Mental Health, Personal Blog

Stop Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual activity of contact that you do not consent to. Sexual assault can include:
 
  • Any sexual contact with someone who is unable to consent. (underage, disability, passed out, unable to respond).
  • Rape and attempted rape
  • Sexual coercion
  • Unwanted touching
  • Exposure
  • Forcing you to view sexual images
 
Sexual assault can also be non-contact such as verbal and non-verbal. This would be considered as:
  • Someone watching private sexual acts without consent.
  • Someone exposing themselves in private.
  • Sexual threats
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Forcing someone to take sexual pictures
  • Sending inappropriate text messages to someone.
 
You MUST have consent which means a clear yes or no answer to sexual activity. Being silent is not considered giving consent. Your consent means:
 
  • You know and understand what is going on and agree.
  • You know what you want to do.
  • You are able to say no if you don’t want to continue and you are able to say no at any time if you want to stop.
  • You are aware you are giving consent or saying yes to sexual activity.
In some cases, you are unable to give consent. This is important to know for both males and females because if it were to go to court even if consent was given at the time.
  • If you were threatened, forced or manipulated into agreeing to sexual activity.
  • If you were drunk, high, asleep, or passed out you are physically unable to consent.
  • Due to intellectual disability you can’t legally consent.
  • You are legally under age- this will vary by state.
 
There are many types of abuse against woman and while sexual abuse is not something that happens to woman but statistics show 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be sexually assaulted. Some of the other types of abuse against women are:
  • Dating Violence and abuse
  • Elder Abuse
  • Emotional and verbal abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Harassment
  • Human Trafficking
  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Coercion
  • Stalking
It can be difficult to know if you are being abused unless you are being hit. There are many different signs of abuse some are physical, emotional, verbal or sexual. This list and many of the others were found on (www.womenhealth.gov)
 
Signs of abuse include:
  1. Keeping track of everything
  2. Monitoring what you’re doing all the time or asking who you’re with every second of the day.
  3. Demands social media and email passwords.
  4. Demands you to reply right away to texts, calls and emails.
  5. Preventing or discourages you from seeing your friends or family.
  6. Prevents you from going to work or school.
  7. Being jealous, controlling or angry
  8. Acting very jealous, including accusing you of cheating
  9. Having a quick temper, you never know what you will do or say that may cause a problem
  10. Controlling how you spend your money
  11. Controlling how you use your medicine or birth control
  12. Making everyday decisions for you like what to wear or what to eat.
  13. Putting you down, insulting your appearance, intelligence or activities.
  14. Humiliating you in front of others.
  15. Destroying your property or things that you care about.
  16. Demeaning you and blaming you for their outbursts.
  17. Physically hurting or threatening to hurt you or your loved ones
  18. Threatening to hurt you, you’re children or others in the household.
  19. Hurting you physically (hitting, beating, pushing, punching, kicking, slapping and biting)
  20. Using or threatening a weapon against you
  21. Threaten to harm him when upset with you.
  22. Forcing you to have sex or other intimate activity
  23. Forcing you to have sex when you don’t want too.
  24. Assuming that consent for sex in the past was consent for the future also.
  25. Assuming that consent for one sexual activity means consent for increased levels of intimacy consent also.
Suggestions on if you have been raped:
  • Get to a safe place- call 911 as soon as possible.
  • DO NOT wash or clean your body.
  • Get medical care.
  • If you think you were drugged– talk to the hospital staff. The can run some tests to verify and see what you were given if you were drugged.
  • Reach out for help, whether it is friends or family, church pastor or leader.
  • Report the sexual assault to the police
  • If the person was a stranger try to write down everything you remember. Give this information to the police for the best chance of finding them.
Dating Violence and Abuse-
 
Dating Violence is when someone you are seeing romantically harms you. This would include emotionally, sexually, or physically.  There are many signs of abuse when dating. Even if you experience one of these signs it is never okay and not acceptable.  Some of the signs will look like the ones listed before so I will only mention a few but some of the major ones would be. forcing you into sex, being controlling, and trying to isolate you and a quick temper.
 
