of sexual assault charges
  • If you threaten people with rape when you don’t like what they say
  • If you think male-identified people can’t be/aren’t raped and assaulted
  • If you inversely judge men and women by the number of sex partners they’ve had
  • If you think that testing rape kits for DNA evidence is wasteful or should not be a priority for the justice system
  • If you think our legal system brings justice for survivors of assault
  • If in college you chanted about raping someone’s underage sister
  • If you don’t recognize that someone drunk, sleeping or terrified cannot consent to sex
  • If you think “I know you want it” is a pick-up line
  • If you don’t take no for an answer
  • If you pester someone until their no is a “fine!”
  • If you think silence = consent
  • If you joke about rape
  • If you think rape is a women’s issue


Ok, certainly many of these things do not actually make you a rapist, but they do absolutely make you an active, encouraging participant in rape culture, so stop it! Nothing but equality and enthusiastic consent will do!

Happy Holidays loves and remember: everyone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability, class and age all factor in to how rape culture works for or against them, so check your privilege.


My Right to Bodily Autonomy

SA Awareness & Prevention Month

*Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence* Take care of yourself. If you need to talk to someone, contact RAINN.

Meet Us On The StreetThis week, April 7-13, is International Anti-Street Harassment Week and April is both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Abortion Wellbeing Month, an overlap that is very personal to me. I have been harassed on the street more times than I can count. I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and childhood sexual abuse. I am also an abortion provider. Though these might not seem to have anything to do with each other, since my assaults thankfully did not result in pregnancy, they are intrinsically linked. Each assault I have endured and the violence I face as an abortion provider are affronts to my right to bodily autonomy. My tragedies, however, have shaped who I am as an individual: I am a warrior for equality.

Not Public SpaceThe restricting of access to abortion and sexual assault both serve one purpose–to control women by controlling their bodies. For women in the United States and around the world to be well, to be whole, equal and productive citizens women must first have the right to control their own bodies. The right to say no to unwanted physical contact and the right to make informed decisions about what medical procedures we choose to undergo are basic human rights. If I have sex and get pregnant and do not want to continue to be pregnant, I have the right to terminate the pregnancy because my body is mine alone and the responsibility for caring for the pregnancy would be mine alone. If I am a stranger, if I say no, if I stay silent, if I am crying, you have no right to my body. Consent is sexy and only an emphatic YES! means yes.

If rape were audible

While hapless pundits wonder if violence against women is something that women really worry about, from Stubenville, Ohio to Delhi, India rape and sexual assault happen every moment of every day all around the world.

Laugh:Kill- M Atwood

And each attack transforms its victim and its perpetrator. The healing process for survivors can be long and painful but so many initiatives now exist to put an end to sexual violence that the tides may be turning. Women in Kenya have filed a lawsuit against their government for failing to protect them from rape! From tackling street harassment with Meet Us On The Street and Hollaback! to a mom taking on Facebook‘s “controversial humor” pages glorifying sexual violence to Denim Day to the No More, Who Are You? and Where is Your Line? campaigns to comics and cell phone apps, more and more people are realizing that the strength of our numbers will ultimately win.

Not in Kansas

Unfortunately in the US abortion rights are backsliding.

If men could get pregnant

While France has made contraception and abortion free for all women, here in the US we are still fighting for the right to buy prescriptions for birth control at our local pharmacies. North Dakota has banned abortion after 6 weeks, has only one abortion provider AND has a 72 hour waiting period. Ohio is working to make abortion illegal, as is Alabama. Iowa is trying to restrict abortion access for female inmates. Texas is seriously thinking about making it that much harder to get an abortion.  Kansas lawmakers have been granted the right to lie to their patients and disrespect rape victims while making all abortion basically illegal. And Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina are in on this racket too. Sadly, recent news has shown us, as has history time and again, that without access to abortion women die. The United Nations has recently declared that denying abortions is tantamount to torture.

