7 Things People Ask Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault – and What They Should Ask Instead

  1. What they ask: “What were you wearing?”

    Some people operate under the false assumption that a person’s attire has something to do with their attack, such that a short skirt or dramatic cleavage can “provoke” an attack. Let me unburden you of this false assumption; people are assaulted all over the world no matter what they are wearing, and how insulting is it to men that we assume they can’t see someone in a short skirt without losing their control? Super insulting.

    What they should ask: “Do you need a ride to the hospital?”

    A sexual assault is a physically and psychologically traumatic event. Medical attention is necessary.

  2. What they ask: “Were you drunk?”

    If rape were always the natural consequence of getting drunk, nobody would ever have a drink. Also, forget the fact that you can’t legally consent to any kind of sex when you’re drunk, nobody wants to hang out with the kind of person who forces drunk people into sexual situations they aren’t prepared to say “yes” to. Don’t be that guy.

    What they should ask: “Let me buy you lunch. I could order Chinese?”

    This question has it all: a kind offer to pick up the tab, a concern for the other person’s well-being, and most importantly, Chinese food.

  3. What they ask: “Were you flirting with the guy?”

    Flirting does not equal consent. Flirting is a common and natural human interaction that, most of the time, doesn’t lead to sex, and it certainly shouldn’t lead to rape. So cut that shit out. Nobody is “asking for it.”

    What they should ask: “Can I get you some tea? Or are you more of a hot chocolate person?”

    Warm drinks are always a yes.

  4. What they ask: “Have you had a lot of other sexual partners?”I know this one’s going to be hard for some of you to accept, but no matter how many people a person choose to have sex with, at no point do they give up their right to say no. A person who’s had a lot of sexual partners isn’t “okay” to rape. It’s not okay to rape anyone. Am I getting through to some of you?

    What they should ask: “Have you gotten tested for STDs and pregnancy? I know it’s scary, but it’s important, and I can come with you. And we can get sushi after.”

    Not fun, but also important. Get tested so you know what you’re dealing with. It’s unfair and it sucks that you now have this problem to deal with, and I am sincerely sorry.

  5. What they ask: “Yeah, but did you secretly like it?”

    I can’t even – the fuck is wrong with you, asking questions like that?! Get the fuck off my blog. I don’t want readers like you. Go find Jesus.

    What they should ask: “Do you want me to sleep over tonight?”

    As a survivor of rape/sexual assault, it can be hard to be alone. Sometimes, it’s really good to have a friend there to make you feel safe. Of course, if your friend really wants their space, you gotta respect that, too, fam.

  6. What they ask: “Did you fight back?”Discussing the details of a sexual attack is about as fun as writing this post (I’m really pissed off that I have to), so don’t force people into it. They’ll have enough of that to deal with if they decide to pursue legal action.

    What they should ask: “Do you want to watch the new Spongebob movie?”

    Fun, fabulous, and no scary rape scenes. A+ suggestion.

  7. What they ask: “What were you doing alone in a bar at night?”There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a drink, nothing wrong with going out on your own if none of your friends are down for it. We live in a free society. A woman should be able to go out for drinks without having to fear sexual assault, right? Right.

    What they should ask: “Do you want to talk about it, or if you want, we can just sit here and watch Netflix and basically ignore each other?”

    Sometimes, this is all the socialization you can handle, and that’s okay.

Note to society: Please get your shit together. I do not want to have to write anything like this ever again. I’m truly horrified.

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6 Ways to Actually Help a Friend in Need

Hey kittens,

So, like some of you, I have a mental illness, and like many of you, I have friends and loved ones with mental illnesses, too. It’s quite a ride – you never know when someone might show up at your door, ring your phone, bail on your plans, or randomly announce that they’re on the verge of some kind of attack. It’s certainly not the chillest of circumstances, but if you want to help, I have a little advice from my personal experience and the experiences of my friends that might make helping a little easier. So let’s dive right in:

  1. Give them a small, productive task to do.

    One time, I was hanging out in my student apartment in Bamberg, making salsa, and a friend who also lived in that building showed up in my door in tears. Of course, I let her in, but then – not quite wanting to bail on my salsa, either – I gave her a knife and a cutting board and asked her to help me dice vegetables. It seemed to help, and it gave us something to do with our hands while we hashed out what was bothering her. It might seem a little counterproductive to put your suffering friends to work, but when you’re feeling really down, you might also feel totally useless, like you can’t do anything right in your life. Completing a small task can be a much-needed reminder that you are not useless and that even if you can’t do everything, you can do something.