Digital Abuse-
 
Digital abuse is common among young adults but it is still capable of happening to anyone. With digital abuse it hasn’t been around as long as some of the other forms of abuse because technology has progressed so much over the years. Some of the signs of digital abuse include: repeated unwanted texts and calls. Social media harassment, using social media to check up on you and find out things about you. Sexting, demands passwords and immediate replies. If you were in a healthy relationship, you will respect your partner’s space and boundaries which we will talk about later.
 
Harassment-
 
Harassment is any unwelcome behavior or comments made by one person to another. Sexual harassment is when someone makes unwelcome sexual advances to you. Harassment can occur at home, work, school or even out in public. It can create a very hostile environment. All work and schools have policies in place for harassment to protect their employees or students. Sexual Harassment does NOT mean you are having sexual relations with the other person.
 
There are many different types of sexual harassment that happen at works and schools.
  • Verbal or written sexual harassment
  • Making comments about your clothing, body, behavior, or romantic relationships.
  • Makes sexual jokes or comments.
  • Repeatedly asking you out on a date after you said no.
  • Asking you to engage in sexual acts.
  • Requesting sexual photos.
  • Threatening you for saying no
  • Spreading personal or sexual rumors
  • Catcalling
  • Physical sexual harassment
  • Being uncomfortable close to you
  • Block you from moving
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Coercing you into sexual activity by threatening to hurt your career or reputation
  • Rape and sexual assault
  • Visual Sexual Harassment
  • Displaying or sharing sexual pictures, texts (sexting),
  • Flashing
  • Masturbating in front of you
There are some simple steps you can take to stop sexual harassment. Yet while they can be simple, they can be difficult to complete, such as:
  1. Just say “NO” and walk away.
  2. If saying no doesn’t work, tell them to stop the harassment immediately.
  3. Keep a record of everything that is going on.
  4. Report it whether it’s happening at work or school. You can go to Human Resources office or to the teacher, principle or student advocates.
  5. Research work or schools complaint procedure
  6. File a government discrimination complaint
Sexual Coercion
 
Sexual Coercion is unwanted sexual activity. This happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened or forced in a nonphysical way. You need to remember that NO ONE has power over you, especially over your body. You should never feel pressured to have sex with anyone. You owe no one sex, ever. If you are repeatedly being asked for sex by someone to the point that you are being worn down and are just going to give in and have sex that is abuse. It is also possible to be tricked into having sex. Sometimes you may even have an upper hand or authority figure use their power for sex. You may hear statements like “If you loved me, you’d have sex with me”, or “I’ll make it worth your while”.  You may also hear “I can make or break your career”.
 
Stalking
 
Stalking is repeated contact that makes you feel afraid or harassed. Someone can stalk you by following you or calling you constantly. Stalking is a crime and women are twice as likely to be stalked as men. If you are being stalked or even cyberstalked you may develop problems, I know I would and I did when I was being stalked and cyberstalked! There are many examples of stalking that include:
  • Following or spying
  • Sending letters or emails repeatedly
  • Unwanted calling repeatedly
  • Showing up uninvited
  • Leaving unwanted gifts
  • Damaging your property
  • Threatening you and your family
 
Some examples of cyber-stalking include:
  • Sending scary unwanted emails and texts
  • Harassment or threatening you on social media
  • Tracking your computer
  • Using technology to track your location
 
If someone is stalking you call 911 and find a safe place if you are being followed. You can request a restraining order if someone is stalking you but you will need evidence that you have been being stalked. Please don’t be afraid to report the abuse because it is a crime and they need to be punished for their crimes.
 
There are steps you can take if you are being stalked.
 
  1. File a complaint with the police department.
  2. Get a restraining order.
  3. Write down all incidents that occur, give as much detail as possible, provide pictures if you can.
  4. Evidence, the more evidence the better.
  5. Provide names of any witnesses that were with you for any of the incidents
  6. Get help from the domestic violence hotline 1-800-799-SAFE
  7. Tell people you are being stalked, especially any friends of family so they can keep an extra eye open.
  8. Always keep your phone with you.
  9. Consider changing your phone number.
  10. Secure your home.
 
