(Side note: I feel so privileged to have this year unwinding with amazing learning experiences, and I am so excited to know what more there is to be unfolded.)
Sexual assault. A physical attack of a sexual nature on another person or a sexual act committed without explicit consent; one that results to lasting effects of psychological and emotional harm.
Insert statistics) (No. Some active learning would do. Statistics for this are all over the net, perhaps you could check them out for yourself. Absolutely shocking. And shattering.)
As I write this, I have in mind people who may have been sexually assaulted or verbally harassed. People who innocently walk the pavement to a dumbfounding, disrespectful and thoughtless glance from the onlookers. Cat-calling. Those who have been raped in the comfort of their homes… by people they well know, and trust. Or rather, used to trust. I am thinking of young kids who have been violated, and turned into objects of sexual satisfaction to some awful, demonic, pedophilic humanoids. I have in mind vibrant humans whose lives have lost meaning and colour, and they live every single day of their lives in the skin that they absolutely hate. Skin that they no longer feel at home in; occupying the same like a church-mouse in the good, old , legendary St. Peter’s Cathedral. In constant battle with the voices inside their heads, saying to themselves that they can survive another day. Constantly replaying the scene of that horrendous day when they were stripped of their dignity; constantly trying to shut out the painful, icky sensation of creeping demons in that shameless face of a (wo)man. Remembering all those that silenced their stories, and deemed them irrelevant or false….
Hey, it’s not your fault.
I understand it has been drilled into most of our minds that the victim is always the one on the wrong. It’s either because “her outfit was suggestive” or “she was drunk and acted like she wanted it” or, all other sorts of trashy nonesense. Has it occurred to you, genuinely, that perhaps…maybe, just maybe, the initiator of the act is the real problem here?
James Allen in his book “As a Man Thinketh” he says “…a particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances….men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.”
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the perpetrator is not a first-timer. There has been a notion of the same multiple times in his or her mind, that they chose to embrace and eventually initiate. Regardless of how the victim looked at that moment in time, I remain sceptical that that could be a key reason to cause rape.
Literally anyone is at risk of being raped, for whatever crazy reason…like, you know, someone who just consiously decides and has the audacity to let in on themselves in someone (body) temple. I know, it’s crazy.
Perhaps in our diverse communities, rape is a taboo subject. Many shun from speaking about it, or, doing anything about it. I propose though, that we take a minute today, as you read this (or whenever else you are in your right feels) to empathize with, first, all those who have been victims of sexual assault. Second, with ourselves. At a very individual level, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has been affected by the same. I believe it won’t be a pleasant feeling, even just from imagining, listening or reading a victim’s testimony. Think of the influence you could exert in your immediate community and social circles, (starting with yourself of course) that could help alienate and/or nullify this awful burden of sexual assault.
- It could be that you need to enlighten yourself about what exactly sexual assault is and be well informed of what it comprises. (Or better yet, jump right ahead and learn about “Rape Culture”).
- Share it with a friend or two. More people also sounds like a good idea.
- Make it a personal mission and decision not to stand by and watch somebody’s world crumble down while there is something that you can do about it. Do something! It might come at a cost, but that’s what it means to be a brother’s keeper.
- It may call for an occasional rebuking of your friends who find that there’s is no problem making sexual (misogynistic/misandristic) comments about an individual who is not comfortable with it, or, to realise and enforce the idea that objectifying women (or men💁) is as wrong as it gets. (Yuck.)
- It calls for being fearless and true to yourself when the “locker-room” talk goes way overboard and you are convinced that whatever is on the table is wrong, so you stand up and out and speak for that which is true.
- It means being informed of toxic masculinity: it’s not cool to have managed to grope a bunch of ladies, and your friends literally cheer you on. (And you live with yourself clean?) Being aware that men too, can be victims of rape, and the belief that therapy/any sort of help source is for the weak, is wrong. In as much as it’s not outrightly expressed, men too have emotions (which is healthy), and any display of such is not a show of being timorous. The list is endless.
I don’t know. I just think that perhaps if we view each other like creatures from some synonymous pedigree, such that even though we may not necessarily have direct blood relations, there is some sense of collective security and interpersonal accountability; whence we become more conscious of our influence and actions, and how better we could live our lives. How better we could be informed of the things around us. Constantly learning. Constantly looking out for the best in others, and ourselves. Seeking to make life a tad more bearable and enjoyable for everyone, in a way that’s morally acceptable. #FoodforThought
Early this year, the senior students in my school organised a Community Service Event, in solidarity to the trending #MeToo, where we were all dressed in full black (symbolising the evils of sexual assault and harassment) and had open discussions on Sexual Assault and touched a bit on Rape Culture as well. The impact was significant, deeply appreciated and felt by a good most (if not all) of us. It not only led to enlightenment but also some confession and reconciliation within the student body. It was beautiful, and I feel like a reminder would be in order lest we forget. We all have a role to play.
(Picture Credits: Brian Muraya. He took a bunch of other lovely photos as well entitled “Collective Silence”.)