  2. Talk to them like you always would.

    This is especially effective for people suffering from anxiety or panic. Once, I randomly – and seriously, out of nowhere – started having an anxiety attack at a friend’s house while we were hanging out in her room, something we’d already done dozens of times before. I suddenly felt like the walls were closing in on me, and I told her I needed some fresh air or I would lose it. So we went out on her porch, and while I was out there, hyperventilating and crying and shaking and rocking back and forth, she told me about her day at work in such a calm voice, like she would have any other time, like she would talk to me if I was also totally calm. It brought me back down to Earth real fast, because I was reminded that no, the world is not ending. Everything’s fine. Everything’s normal. Her unaffected tone of voice and choice of topic really sped up the calming-down process for me.

  3. Ask them if they want to play a game.

    Or watch a reality show or make silly art. Doing something mindless and fun can be a good way of taking your mind off your troubles. One side effect of mental illness is that sometimes, instead of going straight to solving the problem on your mind, you think about it over and over and over until you are paralyzed with anxiety and completely incapable of doing anything. Start off with easing your mind. Do something fun, take care of your immediate needs. Then take a deep breath and handle the hard stuff.

  4. Help them formulate a plan.

    For the same reasons as above, it can be hard to know what to do next when you’re suffering from psychological pain. Ask your friend what they’re going to do tonight and tomorrow to take care of themselves, do the things they have to do (work or school or whatever), and relax afterwards. Give them suggestions about things you know might make them happy. My boyfriend does this for me, and it always helps.

  5. When in doubt, ask them what they need or what you can do for them.

    Nobody knows what you need like you do! If you’re at a loss, just ask your friend what would help. Maybe they need you to go with them to do a scary errand or they could really go for a coffee or they would just like it if you two could sit in silence and ignore each other (read separate books, do whatever on separate laptops, etc. – I’m all about super low-key chillin’).

  6. Don’t put too much pressure on them to cheer up or be happy.

    There is a lot of focus in society on being thankful for what you have and staying positive and that’s cool and all, but it leads some of us to be a bit overzealous about pushing our happy-world philosophies on other people. Sometimes people are sad, and that’s fine. It’s important to feel your feelings, and when it’s time to let them go, then do that. No need to rush to that part, not for you, and not for your friend.

    I’m sure there’s plenty of important things I’ve forgotten. I’m sure I’ll write another post like this in the future, but if you can come up with something, then feel free to write it in the comments.

    okthxilybye

Helpful Hints for Starting Your New Year Right – January 2016

January 1 – Refuse to take anyone’s crap. There is absolutely no need to be everyone’s dumping ground. As soon as someone starts giving you crap, you point one fabulous finger in their face, say a very firm “No.” And off you strut.

January 2 – Do you, baby. Wear your favorite t-shirt, your favorite dress, your favorite tie. Do your makeup all pretty or throw some gel in your hair. Whatever makes you feel good.

January 3 – Eat an avocado. They’re so good for you. Get a good ripe one (pull back the stem: green means go, brown means no, and a defiant stem means it’s not yet ripe), sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and eat it plain or on toast. Your body will thank you.

January 4 – Put on some upbeat music as soon as you get up in the morning. Dance music, party music, whatever gets your heart pumping and gets you in a good mood. Face your day with optimism, but like, aggressively.

January 5 – Write to three of your friends…it can be over social media, it can be a handwritten letter, or a text message, or whatever. Pick three people you care about but don’t get in contact with much, and tell them that you care about them and are happy to have them in your life.

January 6 – Pick a quiet time in your day to write down ten things you’re grateful for. It can be hard to come up with ten, but it can be something simple, like that you’re glad you have a roof over your head or that you are no longer in high school.

January 7 – Try to fight negative self-talk. Everytime you see yourself in the mirror today, try to smile and think something nice about yourself, and if anybody’s got something negative to say, now’s your chance to punch them in the eye. Go for it, I believe in you.

January 8 – Go for a walk. Literally, just take fifteen minutes and walk around the block and breathe in some fresh air. Plug into your iPod if that’s what you’re into. Let the world feast upon your glory.

