Abuse And Assault
It’s likely that you will or already do know someone who will experience or has experienced trauma of some form. As friends, it’s important that we understand the responsibilities and limitations of our role, so we can best support our friends who are survivors and maintain our boundaries. Has someone disclosed to you a traumatic experience they’ve had? How can you best support that person and yourself? Here’s some information about trauma, the role of friends, and what it means to really support survivors.
"Those of us that identify within the QTBIPOC community cannot take off our skin the same way we cannot remove our gender and/or our sexuality. We have to continue to have conversations about all of the disparities that are going on. There is not just one way we are affected."
The term itself is insufficient and sounds oddly trivial. The word ‘stealth’ has various associations in the Oxford English Dictionary (2020), including ‘secretly and without right or permission’, ‘clandestinely’, ‘furtive’. A stealth action happens quickly and slyly, like the swiping of an appetising sweet by a small child before their parent sees. But stealthing does not just happen surreptitiously, swiftly, or without the total awareness of the victim.
When my assault happened, I was stunted in my sexual exploration, and I had no choice but to start anew. I’ve learned it will always be an ongoing battle for me, but a possible feat. Scarleteen readers confronting a comparable situation should know there’s hope for you too. Reclaiming our right to pleasure combats apathy by demonstrating our capacity to enjoy again. While we can’t reverse rape, recovery begins when we remember we have alternatives.
Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, in many households, the strains of closed schools, lost jobs, health issues, and close quarters mean that tensions are high, tempers are short, and privacy has become a luxury. If you’re a young queer person who is now isolated with trans- or homophobic family members, you probably know that better than anyone. Here are a few ideas to help you stay as physically and emotionally safe as possible during these difficult days.
Fantasy is an important part of our relationships with ourselves and our sexual desires. But it can also be a source of shame. How can we find ways to reconnect with our sexual fantasies and create a healthy relationship with desire.
The news is full of the wrong ways to try to have sex. Forever we’ve seen high profile men – almost always men – chasing people for sex, abusively. For the last few years, some high-profile men have been held at least a little accountable for it, which means it is not always swept under the rug anymore. But now that the abuse is more visible, if you stare into that abyss long enough, it might start to stare back at you. You could end up lying on your bed wondering if being a guy while being horny is somehow inherently tainted and gross. Most of us want to find someone or a few someones, for relationships or hookups, but right now, looking at some of that foulness, it might feel like trying to find a partner is a minefield of red flags because men’s sexuality is inextricably abusive. It isn't.
I know that isn’t news to anyone, but I think we forget that sometimes when trying to help our friends or family members who are going through it. We expect them to act “rationally,” like we would, or like we want them to. But sexual assault is traumatic, and making decisions during and after trauma is complicated. Decisions about who to talk to - the police, a healthcare provider, a friend, a teacher - can feel incredibly complicated. Are they going to believe me? Are they going to listen to me? Are they going to call the police even though I don’t want that? What is going to happen next?
What is sexual harassment likely to look like in your life, or the lives of your friends? And what can you actually do about it, whether you’re the target of it, trying to avoid harming people yourself, or you’re the friend of someone who’s being harassed at work?
Some forms of abuse, like physical abuse or some kinds of sexual assault, are more easily identified by victims or witnesses. Conversely, gaslighting is a type of non-event, a toxic presence that chips away at a person’s wellbeing over time. Gaslighting is a powerful abuse tactic, although a lesser known one. It is notoriously difficult to understand and recognize, especially for a victim.