Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sexual Assault Is A Family Problem

This past Sunday, the New York Times published a story that has kept me awake at night.(see link below) A Freshman girl attending Hobart and William Smith College is sexually assaulted after going out to a series of college parties. Girl gets drunk. Boys get drunk. Boys see an opportunity. Boys seize an opportunity. Multiple boys sexually assault girl publicly over a pool table with a gaggle of people looking on. Girl goes to hospital, gets a rape kit done. Findings are that she has been sexually assaulted. Girl goes through humiliating college sexual assault hearing where she is emotionally re-victimized. Boys get their hands slapped, and return to play football for Hobart and William Smith where their team finishes #1 in their league. Hooray for them!

I have heard this story too often in the last year. Many from the newspaper and the media, just google sexual assault on college campuses and drunk high school parties. And some, I am sorry to say, first hand from parents who call me after their daughter has been the victim. Who is to blame? I won't play the blame game. But I will continue to teach parents how best to teach their sons and their daughters to be safe and respectful both to others and themselves.

Please read this article out loud at your dinner table. There are sections that will make it hard to finish your dinner. That is the point. Lecturing about self-respect, and respect for women in theory is great, and I'm sure it is something you have been doing since the birth of your children. But when they are in a situation like this girl or these boys, would they really know what to do?

Do your young boys have access to porn on their smartphones. Have you blocked adult sites from their phone, do you even know how to do it? Find out!!! The latest research is showing that when boys, even young boys have easy access to misogynistic porn, that their brain literally changes and makes connections about women and sex. If you have a steady diet of watching women being sexually humiliated and assaulted by men, you might begin to see that as sexually normal behavior instead of sexually deviant behavior. Lecturing about respect for women will fall on deaf ears when those sexual hormones are in play. Whatever part of the brain that lecture is buried, is not in activation when booze, testosterone, and images of anal sex are in play.

How is respect for women modeled in your home? I'll just leave that statement on the table for you to ponder. But remember that how relationships are modeled in your home, is the model your kids take out into the world as they experiment with relationships.

I once had a mom tell me that her daughter came to her when she was a sophomore in High School and asked for birth control. Why, the mom asked, you don't even have a boyfriend. The girl answered: "no, but I might get drunk one night, and hook up, wouldn't want to get pregnant" she said casually.

Your boys and your girls need your help. You need to educate, not lecture. Lecture is talking at someone, educate is to engage, to discuss, to share information. Find as much information as you can, real stories like this one. Discuss them, debate them, strategize, and problem solve around them. Talk about alcohol and how it changes them and affects behavior and judgement and the ability to stay safe. Teach them what consensual sex really means. It does not mean having sex with with someone so trashed they don't even know what is going on. The absence of consent is not consent. Teach them!!

And if your son is an athlete, teach them that having a skill set that includes aggressiveness and power on the ice or on the field, does not give them the right to use it in any other situation, and should be left on the field and on the ice.

Talk about alcohol and drugs, over and over again, consistently, every time they leave the house. Talk and teach them the danger of binge drinking.  Teens drink fast and furious, believing that "they don't feel anything yet."Teach them about blood alcohol levels, and how many drinks it takes to go over the legal limit when impairment occurs. Not many!! This is not about drinking and driving, this is about drinking and sexual assault. This is about boys deciding that a drunk girl dancing sexy means "she wants it" and then "giving it to her." Teach your boys that is not consent. That is someone compromised by booze. Teach your girls that getting trashed means they leave their power at the door. Help them to strategize with their friends to keep each other safe, even when it seems like their friend doesn't want help. That is when they need the most help!!!!! Teach them!!!!!!!!


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