On consent: the familiar face of sexual assault and abuse.

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April is Sexual Abuse/Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM, #SAAM). This is the second article I’m posting about the subject. Because the first step in fighting the silent epidemic of sexual crimes is awareness. You can read the first article, on how to support a survivor, by clicking here.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available by phone (800.656.HOPE) and online (online.rainn.org). Talk with someone who is trained to help anytime, 24/7.  

You’ve heard it before.

The old line that “no” never means “yes.”

But maybe that bears repeating.

NO NEVER MEANS YES.

According to RAINN, nearly 1/3 of sexual assaults are by people the victim knows. This means they’re in a situation where they ought to be able to say no, but the other party refuses to listen, refuses to respect, and at the end of the day, commits a crime with a lifetime of horrific implications.

The numbers are even more horrifying for minors. The majority of children under 18 who are abused, molested, and assaulted and who KNOW THEIR PERPETRATOR is a whopping 93%.

I can personally testify to the accuracy of this one. 

Those friendly little sleepovers? The relative who’s a little too touchy-feely and insists on getting a child alone? The coach, uncle, aunt, neighbor who takes a special interest in your child? There are warning signs…although many child molestors and family members who commit incest are often charismatic, the “life of the party,” likable, and pathological experts at hiding their crimes. I’ll post more about this topic later. (And click here for important information on warning signs.)

In the meantime, RAINN has a number of great resources on exactly what sexual consent is, and is not, including the article below, provided as a resource for #SAAPM.

Share this with someone you love.

Because no never means yes.

And learning those boundaries could save someone a lifetime of hurt.

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What Consent Looks Like

from RAINN.org

The laws about consent vary by state and situation. It can make the topic confusing, but you don’t have to be a legal expert to understand how consent plays out in real life.

What is consent? 

Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent, and some of those are discussed below. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries.

How does consent work in real life?

When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.

You can change your mind at any time. 

You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and wish to stop. The best way to ensure both parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it.

Positive consent can look like this:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level

It does NOT look like this:

  • Refusing to acknowledge “no”
  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state
  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past

Related:

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, you’re not alone. To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

Legal Disclaimer
The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website provides general information that is intended, but not guaranteed, to be correct and up-to-date. The information is not presented as a source of legal advice. You should not rely, for legal advice, on statements or representations made within the website or by any externally referenced Internet sites. If you need legal advice upon which you intend to rely in the course of your legal affairs, consult a competent, independent attorney. RAINN does not assume any responsibility for actions or non-actions taken by people who have visited this site, and no one shall be entitled to a claim for detrimental reliance on any information provided or expressed.

When statistics become survivors. Hope for #SAAM.

Did you know*:

  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
  • Fifteen percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
  • Seven percent of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  • Three percent of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  • In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
    Of these, 75% were girls.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victims.

Victims of sexual assault are*:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 6 time more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

And these after-effects often last for a lifetime.

If these statistics aren’t reason enough for you to become aware of (at the least) or become involved in the fight against sexual assault and abuse, maybe knowing that I was a child victim as well would help.

And as such, I’m here to tell you there’s hope.

I’m here to tell you there’s healing.

I’m here to tell you that “statistics” become survivors.

With your help.

April is Sexual Assault And Abuse Awareness Month. Visit RAINN or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for more information.

The issue of sexual abuse and assault is as old as humanity. It didn’t start with the #metoo movement. And like my other novels,  How Sweet the Sound, starts with the question of how do survivors find hope in the midst of the the hard and healing of sexual abuse?

How Sweet the Sound is a modern day retelling of the story of Tamar in the book of 2 Samuel in the Bible, a woman raped by her brother and left to live in desolation. In my book, however, the Tamar figure (named Comfort) learns to find hope and healing.

Share this story with someone you know today who needs hope, or even if you need to find hope, yourself.

In support of Sexual Assault and Abuse Awareness Month, How Sweet the Sound is available throughout April for just $2.99 for e-books/e-readers. 

*References available at https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims

Five ways to honor survivors and a book giveaway

Last evening I lost it.

See, I’d decided a while ago not to post or say anything about the whole disgusting Fifty Shades phenomenon (books, movies, all of it), because I didn’t want to give it any more air time than it was already getting. Not that my piddly little blog will add much, but even adding a little is too much. But last evening I realized that by staying silent I was breaking my promise to never be silent when it comes to survivors and victims of sexual assault and abuse. Long ago I adopted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s quote:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

And so last night I posted this online:

“I swore I’d refrain from saying a word about [Fifty Shades], because I didn’t want to add any attention to this disgusting phenomenon. But…even The Huffington Post gets it. And as a survivor and victim advocate, there is no doubt in my mind this whole book/series/movie and anything remotely in its genre are straight from the pit of hell. On behalf of silent victims, I swore always to speak when wrong is being done. This is wrong.”

Click here to read the Huffington Post article. Share it. Spread the truth about the lies perpetuated by these books, this movie. For the sake of women who are scared for their lives and who have lost their lives because of men like the one portrayed in this, and because of women who think it’s okay for men to abuse–because there are a lot of enablers around to who are excited about the sick things and porn in this series, too.

