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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Rape "Prevention"

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Author Topic: Rape "Prevention"
sanddunes
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In middle school I remember a unit in phys ed where girls were taught something called rape prevention. Included in this unit were things like just shouting at the top of your lungs and how to twist your wrist out of a persons grasp and to knee them in the junk.

Since middle school I have been raped twice. In neither situation would any of the tactics they tried to tell me would possibly save my life even remotely change the circumstances. So, I wonder, however pessimistic it may be, if this rape "prevention" we're taught is really something useful or just some feel good mush that they teach us to make themselves feel better, and us less helpless.

Posts: 3 | From: pa | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I'm sorry you've been assaulted.

Not knowing the whole of what you were taught in that unit, it's hard to say.

Self-defense courses do tend to be useful for many people and many women. And self-defense techniques can successfully be used to evade or get out of attacks: unfortunately, they're just not a guarantee. As well, a lot of self-defense courses only address attacks from strangers, which are less common (per rape, mugging, etc. is different) than attacks from known assailants, and that tends to be more complex emotionally and interpersonally.

I was assaulted more than once myself, before I was ever taught anything like this or before there was even any kind of cultural conversation against rape. I later not only learned self-defense, I've taught it as well. I also have had to use those skills once or twice -- or look ready to use them -- and they did work for me.

Looking back? In one of my assaults those skills would have made a huge difference, and likely easily gotten me out of the attack. In another, because it was a group of men and boys, I did fight like hell, but there were just too many of them for me to deal with.

I'd be happy to talk more with you about self-defense, what's useful and what isn't in my view and what the limitations of self-defense can be, but I think it's also important to say that it's always disappointing when girls are taught self-defense, but NO rape prevention efforts are made with boys, especially efforts that do the best we can to prevent rape: giving boys clear messages about what rape is and how it is NOT okay. Putting the whole onus of prevention on potential victims instead of potential attackers is not only short-sighted, it's also strongly sexist and in some ways can even enable rape (by sending the message it's up to victims to prevent rape, not potential rapists).

[ 11-19-2009, 11:46 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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sanddunes
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I never thought about rape prevention for boys, but then you'd have to teach some portion of that to girls too because not all rapists are men so by only teaching that portion to men itd be sexist too.

In one instance where I was raped I was drugged, but I did everything right by the book. Got my drink and opened it by myself. Never let it leave my sight or my hand. Just for me, none of what they told us could have worked. At all. Its frustrating to think I've spent all this time trying to prevent these things from happening and its just futile.

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Heather
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Agreed: but when we are talking about rape, expressly (rather than other kinds of abuses), over 95% of rapists are male. But that aside, and in agreement with what you said about sexism, the best bet would be to teach EVERYONE both how to protect themselves best AND why not to rape, with the emphasis being more on the latter.

I wouldn't say it's futile, just that nothing is guaranteed, and so far, what they taught you (which again, may not have been great in the first place) hasn't been useful to you. But it, or other self-defense, still might. I totally hear and understand your frustration, though. It's very hard to live with the knowledge that sometimes, no matter what we do, we can't keep ourselves safe.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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sanddunes
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Its just. Idk how to deal with it really. Like now am I supposed to go on living a normal life when I know that if someone really wanted to they could rape/mug/assault/whatever me and there's nothing I could do about it. Idk. Its stupid.
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Heather
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I understand.

Personally, I grew up knowing, from an incredibly early age, about violence. In both sides of my family, there is a history of it, and one of my earliest memories in life is of my paternal grandparents and my 13-y-o uncle being killed by a drunk driver. Both my parents also grew up with severe physical abuse in their families.

So, for me, I think it may have been slightly easier to deal with just because violence has never surprised me. It makes me very angry and sad, but it's not like my assaults were the first time it hit home that sometimes our world just isn't safe, if you get what I mean.

I do think one thing that is helpful to know about rape in particular is that MOST people are NOT rapists and will not rape or attempt to rape. Folks like you and me who have been assualted before, and more than once, are an unfortunate minority: while many people are raped, the majority are not.

I also don't think it's helpful to figure there is nothing you could do to prevent an attack or assault just because that one set of prevention tools you were given have not worked for you. It may be those lessons were poor, for instance; that those particular tools weren't the best ones. It may also be that in your unique assaults, those tools were not useful: that doesn't mean they aren't in other situations.

But again, I don't know what you were taught. For instance, if knee strikes to the groin were the only physical defense you were taught, then yes, that certainly is limited in it's use. if yelling was the only evasive tactic you were told, again, that certainly is limited.

Do you think you'd feel better if -- now that you're older -- you took a bonafide self-defense class, one probably better than what was taught in jr. high?

[ 11-19-2009, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I just wanted to add that at my school last year (in grade nine) some of the male gym classes actually did get the same self defense lessons as we did.

Edited to add: although the lesson was very limited, did not focus on why not to rape, and not all the male gym classes got the lesson.

[ 11-19-2009, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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~moonlight

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Andymax33
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Have you talked to anyone about it? A boyfriend? A husband?
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orca
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(Hey Andy, we try not to assume people's sexual orientation here, so please keep in mind that not everyone is heterosexual. Too, partners aren't counselors. With these types of issues, it's best to talk with a trained counselor and have a partner as a support person, not the main person you talk to.)

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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