#metoo #IBelieveYou

me tooIf you have noticed the #metoo in your Twitter or Facebook feed it means that the women you consider either virtual or physical friends and family have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Let me rephrase that. The women you value and believe are worth being connected to, have publicly posted that they have either been raped, physically molested, or verbally abused.

My timeline is filled with that hashtag. These women are baring their soul to the world so men like myself can understand just how prevalent this is in our culture. The worst part is there are probably more women who do not want to publicly relive their trauma and are staying silent (for which they should take 0 blame).

Here are what the stats say:

  • On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. Link

  • Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault. Link

Rape and sexual assault start at 12 years old! We have to use this data to inform our students NOW! This means starting in 5th or 6th grade we have to talk to both our boys and girls about this. There is no time to waste.

  • As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape. Link

  • 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 90% of adult rape victims are female. Link

  • Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Link

  • Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely. Link

There is no question that women are the most vulnerable to rape and sexual assault. No one deserves this. Not a female wearing a short skirt or one wearing a parka. You can not ask to be sexually harrassed or sexually assaulted. When we teach our girls that wearing certain clothing will bring unwanted attention what we are really saying is that men can not control themselves so you have to make sure not to draw their eyes on you.

  • As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape. Link

  • About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Link

  • 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male. Link

Although #metoo is about women who have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted it does happen to men too. I am not writing this to derail nor detract from the hashtag at all. We do have to understand though that it does happen to men against their will. We have to get rid of the men can’t be raped culture.

21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males. Link

You see the stat. It needs to be addressed in our schools so our students who are TGQN and go to college understand the risks they are facing.

  • 94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape. Link

  • 30% of women report symptoms of PTSD 9 months after the rape. Link

  • 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide. Link

  • 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide. Link

  • Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime. Link

This affects women for the rest of their lives. One of my friends told me she can recall every detail of her ordeal that was almost 20 years ago.

We could go on and on about how women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, lower life expectancies, and poorer job performance. It destroys women’s lives. We need to address this in schools. One way to do this is to show this video called Tea Consent. It really hammers home what consent is taking that abstract concept and putting it as concretely as a cinder block for our students. Charlie Rizzuto also just shared this rap about consent from Andy Horne. If you want more ideas about how to teach about consent, sexual abuse, and sexual assault I would recommend getting in touch with High School National Health Teacher of the Year Andy Milne (@carmelhealth). He has a million resources and a couple of blog posts he can link you to.

Finally, I would like to thank Steve Isaacs who credits Christina Marie with the idea of the #IBelieveYou. The statistics are out there. We need to start supporting the women who come out and report the sexual abuse and sexual harassment they are receiving when they report it. It’s time that we stop pretending that the .0000001% chance of someone lying is enough to wait until the evidence comes in. At the very least we need to stop victim blaming and worry about what they were wearing, what they had to drink, or why someone went to a hotel room. All of that is immaterial. The only time someone should drink tea is when they choose to. (watch the video)

To all the women who have had made the public sacrifice to step forward with your story #IBelieveYou.

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