Back to the Basics: Why Sexual Assault Prevention Begins with Consent
“It took me listening to you for me to realize that I’ve been raped twice.”
WOW! It boggles my mind that any young lady wouldn’t recognize when she’s being raped. Why is that?
Is it because girls are so desperate for attention from a guy that they are willing to do whatever he wants just to get it, including having sex unwillingly?
Or is it that they have been conditioned to believe that what they want doesn’t matter?
Do they think so little of themselves and their bodies that they don’t believe they have the right to decide what happens to their bodies?
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month, I thought it important to shed light on an issue that is more pervasive than most parents realize.
The Problem Defining the Culture
Sadly, I have enough letters from teen girls sharing their sexual assault stories, that I could post one every day for months.
And I’ve read way too many letters from girls who tell me that they wouldn’t say they were raped; they just didn’t want to have sex.
Or they say, they succumbed to pressure and just “let it happen,” like the young lady below:
Eventually, I got tired of trying to fight him off me, so I just lay there and let it happen…I stayed with him for three more months after that.
Whether the above young lady recognizes it or not, what she experienced was rape. Something I talk about in Chapter Three of my book, 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You.
There’s the girl who says NO; then there’s the girl who feels no. She just doesn’t say it. But when the sex is over, they both feel violated.
Which was the case for a 22-year-old waitress I met one Saturday, while sitting in a coffee shop working on my book.
She asked what I was writing, and we began to discuss the book. When the topic of date rape came up, I told her how amazed I was by how many girls have a hard time even acknowledging that they were raped.
That’s exactly what happened to me. I was the one who just let it happen and for the next 5 years I walked around with a weight on my shoulders because I blamed myself. I would say that I shouldn’t have been there that night. If I had fought harder maybe it wouldn’t have happened. It wasn’t until a year ago that I finally let the words come out of my mouth, ‘I was raped. It wasn’t my fault. I shouldn’t have had to fight.’ And when I finally acknowledged that I was raped, I felt this huge weight lift off my shoulders because I finally stopped blaming myself for what happened.
Thankfully the waitress I met found a way to release the burden of rape she carried for years. But that didn’t happen until she called the horrific event she survived what it was—rape.
She. never. gave. her. consent.
And that is at the root of today’s rape culture.
We’ve got to get back to the basics of teaching guys and girls – your sons and daughters – what constitutes consent. If not, stories like the one below will continue to be commonplace.
I never told anybody. You have been the first. This happened almost three years ago. I feel like I’ve lost my voice. I sometimes think it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have been there, I shouldn’t have said yes, then said no; but today I realize I was raped without my consent. Now, all that weight has been lifted.
Help Your Daughter Find Her Voice
When we empower girls to find their voice, we equip them to experience their victory – even if they’re rape survivors.
The following tips will help get you started with your own daughter.
- Beginning at a young age, educate your daughter about the correct terminology for the parts of her body, particularly her sex organs.
- If your daughter is a tween, now is the time to define what rape/sexual assault is so she’ll be able to recognize it God-forbid, it should ever happen.
- If your daughter is a teen, start having conversations with her about consent. Specifically, that she has the right to say No. That No is a complete sentence. That under no circumstances should she feel guilty about her decision to say No. Then have her practice saying No out loud.
- Encourage your daughter to set boundaries for herself and the guy she’s dating. Let her know that a guy’s unwillingness/refusal to respect her boundaries is a major red flag and she needs to end the relationship immediately.
**Note: I’ve put together a new 7-part video series on Boundaries as a resource for teen girls. Make sure your daughter checks it out on Facebook or Instagram.
- Keep an open-door policy so your daughter will feel safe to talk to you about what’s going on in her relationships. Should she ever find her voice to tell you that she’s been raped, believe her! Then make sure she knows it was NEVER her fault.
Then you came along and told me that it was not my fault and I was not damaged goods. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words mean more to me than I ever thought they would.
Our Marching Orders
If we want to wipeout the rape culture, we can’t afford to relegate sexual assault awareness and prevention to April alone. As caring adults, we must do our part to make sure our boys/sons know that when a girl says NO, that’s it. No questions asked. No pressure applied.
And we must make sure our girls/daughters know that they have the right to say NO. No explanations needed. No guilt necessary.
For more information and resources about sexual assault awareness month and prevention, go here.
FREE DOWNLOAD: 7 Things Every Parent of a Teen Needs to Know Before Having “The Talk” Want to discover more ways you can help your daughter make good choices? Learn more in this FREE eBOOK.
And don’t forget to have your daughter check out my new Boundaries video series on Facebook or Instagram.