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abuse

Why we don't always know

(Heads-up: parts of this post are fairly explicit when it comes to detailing rape and abuse.)

One of the more interesting (and by interesting, I mean ridiculously ignorant) responses I have seen in a few places discussing the I Was Raped project and my input was my statement on the news that the first time I was assaulted -- at the age of 11 -- I did not know what had happened to me and was without any language to even express it.

This is being met with some measure of disbelief by a few folks, or the assumption I was on drugs or had been drugged or that I was simply stupid. My personal favorite was that I'm a young girl who only called my rapes rape after being brainwashed by Jennifer and feminism, a newfangled notion she apparently just clued me into recently. Who knew I was such a late bloomer, and that I was somehow able to grow up in the 70's in a progressive Chicago neighborhood with a single mother, an activist father, and managed to never hear about feminism? Wowza.

I think

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(Wo)men Speak Out

An organization dedicated to eradicating rape, sexual assault and gender violence which seeks to educate both men and women, cultivating healthy relationships and gender equity.

The Revolution Will Be Televised (and I'll find a way to be okay with that)

My plans for last weekend were pretty mellow: I was going to work on my taxes, do a little housecleaning, maybe get started on my garden now that the sun is back out, hang out with my sweetheart, finish some writing, practice piano and play some Scrabble. I was going to tend to myself, for the most part.

The weekend I would up having was quite a bit different.

Last Wednesday, I raced against the clock -- I had to go work at the clinic the next day -- to get everything up for our focus this month on sexual assault and abuse as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. That included getting together a page and other materials for the "I Was Raped" shirts which months back, I'd agreed to help Jennifer Baumgardner distribute as part of a project to increase rape awareness, both through these t-shirts and the conversation we'd hoped they'd start, as well as through her developing film of the same name, which will focus on first-person stories from survivors.

The New York Times first covered

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Pandora's Aquarium

An online support group, message board, and chat room for rape and sexual abuse survivors with 24/7 peer support, access to links and resources, so no one ever needs to feel alone.

What's rape got to do with it?

Why does a sex-positive sexuality site like this one talk about rape and abuse so often?

We should all know by now that rape and sex are not the same thing, after all. And yet, over the years at Scarleteen, we've answered a lot of questions about rape and abuse, supported a lot of abuse and rape victims and survivors, and we've got content about both housed on a site which is primarily about sexuality, sexual health and relationships.

One big reason is that an awful lot of us in the world -- and at this site -- are rape and abuse survivors, or people trying to get free of abuse. While our rapes or assaults certainly are or were not sex for us, they often impact our sexuality and our sex lives a whole lot. Sexuality doesn't exist in a vacuum: it's made up of all of who we are, and greatly influenced by the whole of our life experiences. In so many ways, rape and sexual assault can really hijack our sexuality, due to body memories -- the places we were assaulted tend to trigger painful

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10 Questions with Jennifer Baumgardner

Jennifer talks with us about her new project about rape, which we're participating in at Scarleteen, what the project can do to increase awareness about rape and survivors, where she thinks we're at culturally with rape issues, and what young people can do to help transform rape culture and their own lives.

Was my friend implying I brought my rape on myself?

Jessica asks:

I have been raped on several occasion throughout my youth. I am just now, as a 22-year-old woman dealing with these. My friend recently said to me, "Well since it happened to you once, then you are more susceptible to it happening again." It really offended me to hear this, and I wanted to know if it seems unfair to me to get upset. My whole thought process is, I already blame myself (and I know I shouldn't but what girl doesn't) why would you say something like that implying that I brought this on myself? Is that insensitive of me to feel that way?

Blinders Off: Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault

A basic lowdown on interpersonal abuse and assault: what all the terms mean, why strangers are the least of our worries, what a cycle of abuse looks like, how you can start seeing abuse for what it is, where it is, and how to protect yourself and others and make abuse stop.

He's my boyfriend, so how could it have been rape?

worried asks:

I was forced to have sex a few days ago and I'm worried I could have caught something. I have this itch that feels like it's on the walls of my vagina and I can't scratch it because, obviously, it's internal and I don't wanna make myself bleed. Does any infection have symptoms of an itch like that?

My boyfriend decided to take my virginity by force but can I call it rape? He is my boyfriend, but I didn't think I was ready for sex and he pushed it on me that night with a guilt trip. Please help.

I think he's going to leave me because I'm "loose"

Jenny asks:

I am 23 years old, and my husband and I have had a few arguments lately, about how he thinks I've been cheating on him. All is because my vagina is loose. We can have sex, say on a Saturday, and not have sex until say Wednesday, and my vagina is still loose. Or it can go for almost a month and I am still loose, barely back to the "tight" feeling. I was never like that before either, this has been happening for almost a year now. I was told that my birth control method (the ortho evra patch) could be causing something, since all of the estrogen it produces. If I changed my birth control, would it help it stop? I am not sure what else to do, I have never cheated on my husband, but if this keeps doing this, he might leave me because of it, and he doesn't believe me because of how I feel, and I can feel a difference when we have sex also. Is there anything I can do, tests or anything? Please let me know, I'm afraid and scared.

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