ResponsibilitySome states are defending Reproductive Justice; Oregon is considering a bill that would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers (non-medically licensed religiously affiliated centers that lie to women to prevent them from having abortions) to disclose what services they actually offer and comply with federal medical regulations regarding patient confidentiality. Also, Washington is trying to mandate insurance coverage for abortion care, and New York is attempting to broaden the availability of abortion. One recent victory for women in the US is the ruling that Emergency Contraception, also known as Plan B or The Morning After Pill, must be made available over-the-counter for all women. Health professionals and activists have been fighting for this for years and even though some states still oppose regular daily oral contraceptives, making EC more available will reduce abortion rates, which ultimately is everyone’s goal. And though Christian and Republican arguments against birth control and EC defy logic, it is a reasonable assumption that if everyone had access to comprehensive sex education and contraception that the rates of unintended pregnancy, and by default abortion, would be lower. The voice of reason now, our voices, must be heard if we want to see any change in this War on Women.

Fierce FloresOne courageous lawmaker this week, Assemblymember Lucy Flores (D-Nevada), disclosed to the public that she has had an abortion. Her compelling personal story of abortion being a positive life-changing experience for her comes at a time when most women would never dream of telling anyone they had an abortion. Though more than 1/3 of all American women will have an abortion at least once by age 45, a good 80% of my patients believe they don’t know anyone else who has had an abortion. The trepidation that women feel at disclosing this is both maddening and understandable: Flores has received death threats since admitting she does not regret having an abortion. This stifling of choice, and backlash against women who exercise their legal right to abortion, is one more spark igniting violence against women in the United States.

North Dakota

If we want equality, and I know some people don’t, we must respect women. We must respect women’s right to bodily autonomy. If women’s bodily autonomy were respected the rates of sexual assault would plummet, and women who have abortions would not be demonized for their choices. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, share resources with your friends, be supportive of those who have been assaulted, speak out against rape jokes, and volunteer with or donate to your local rape crisis center. For Abortion Wellbeing Month, share your stories with your friends, be supportive of women or couples facing unwanted pregnancies, speak out against politicians interfering in medicine, and volunteer as an escort at your local clinic, or donate to your local abortion fund. Below are some tips on respecting bodily autonomy: what constitutes consent and how male allies can get in on the good fight and stop rape and street harassment. As always any comments, links, ideas and critiques are welcome as long as they are respectful and constructive. Carry on, dear reader, the fight for human rights needs you!

Only Yes Means Yes

Teach Men Not to Rape

6 Things Men Can Do To Stop Street Harassment

Am I just paranoid, or…

Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you. – Kurt Cobain

I think that many of my female readers share my feelings of paranoia but if not please let me know I’m just crazy. With this post it is my male readers I hope to speak to. The purpose of this post is in no way to blame all men for the immoral and illegal choices of some men, rather, the aim of this post is to put more fire in the bellies of male allies in the fight for women’s equality. I also in no way mean to diminish or minimize the experiences of men, boys and transgender individuals who have been sexually assaulted or raped. Their traumas are just as real as any woman’s and certainly are not given the weight in our society that they should be. With this post I want you to know specifically what my grievances are, how I feel as a woman on a daily basis, and, most importantly, what you can do to help. With everything in the news lately and all the statistics available surrounding the heinous rates of violence against women and sexual assault and rape around the world, it’s easy for me to feel like women, and our rights, are under attack.

For most of my life I have felt vulnerable simply because I am female, to the point that I’ve taken self defense classes. I’m sure some of this fear comes from having been repeatedly sexually assaulted by male relatives as a girl, but even now, as an adult woman, I find my mind shift to dark thoughts quite often when I am in the company of strangers. To live in constant fear of violence is absurd and ultimately will make you crazy, and I hate that I buy into the rape culture myth that violence against women, especially sexual violence, happens at night when a stranger jumps out from around a corner and tackles you.

Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and 50% of all rape/sexual assaults occur within 1 mile of the victim’s home! The Service Women’s Action Network also explains how prevalent rape and sexual assault against members of the US military is in this publication. See previous posts on violence against women including Violence Against Women in the US, The Clothesline Project, Take Back the Night, the V-Day MovementRAINN and NDVH, and others for more information on the situation of women in the US.

Women in other parts of the world are in even more frightening situations. Today Al-Jazeera posted this article explaining why Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia are the top five most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Reasons ranging from the feminization of poverty, rape as a weapon of war, and harmful religious and cultural practices, to female infanticide and female genital mutilation affect the safety and livelihoods of women in these places.

Back in the US, Republicans are taking their misogyny global by trying to defund Planned Parenthood at home and abroad, using “states’ rights” rhetoric to make abortion unattainable for the most vulnerable women in their districts, and trying to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which really does just make me want to gag. But women and men are standing up for equality and human rights, including the 373 people who sent in pictures of themselves to NARAL Pro-Choice’s Stop the War on Women video to the US Senate, the fierce founders and participants of the Hollaback! movement to stop street harassment, and the thousands (millions?) of people who have participated in SlutWalks around the world to protest a culture of victim-blaming surrounding sexual assault. SlutWalk deserves its very own post, despite the massive amount of press it’s already received, so look out for that.

I think our biggest issue in victim-blaming comes from our rape culture myth that what women wear or do or say affects their chances of being raped: it doesn’t. Women should not have to protect themselves or change the way they want to appear for fear of rape: People should not rape. Period. Women have been objectified by American society for quite some time and while reinforcing that women are objects to be seen is not ideal, women should be allowed to be seen however they want, and should be able to have sex with whomever they want, without any individual thinking that anything other than clear and sober consent means yes to sex. And in the spirit of Hollaback! what I choose to wear does not give you permission to yell at me either.

So, with all this in mind, am I just paranoid or

-do you wonder whenever you’re in the shower or using a public restroom or having sex with someone for the first time if a webcam is broadcasting your nakedness all over the internet?
-do you also check your backseat whenever you get in your car to make sure a stranger or stalker isn’t waiting to rape and/or kill you?
-do you get nervous when you step into a full elevator, worried that someone might touch you in an unwanted and sexual way?
-do you think twice before going somewhere you are unfamiliar with, in case there are dark corners for bad people to hide in?
-do you feel like you’re being watched in a disgusting, lustful way by men of all ages all the time?
-do you remind yourself that yelling “fire” is more likely to garner help than yelling “rape” when you feel like someone is following you?
-do you carry your keys in your hands, extended between your fingers as you make a fist when you walk home after dark?
-do you avoid making eye contact with strangers for fear that they will misread your friendliness for a sexual advance and then rape you?
-do you wonder, whenever you’re in a group, how many of the people with you have raped someone, or have been raped?
-do you have any idea what it’s like to feel like you’re the constant target of society’s violent sexual urges and need to control?

Ladies? Gentlemen?

But cheer up, there are lots of ways you can help!

-Don’t rape anyone: passed out, drunk, wearing next-to-nothing, came onto you before, had sex with you before, started a sexual encounter and then changed her/his mind, is underage… just don’t.
-If that isn’t clear, read this.
-If you still don’t get it, watch this.
-Don’t tell rape jokes.
-Don’t use the word rape to complain about the way your school, bank, job, or government is treating you.
-Don’t let your friends get away with telling rape jokes. Explain to them why it is hurtful, wrong and dangerous.
-Don’t let your friends get away with using rape to complain about institutions.
-If you hear someone bragging about a sexual assault or rape, call the police.
-If you’re in public and you hear/see someone harassing/assaulting someone else, call the police.
-If you hear/see domestic violence taking place, call the police.
-March in rallies for human rights, healthcare, immigration rights, economic freedom and marriage equality.
-Call or email your lawmakers and tell them to end the backlog of untested rape kits in your local police departments.
-Call or email your lawmakers and tell them to support the International Violence Against Women Act.
-Sign this petition to demand that the FBI change the definition of rape from “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” to something that includes date rape, oral, anal and statutory rape, rape with an object, finger or fist and rape of men.
-And share this post, and the many others out there like it written by feminist who are tired of being afraid, with anyone who can and will read it. Thanks for your support!