January 9 – Pick a word to sneak into conversation as many times as you can. Try to subconsciously get other people to say it. I like doing this with the word “indeed.”

January 10 – Go through your living space and throw out the trash, wash the dishes, put some cleaner in the toilet, and put away your clothes. If you feel motivated to continue cleaning after that, good for you. If not, that’s okay. What are you, anyway, some kind of cleaning wizard?

January 11 – Turn to the ever-helpful internet and learn a few basic phrases in sign language (“hello,” “good-bye,” “thank you.”) It’s so important to try to break down communication barriers, and this is one very easy – but very effective – way to do it.

January 12 – Listen to some new kind of music. Like, you know those bands that you’ve heard of, but you’ve never heard any of their songs? Just pick one and listen to a random song on YouTube or Spotify or whatever you use. You could discover your next ANTHEM.

January 13 – Before you go to bed tonight, open the window for, like, ten minutes. You’ll sleep so much better with fresh air in the room.

January 14 – Draw a picture of a random animal: a cat, a giraffe, an elephant, whatever. Hide it somewhere for your family or roommate or SO to find. If you live alone, put it in the windshield wipers of somebody’s car. Pretend you had nothing to do with it. Extra points if the animal has sunglasses.

January 15 – Change the background on your computer to something that will make you really happy and motivated every time you see it. It’s so important to surround yourself with things that make you want to LIVE.

January 16 – At the end of your shower, rinse your body and hair with cold water. It’s especially good and hydrating for your skin.

January 17 – Rediscover your youth. Disney movies, Spongebob marathon, legos, coloring books, Lunchables – savor the things you loved as a kid.

January 18 – Call a random local business and tell them you won’t be in for your shift today. Go into a detailed story about how you’ve felt this cold coming on for a while but now it’s really taking a toll on you and you just need to stay in bed and rest for the day. Be sure to apologize for any inconvenience.

January 19 – Catch up on the news. Do you even know what’s going on the world? Learn something about current events so you have something meaningful to discuss with your friends. Bonus points if it’s from an independent/reputable news source and not, like, Fox.

January 20 – Take a selfie. Take the most beautiful selfie you can. Post it on Facebook. When people tell you that you look great, reply “I know.”

January 21 – Send a postcard to someone who lives in the same city. Refuse to acknowledge that it was out of place in any way.

January 22 – Take pictures of your stuffed animals doing various everyday things. Send them to people. If you don’t have any stuffed animals, then I don’t even know how I can help you, you soulless bastard.

January 23 – Learn some geography. I recommend this site. It’s easy enough to learn if you just invest a bit of time, and it’s something too few people take the time for. Besides that, it’s kind of fun. You’ll probably make a lot of mistakes at first, but the more you play, the better you get.

January 24 – Cuddle up with blankets, a hoody or sweater, warm socks, and some tea or hot chocolate. Watch a documentary.

January 25 – Imagine you were your own little sister or brother. What would Big Sister/Brother You say to encourage Little Sister/Brother You? Try some gentle self-talk. Ease your mind. Tell yourself that everything will be okay.

January 26 – Break the routine and do something a little bit different today, even if it’s just brushing you teeth with your non-dominant hand (or your feet, I guess, if you’re ambidextrous, really flexible, and don’t already do that). It’s good for staying mindfully aware of your surroundings, for being present.

January 27 – Walk into your workplace or school, start slapping people, and declare that you are now in charge. Repeat slaps for anyone who defies you. It works for cats, so why not for humans?

January 28 – If you want to call anyone today, lay down, put the phone on  your forehead, and telepathically tell them to call you. If they don’t, accuse them of not accepting you as a superior mental force and for not being open to your powers.

January 29 – Go to your workplace/school wearing some ribbons and gift wrap. Get creative, but don’t restrict your ability to move. When people ask  you why, say with a straight face, “I may not be the gift this office/school/etc. deserves, but I am the gift this office/school/etc. needs right now.”

January 30 – Get your body moving – go for a jog, hit the gym, dance around in your room, learn some yoga positions. Whatever. The point is you’re moving.

January 31 – Ask a friend you haven’t seen in a while to meet you for coffee. Ask them how their year has been so far. Don’t shame them if they weren’t able to keep up with their original resolution. Remind them there are 11 months left of 2016 and they have your full support.