If you are being cyber-stalked:
 
  1. Send the person 1 message to no longer contact you.
  2. If the person contacts you again, don’t respond.
  3. Print out any evidence you may have.
  4. Report the stalker to the police.
  5. If the stalking continues, contact the police again and provide updated evidence.
  6. Block the stalker on any and all social media. Usually they have many accounts and will continue to make new accounts.
  7. Change your email and screen names
  8. Don’t post your locations online or what you are doing because it can be narrowed down where you may be.
Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is using physical force that injuries you or puts you in danger. No one has the right to put their hands on you for any reason. Physical violence in a romantic relationship is called a domestic violence. Physical abuse is a crime and dangerous if you are being abused and in immediate danger call 911. If you are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship you need a safety plan in place. I took this safety plan from (www.womenhealth.gov)
 
Safety Plan
  1. Identify a safe friend and safe place to go
  2. Create a code word to use with friends and family to let them know when you are in danger.
  3. Keep an alternate cellphone nearby
  4. Try to keep a prepaid phone that the abuser can’t trace. Some domestic violence shelters offer free phones.
  5. Memorize the phone numbers of friends and family members or shelters.
  6. This way if your partner takes your phone you at least still know some important numbers. You could also have them wrote down and hidden in a safe place.
  7. Make a list of things to take with you if you have to leave quickly.
  8. Ask your doctor how to get extra medicine, glasses or any other medically necessary items.
  9. Contact your local court (family or domestic violence)
  10. Try to take with you any evidence of abuse
  11. Keep copies of everything on a flash drive
 
You may be in an unhealthy relationship if you see any of the following signs. If you do say yes to any of these you may want to start rethinking about your relationship. At least have a conversation with your significant other to see if anything changes. Without changes it may only get worse over time.
  • Focusing all your energy on your partner.
  • Drop your friends and family or things you enjoy to spend time with your partners friends and doing only things they enjoy.
  • If you feel pressured or controlled
  • Have more bad times than good time
  • Often feel sad or scared when you are with your partner or feel like you are constantly walking on egg shells.
  • If you know this person doesn’t support you or what you want out of your life.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable being yourself or making your own decisions
  • Can’t talk about your needs or changes in your life that are important to you.
 
Violence against women can cause long-term physical and mental health problems. Some physical effects could be anything from minor to serious conditions. Short term physical effects from sexual assault may include:
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Problems sleeping
 
Long term effects sexual or physical violence
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Heart Problems
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Nightmares and Sleep problems
  • Migraines
  • Pain during sex
  • Immune System problems
  • Mental Health issues which include misusing alcohol and drugs
Women who have been sexually assaulted may deal with some PTSD, depression and anxiety. Every 2 minutes in the United States someone is being sexually abused and over 50% of cases go unreported. Victims of sexual abuse are:
 
  • 3x more likely to experience anxiety and depression
  • 6x more likely to show signs of PTSD
  • 4x more likely to consider suicide
  • 26x more likely to abuse drugs
  • 13x more likely to become alcohol dependent
In 2009, I began talking to this guy that I had met through some mutual friends. He had invited me to stay over at his place a couple different times and things were fine. Until one night we had gone to a party, I had one too many drinks, he begged me to stay the night. I didn’t want to but decided I would. I remember getting to his place and I laid down and passed out. Some point during the night I remember waking up and he was on top of me, I was undressed and he was trying to have sex with me. I remember feeling like I couldn’t move and couldn’t find the words to get them out. To be honest back then I never thought about it as assault until I told my friend about what happened about a month later. I definitely felt like he had no respect for me or my body. He felt like he had no respect for me or my body because he felt like he could do whatever he wanted. This was NOT okay with me, he began showing up at my work and just sitting there, watching
me. We had a lot of drama most of my pregnancy then he just decided he wasn’t going to be around anymore so I haven’t see or spoke to him since the end of 2009.
 
If you are in need of some help please contact:
 
National Sexual Assault Hotline:
800-656-HOPE
Department of Defense Safe Hotline
877-995-5247
 
The information and statistics for this post was provided from the webpage www.womenshealth.gov
 
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to this picture. I am not a medical professional, if you are having a medical emergency please contact 911 immediately. This post is for informational purposes only. If you believe you have a medical issue contact your local medical provider.

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