Day 21- Violence Against Women in the US

Whether it comes in the form of emotional, financial, physical, or sexual abuse, a significant portion of women in the United States face violence everyday. Violence, and the fight against it, may be the one unifying factor women across all sectors have in common other than their sex. Race, class, age, sexuality, gender identity, and ability all affect the type of violence women experience but none of these factors protect women from violence.

“Violence in the name of power, conquest, dominance, and submission are the cornerstones of”[1] the hierarchy of patriarchy in the U.S. Perhaps the most disturbing fact about violence against women in the United States is that most women are hurt by someone known to them, and the most dangerous place for women is a private home.

Luckily, help is available for victims of violence. “On September 15, 2009, 1,648 out of 1,980, or 83%, of identified local domestic violence programs in the United States and territories participated in the 2009 National Census of Domestic Violence Services,” conducted annually by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).[2]

This survey[3] found that 65,321 victims, (41,097 adults and 24,224 children) were served and 9,280 needs were unmet due to lack of resources and/or funding in one day. On that day four women were killed by their intimate partners and seven children were killed by their fathers.

Although the survey did not take into account how many men or women were served or what age group victims generally fell in–confidentiality issues can take precedence over sex- and age-disaggregated data–one in nine men and one in four women will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.[4] Sixty per cent of unmet requests “were from victims seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing.” Insufficient funding for needed programs and services was cited by 40 percent of program respondents as a reason they were unable to provide services while “limited funding for translators, bilingual staff, or accessible equipment,” was cited by 11 percent of programs. In Texas alone, with 87% of shelters reporting, 2,988 adults and 2,443 children were served while 784 requests for services were unmet.[5]

Figures for the most underreported violent crimes–sexual assault and rape–are equally disturbing. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that one of every six women in the United States will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.[6] Sixty percent of these crimes are not reported to the police. Domestic violence is also underreported.

“Language barriers, distrust of authorities, and fears of the legal system can deter reporting. Many immigrant women are reluctant to report domestic violence to authorities out of fear that they would be deported. Non-English speakers, migrant workers, or victims with disabilities may face specific obstacles in reporting….

“Traditional expectations in some cultures that demand silent subservience of women make it harder for battered women to report the abuse and deprive those women of community support. In traditional Navajo culture, for example, ‘peacemakers’ who informally adjudicate claims of battering may try to restore harmony by encouraging women to remain in abusive relationships.

“Lesbians and gay men may be reluctant to report intimate violence to avoid disclosing their sexual orientation, or they may fear police hostility. If gay men or lesbians use physical force to defend themselves from their battering partners, police may assume that two men wrestling is a ‘fair fight’ or think that two women struggling is a catfight or quarrel. If lesbians who are battered by their partner seek refuge at a shelter, their partners, who are also women, can gain access to them.”[7]

The result of underreporting and a judicial system entrenched in patriarchy is that on average three women are killed every day by an intimate partner[8] and only about six percent of rapists ever spend a day in jail.[9]

“Women are still being criticized for what they were wearing at the time of the rape and where they were when it occurred, and questioned why they were there in the first place–all of which would be unthinkable if the crime was, say, a mugging. As law professor Taunya Lovell Banks says, ‘No one ever questions if a person consents to other types of assault. Nonsexual victims don’t have to say “I didn’t consent to be hit with that crowbar.”‘”[10]

In 2008 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that 89,000 “forcible rapes” took place[11] while only 22,584 arrests were made for “forcible rape.”[12] The Center for Disease Control found that in 2007 sexual assault was the leading cause of nonfatal violence-related injuries for females age one to nine years old, while for all other age groups of females, including those younger than one year old, “other assault, struck by/against” was the leading cause of injury. Much of the physical violence in the report can be attributed to domestic violence and child abuse.

