‘Brush off’ sends wrong message to victims

Published 1:47 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The numbers are scary.

Every 109 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault.

One in every 5 women in America has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

Sexual assault made its way in the headlines in recent days after an 11-year-old tape surfaced involving presidential candidate Donald Trump essentially bragging about forcing himself on women.

To me, this isn’t political. There’s a much bigger picture I’ve taken from this.

I’ve heard so many people say it’s just locker room talk or that so many women read “50 Shades of Grey.”

I think those making comments don’t always think beyond the surface. By brushing this off, what message are you sending to real-life victims? “Get over it, suck it up, you’ll live.”

Condoning sexual assault on anyone – man or woman – is just ludicrous.

A man I know actually had the audacity to say that men can’t help their sexual urges and that women should know this; therefore it’s a woman’s fault for being sexually assaulted.

Oh, no.

Perhaps the speakers don’t think laughing it off or brushing it off is condoning it, but it’s also not saying this is wrong.

As a victim you already feel violated because someone touched you without your permission in your most private areas. It’s hard to sleep at night. It’s difficult to eat. You become angry and depressed and you wonder if it’s your fault.

Oftentimes it’s a person close to you. Sometimes it’s the family’s breadwinner. For many there seems to be everything to lose by admitting aloud someone violated you. So you hide the pain and suck it up. Sometimes it stops; sometimes it continues; sometimes there’s another victim.

In my inner-circle of family members and close friends, there are five people who have had experiences of sexual assault.

One was molested as a teenager by her stepfather.

Another got drunk as a teenager at spring break and woke up naked with a man she didn’t know.

The third was sexually assaulted by another family member of hers.

One was abused by her father for years in another state.

And the fifth one was held at gunpoint and forced to perform sex acts on a man.

They were different ages when the attacks happened. They have individual ways of coping, but they’ve never gotten over it. The scars are still there.

Of those, only two people had the courage to step up and tell someone while it was going on.

One perpetrator is serving a life sentence. In the other incidence no one believed her. Let me say that again – no one believed her. A girl from a loving, Christian home, too, I might add.  No one is exempt from being violated like this.

It takes fortitude to get through a tragic event in one’s life.

So brushing off “locker room” talk to me isn’t what we should be doing. We should be telling our daughters, sons, wives, friends, mothers, and other family members that sexual assault of any kind is utterly repugnant, that if it happens, it’s not their fault and they should report it.

We also need to ensure that men (and women) are culpable for their unwanted advances and forcibly moving on someone.

Sorry, I’m not sorry, no matter how you try to swing it, sexual assault is never OK and laughing it off is essentially saying you think it’s acceptable.