Before last evening, I had planned on writing this blog post for today, but I hadn’t planned on mentioning the book/movie. I simply wanted to give people positive, proactive alternatives to helping survivors and victims and people hurt by the sociopaths and lies that indicate abuse and porn are love. I’m not going to list the facts and reasons why Fifty Shades is wrong…because every single one of the organizations below are dedicated to saying it better.

Lest you think I’m a prude, visit even one of these sites, read the statistics, read the survivor stories, and then I dare you to come back and tell me you still think sexual deviance and the silence–or not so silent acceptance–surrounding it is AOK.

The fact is, sexual deviance starts with small, silent instances of abuse and escalates, gets covered up by money or lies or both, and then escalates some more.

We can–we must–do more.

I have three challenges for you today:

1) Read through and visit the websites of the organizations listed below. Pick one and donate whatever money you’d spend on a night at the movies to one of them. 

2) Enter to win a signed copy of my first novel, How Sweet the Sound, and if you win, give it to a friend who needs hope.

How Sweet the Sound is a modern day allegory of the story of Tamar from II Samuel 13. Tamar was raped and then abandoned by someone she trusted, someone who was supposed to care for and protect her, too. Then, Tamar was left to live out her life utterly destitute, because the crime was covered up by murder and by a King who did nothing to restore her. This is where the allegory stops and my novel starts, however. Because I know from experience that life after a crime like that doesn’t have to stop at destitute. No, I know that there is hope and healing after abuse. There is freedom from fear and the bondage of shame. And the characters in my story tell how they find hope and healing, too. 

3) If you feel led, memorize Philippians 4:8, and never forget that true love is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute. 

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Here are the organizations I find trustworthy and who are doing pretty amazing things for survivors, victims, and the prevention of sexually deviant behavior and crimes against children and women. Support one and make a positive difference in the fight against these horrendous evils today.

 

homepage-logos1. LoveIsRespect.org

Per their website: “The repercussions of teen dating violence are impossible to ignore – they hurt not just the young people victimized but also their families, friends, schools and communities. Throughout February, organizations and individuals nationwide are coming together to highlight the need to educate young people about dating violence, teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the devastating cycle of abuse. With their adult allies, youth activists achieved a major victory in 2005 and 2013 when the importance of addressing teen dating abuse was highlighted in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Loveisrespect.org is a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle. By combining our resources and capacity, we are reaching more people, building more healthy relationships and saving more lives.

“We designed loveisrespect.org to:

  • Create the ultimate resource for fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships.
  • Provide a safe space for young people to access information and get help in an environment that is designed specifically for them.
  • Ensure confidentiality and trust so young people feel safe and supported—online and off.

“We are proud to call loveisrespect.org the ultimate resource to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.

“Looking for more info about healthy relationships and respecting boundaries? Check out these pages on our site:

logo2. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), has worked since 1978 to make every home a safe home. NCADV works to raise awareness about domestic violence; to educate and create programming and technical assistance, to assist the public in addressing the issue, and to support those impacted by domestic violence.

logo3. RAINN

One of America’s 100 Best Charities
— Worth Magazine

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

images4. I Am One Voice and partner organization, OneVOICE4freedom

OneVOICE4freedom’s founder, Nicole Bromley, is an international spokesperson on child sexual abuse and trafficking. She is the author of Hush: Moving From Silence to Healing After Childhood Sexual Abuse, Breathe: Finding Freedom to Thrive in Relationships After Childhood Sexual Abuse and SOAR: A Film Series and Study Companion to Hush.

She speaks to universities all over the US, sharing her story and breaking the silence on sexual abuse and trafficking and is a guest expert for the media on such topics.For more info on Nicole’s personal story and books, visit http://www.iamonevoice.org.

Nicole began to expand her voice into the area of trafficking a few years into her public ministry after learning more about it and hearing story after story of sex trafficking survivors; she came to find a common thread—that beneath every domestic story, child sexual abuse had been occurring in the home. These trafficking survivors were running away from one trauma that Nicole could relate to and unknowingly they were falling into the arms of even further trauma by sly traffickers and those who purchase girls. Nicole felt called by God to be a voice against the injustice of trafficking as well. She stayed committed to her work as the founder and speaker and writer with OneVOICE but began to study, pray and get her hands dirty as a freedom fighter, bringing light into the dark world of sex trafficking, both domestically and internationally.

CGI-Logo-for-web5. The Center for Global Impact

This organization’s vision is to hope and pray for a future in which those we serve experience the freedom, dignity and fullness of life that comes when we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Center for Global Impact seeks to bring the Good News of Jesus to those in the grip of poverty and bondage through education, vocational training and business development. Primarily working in Cambodia, many of those we serve are victims of — or vulnerable to — human trafficking.

Visit their site to see several different ways you can get involved and/or support them.

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Book Giveaway Details

Leave a comment on this blog and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of How Sweet the Sound. One winner will be chosen at random (I put all the names in an online random name selector) and announced on Saturday, Valentine’s Day!

HOW SWEET THE SOUND 9781434705440_3D