Sexual assault was the second most frequent cause of nonfatal violence-related injury for females under one year of age and those aged 10-14. It was also the number three ranking cause of injury overall and for women ages 15-34.[13] Citing the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RAINN found that 90 percent of rape victims are female, and while white people make up 80 percent of all sexual assault victims, minorities are more likely to be attacked.

The lifetime rate of rape or attempted rate is highest for Native American women, at 34.1 percent. In America 24.4 percent of mixed raced women, 18.8 percent of black women, 17.7 percent of white women and six-point-eight percent of Asian women will be victims of sexual assault. Also, 80 percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 30 while a staggering 15 percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12, and girls 16-19 are four “times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.”[14]

Violence and abuse towards children is rampant in the U.S. but is even more common towards disabled people and is compounded by other identity factors. “‘Special ed’ classrooms have been, and still are in some school districts, a dumping ground for poor kids, kids of color, particularly those who don’t speak English, and kids with a variety of disabilities, all of whom learn more slowly or differently than kids in ‘regular’ classrooms.”

Thus, while most children, like most adult victims of sexual assault or familial violence, keep quiet, disabled children and adults are even more likely not to report abuse. Abuse has become institutionalized as “women still are being abused in some mental hospitals. In some cases, other patients and hospital staff have abused the women, and no one believes them because they are labeled mentally ill.”[15] One woman explains why disabled people are chosen as targets of abuse:

“There are the ones who are chosen because they cannot speak of the horror. There are the ones who are chosen because they cannot run away, and there is nowhere to run. There are the ones who are chosen because their very lives depend on not fighting back. There are the ones who are chosen because there is no one for them to tell. There are the ones who are chosen because no one has even taught them the words. There are the ones who are chosen because society chooses to believe that, after all, they don’t really have any sexuality, so it can’t hurt them.”[16]

Disabled people, especially those with mental illness or developmental disabilities, are often seen as being unaware of their surroundings and therefore treated as subhuman, creating an environment in which abuse against them is more normalized. One author found that “abuse is the rule, rather than the exception, in the experience of disabled people.”[17]

Forced sterilization and sadistic medical experiments still take place on individuals with developmental disabilities.[18] Other groups that have battled for their right to bodily integrity and against forced sterilization include Native American and Latina women and women in the prison system, especially drug addicts. Native American boarding schools, the prison system, and retirement homes are also infamous for their high rates of institutionalized violence. Elder abuse is one more example of violence that often goes unreported due to fear and unpunished due to lack of concern.

Fortunately, numerous avenues have opened up to fight sexual and domestic violence in the past 40 years, largely thanks to the women’s movement of the 1970s. From recognition of the existence of marital rape to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, 2000, and 2005, women who are victims of violence now have more recourse to seek justice. There are also a considerable number of programs aimed at raising awareness of and preventing violence against women.

In addition to RAINN and NNEDV, Take Back the Night,[19] The Vagina Monologues/V-Day Movement,[20] The National Domestic Violence Hotline,[21] The National Sexual Assault Hotline,[22] and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence[23]–co-founded by Cherokee activist Andrea Smith, are all non-governmental organizations whose work fights to prevent violence and help those who have suffered recover.

The United States government has also joined in the fight; in addition to VAWA, the federal government also operates the Office on Violence Against Women under the Department of Justice,[24] and includes resources for victims of violence through the Office of Women’s Health under the Department of Health & Human Services.[25]

Also, every state and U.S. territory has at least one organization dedicated to victims of violence, most of which provide shelter services in emergencies. Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wyoming all have one statewide organization that addresses the needs of victims of sexual and domestic violence. All other states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam have at least one organization to address domestic violence and one to address sexual assault and rape.[26][27]

Many large cities throughout the U.S. also have local shelters and organizations to deal with high rates of violence. The presence of so many organizations working to prevent violence against women has helped; the annual number of reported rapes, sexual assaults, incidents of domestic violence, and intimate partner homicide have all fallen in the past 20 years, but, there is still much work to be done before patriarchy stops using violence to try to control women.

