I just returned from my quick trip to Little Rock, Ark., and feel I must type this post before bed because my brain is snapping with a zillion things to say and thoughts to complete. And before I get to that, here are pics by Jacob Slaton/Clinton School Photography of my visit today: http://clintonschoolphotography.com/p380377447
First of all, the students are just the best. Smart, sassy and genuine. What’s not to love about that? There I was, all kinds of vulnerable, ready to tell my sad little tale to a group of people who have witnessed some pretty heavy hitters speak. Yet, they made me feel welcome, appreciated and just so, so blessed.
In the giddy afterglow of an awesome first public speaking engagement, I want to post here some better answers to questions I was asked in the Q+A. As I’ve mentioned before, I try to be super careful about speaking on sexual assault only as I know it through my experience. That being said, some of the questions asked to me today really made me think and I want to address them here. I am going to ask the Clinton students who were in the room today to get these answers to these folks if at all possible.
1. To the Clinton Student (dark, short hair with bangs sitting in back) who asked me what I think about college girls and drinking, and what I would say to colleges on how to approach this topic..My answer, now that I have thought some more on it, is..”How are we engaging men on college campuses? Men are raping women. Are we having the dialogue with them? Are we hammering home the idea that they must be part of the solution? Are we relating it back to the women in their lives so that they have a less distant perspective on the matter. And are we hammering home the idea that alcohol is a rapist’s best friend? Alcohol is the excuse that keeps rapists from going to jail and women from getting justice. Is there some kind of campaign that can attack alcohol use and its link to sexual assault in a way that resonates with college kids? “Real men don’t rape.” or “Alcohol = Rape’s best friend.” I just refuse to continue to put women into a box by piling on to the list of things they should do to avoid being raped. In essence, we are telling them they must be PERFECT. Yes, I believe girls and women need to learn self-defense because once you take such a class, I believe you will automatically think differently on how to approach certain situations. But why don’t we come at this via the men for a change and how pathetic it is to rape women?
**Please note, an Arkansas Tech student asked me a similar question during the Q+A and I know that campus is efforting a campaign to combat sexual assault on campus, so I hope maybe I’ve given her/them some food for thought.
2. To the woman who works with immigrants living stateside who are assaulted and asked me for advice regarding the difficulties they have in conveying the details of the crime to interpreters: HAVE THEM WRITE DOWN EVERY DETAIL AS THEY REMEMBER IT, WHEN THEY REMEMBER IT, IN THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE. I could kick myself for not thinking of that sooner. It was incredibly important in my case that I wrote every detail down and made it the ultimate record of what happened to me. My report was 9 pages long. I submitted it to the Public Prosecutor because I felt the police report lacked important information (it did, police reports are treetop info only). If these women do the same, the truth and every important detail is recorded first rather than having the only version come after an interpreter has intervened. I hope that makes sense.
Today, was a huge day. It represented two years of gut-wrenching highs and lows, and a promise I made to myself about how I would help others if I ever got the chance. Women came up to me after the speech today and told me about how they were assaulted, how their loved ones were assaulted and suffering. And it tore at my heart, good and bad. That’s what I want. I want them to talk about it, to me, to their families, and to their friends, and in doing so, loosen the mental vice lock the assault has had on them. I want the ugly, painful details to tumble out of their mouths and out of their lives.
Can you tell I am pumped? I am so elated. Thank you, Jesus. I will post the video link as soon as it’s up so you can see what I talked about.
Update: Here is the link to my speech and the Q+A after
Thank you so much for coming and speaking with us. I got nearly half of a page of quick ideas for out Red Flag Campaign at ATU. Listening to your story really helped focus my mindset on what we are trying to accomplish here.
My students and I very much enjoyed and appreciated your presentation yesterday. Thank you.
Concerning the “engagement of men,” this is a huge part of our effort…exploring and redefining definitions of masculinity. While early efforts have been aimed at making women aware and teaching them to take precautions, it has recently become apparent that the engagement of men is necessary. If you would like more information please send me an email. I would be happy to send you some sources.
I will be in touch about our Red Flag Campaign at ATU. I would appreciate your advice.