[1] Rowland, Debran. 2004. The Boundaries of Her Body: The Troubling History of Women’s Rights in America. Sphinx Publishing: Naperville, IL.g

[2] National Network to End Domestic Violence. 2009. “Domestic Violence Counts 2009: A 24-Hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services.” NNEDV: Washington, D.C.

Click to access DVCounts09_Report_BW.pdf

[3] See the full 2009 report in Appendix 4.

[4] The National Domestic Violence Hotline. “Get Educated.” 12 June 2010. http://www.ndvh.org/get-educated/abuse-in-america/

[5] National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2009.

[6] Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. 2009. “Who are the Victims?” 12 June 2010. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims

[7] Levit, Nancy and Robert R. M. Verchick. 2006. Feminist Legal Theory. New York University Press: New York.

[8] The National Organization for Women. 2009. “Violence Against Women in the United States: Statistics.” 7 August 2010. http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats.html

[9] Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. 2009. “Reporting Rates.” 12 June 2010 http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

[10] Dusky, Lorraine. 1996. Still Unequal: The Shameful Truth About Women and Justice in America. Crown Publishers, Inc.: New York.

[11] Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2009. “Table 7: Offense Analysis United States, 2004-2008.” 12 June 2010 http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_07.html

[12] Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2009 “Table 29: Estimated Number of Arrests United States, 2008.” 12 June 2010. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_29.html

[13] Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2010. “10 Leading Causes of Nonfatal Violence-Related Injury, United States: 2007, All Races, Females, Disposition: All Cases.” Center for Disease Control. 25 July 2010 http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/nonfatal/quickpicks/quickpicks_2007/violfem.htm

[14] RAINN, 2009.

[15] Brownworth and Raffo, 1999.

[16] Keith, 1996.

[17] Keith, 1996.

[18] Pilkington, Ed. 4 January 2007. “Frozen in time: the disabled nine-year-old girl who will remain a child all her life.” The Guardian. 7 August 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jan/04/health.topstories3

[26] Ibid.

Related Articles

Day 20- RAINN & NDVH

I love acronyms. I think they’re immensely useful. Two of my favorite acronyms are RAINN and NDVH.

RAINN is the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, and NDVH is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, both of which are primarily US organizations. I have posted their contact information at least twice in the past week but wanted today to focus on their work and explain how they help to combat violence against women. There is also a free NDVH in the UK.

RAINN provides startling statistics as to the nature of sexual violence in the US: every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted, 44% of victims are under age 18 and 80% are under 30, 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, roughly 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, and 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail.

For more information regarding sexual assault statistics, victims, offenders, and reporting, go to the respective links. RAINN offers information on different types of sexual assault including rape, incest, child sexual abuse, stalking and many other violent crimes. There is also advice for what to do in the aftermath of sexual assault, how to recover from sexual assault, information about the possible effects of sexual assault, and tips for computer safety.

RAINN has many high-profile supporters, including Rachel Bilson, Tori Amos, Blythe Danner, Cybill Shepherd, Law & Order:SVU’s Mariska Hargitay, and national spokesperson Christina Ricci, who lend their faces and voices to Public Service Announcements.

This organization also works to adjust public policyThese links offer information and support for various issues surrounding sexual assault such as drugs and rape, male rape, mental health, military resources, and international resources, and here is a list of resources by state. You can search for a local rape crisis center here or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline toll-free at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673) for live help.

To show your commitment to ending sexual violence, get involved by contacting your representatives about public policy or volunteering, shop at one (or all!) of these many retailers or support RAINN through their numerous donation options. RAINN also offers 5 different internships in Washington D.C.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline here gives information on signs of various types of domestic violence, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse. NDVH also offers information for abusers and witnesses to abuse as to how to help end the violence. Teen dating abuse is explored here and this information specifically addresses the unique situation of immigrant women in dealing with DV. Women with hearing disabilities can find useful information here.

NDVH offers these resources and advice for safety planning. To find help in your area, such as shelters and coalitions, go here. You can contact the hotline here or by calling toll-free 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. También hay información sobre la violencia contra mujeres en español.


You can support the hotline and its work by volunteering, shopping here or making a donation. You are also encouraged to share your voice in hopes that others might see themselves in your story and find a way out of an abusive situation. Numerous celebrities also support NDVH and appear in their PSAs including Salma Hayek, Martina McBride and Marlee Matlin.

Day 16- Denim Day Movement

Yesterday we saw how The Clothesline Project uses T-shirts to raise awareness of and combat the acceptability of violence against women. Today we will explore how another ordinary article of clothing, jeans, can spread a message of hope, courage, support, and most of all, that “Yes means yes, no means no: whatever we wear, wherever we go!” 

This year Denim Day will fall on (or around) April 27. The date changes slightly each year but the Denim Day in LA website is regularly updated. Peace Over Violence, the organizers of Denim Day in LA, describe the event this way:

“It is a rape prevention education campaign, where we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion statement and on this day wear jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault.”

Denim Day was inspired by a rape case in Italy in which the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because, the judge argued, the victim was wearing tight jeans, and so must have helped her attacker take them off, thus consenting to sex. To protest the ridiculous verdict women of the Italian parliament protested by wearing jeans to work. News of the protest spread to California where our legislators did the same, and when the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence heard about it, Denim Day in LA was born. That was in 1999 and Denim Day has taken place across the globe since then.

The outrage that followed this case continues today as many states in the US do not have laws about rape that contain the word “consent” but rather identify rape solely by penetration. My biggest complaint with rape laws in the US (other than their complete lack of enforceability) is that the justice system currently does not consider a man forcing a woman to continue having sex to be rape. That is, once a woman consents to an act of sex, she then has no power to terminate it. It’s infuriating that in 2011 we are still debating whether women should have the right to control their own bodies (in this and many other contentious areas).

Many organizations, such as the Missouri Department of  Health & Senior Services offer toolkits for organizing your own Denim Day, and Denim Day is an internationally recognized event, taking place in communities and college campuses around the world. Nearly all domestic violence and rape/sexual assault shelters and organizations also participate in Denim Day, so if you are interested in helping out and helping to squash myths surrounding sexual assault, contact your local shelters to see if they can use volunteers.


Also from the Denim Day in LA website:


Rape is not sex, it is violence

Myth: Women encourage rape by wearing sexy, suggestive clothing. If someone dresses conservatively they are less likely to be raped.

Reality: Research consistently shows that rape is about the need to act out power and control, not what a person wears. In fact, women and girls have been raped while wearing everything from pajamas to jeans to business suits.

Myth: Most rapes occur in a dark alley by a stranger.

Reality: About 75% of rape victims are assaulted by someone they know . . . intimates or acquaintances. This could include dates, family members, boyfriends, and husbands.

Myth: If a woman consents once to sex with someone, she can’t ever be raped by him. If she knows

him or is in a relationship with him, she can’t be raped.

Reality: Coercing or forcing someone to have sex against their will is sexual violence. Knowing, dating, being married or related to, is not a license to rape.

Myth: He’s attractive and successful. Anyone would want to be with him. He couldn’t be a rapist.

Reality: Rapists come from all types of backgrounds and all walks of life. Money and success does not preclude committing a crime, but in some cases it has helped avoid a conviction.

If you or someone you know needs help here are some organizations that can offer support:


National Hotlines:

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN)
800.656.HOPE (4673)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

800.799.SAFE (7233)
800.787.3224 TDD


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