Monday, November 14, 2016

High Profile Man is a Sexual Predator but We Can't Talk about It.

Yep. Check out this important companion photo. 

We're going to talk about sexual assault claims today.

Here's our scenario:

Bob is at work/bar/dark alley/in Buffy's home. Buffy is there too. They are working late/having a drink/passing through/chatting. By the time the night is over, Buffy has been sexual assaulted. She consented to spending time with Bob given the normal parameters of their work/bar/dark alley/home liaison. She did not consent to sexual contact.

It's the next day. Bob says Buffy was into it. She wanted to have sexual contact. Buffy says it's unwanted, and therefore a criminal act.

We can find scenarios like this all around us: in the news, or within our communities. It happens often. There is a disturbing phrase I hear quite often when Bob is not a stranger but instead a high-profile man:

"I don't have enough evidence to believe High Profile Man did those things."

I'd like to ask: what evidence would convince you?

What if two women said High Profile Man did these things? Three? Four? A dozen?

Is only a conviction good enough?

What if he admitted to being there, he had a substantial amount of power over her (physically, career-wise, etc.) and she said that he assaulted her. Is that enough?

What if there is no DNA? What if she cannot bring herself to face him again? What if she fears her life is not able to stand up to the intense scrutiny a sexual assault victim often endures? What if she is barely holding it together? What if he buys his way out of it?

When are we, the public at large, allowed to use sexual assault claims against High Profile Man when discerning his character? When are we allowed to let him know that his actions are despicable and we want none of it?

When will we tell High Profile Men that women are not there merely for their sexual domination?

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Sorry, grammar friends. I have no idea how "round-up" or "round up" should be written out. Fail.

I only had 28 posts for The Guiding Star Project to sort through, but the majority of them were focused on sexual assault. While that is certainly relevant to intimate partner violence, I will plan on another sexual assault post with links to all of those in April.

Taking the "Crisis" Out of a Crisis Pregnancy- This posts asks the pro-life movement to focus on the situations that drive women to believe abortion is the only way out.

Intimate Partner Violence- An introduction to IPV dynamics.

Pregnancy and Domestic Violence- A post that discusses the role pregnancy can play as an abuse tactic.

As I review these posts, they all seem to serve as an introduction to IPV. They might be particularly useful to use as awareness posts. Ahem.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Get Over It

I don't need to inform you that there was a Trump sex talk tape. I don't have it in me to write a scathing post about the man. What good will it do?

Everywhere I look, I see prominent pro-life figures choose Trump as their hill to die on. He's what they stake their reputation on.

And they are losing all credibility in the eyes of those that advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and in the eyes of the survivors themselves.

For years I have repeatedly told my less pro-life friends "No way. Pro-lifers care about women. We care about the circumstances that lead them to abortion. We care about every person." I have worked to hollow out this little corner of the Internet as a place that proves being pro-life is a consistent, all life has dignity sort of movement.

And these jokers are destroying that.

There are few Catholic pro-life voices out there saying "Wait a minute. This is not okay. It is not locker room talk. It is not okay for men to treat women as their personal playground." Do you know what they hear in response?

Get over it.

Get over it. We need the Supreme Court.

Get over it. But Clinton.

Get over it.

Do you know what that amounts to in the eyes of women that have experienced sexual assault?

Get over it You don't matter.

Get over it. Men can do what they want.

Get over it. Your safety is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

We needed to stand together on this one. Instead we are ripping ourselves apart and proving there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.

Get over it. A phrase too often muttered at victims of violence.

Monday, October 3, 2016

October DVAM Round Up

To kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I thought I would round up some previous posts on the subject. Over the years there have been many posts about domestic violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), so it is time that I try to collect most of them into one place. I have included a short description of each post, but if you have an unanswered question, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments or message me! If you would like to participate in DVAM, share these posts on social media. Give others the opportunity to think about IPV this month. 

The links below are all to other posts on this blog. I plan to gather up posts that I have written for The Guiding Star Project as well, but those will be in a different post on a different day. 

A Note for Friends and Family of Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors- This post is just an introduction to what you can do to help if a loved one is experiencing IPV or sexual violence. 

Our Search for the Perfect Victim- A reminder that hurt people, imperfect people, and people we don't like are also victims of violence.

To Be Pro Life and Against Violence Towards Women- This was an early post of mine that explored the connection between being pro life and against violence towards women, or the lack thereof in practice.

Daring Greatly and IPV- Brene´ Brown's book, Daring Greatly, covered an issue she calls "scarcity." I find the concept important to understanding IPV survivors.

The Bible, Marriage, and IPV- This post explores IPV and sacramental marriage. 

We Can Be a Voice. Just my standard plea for fellow Catholics to have a thorough understanding of both their faith and IPV/sexual assault. 

The giant, four part series on IPV and sacramental marriage that ultimately took so much out of me that I have barely written a post since:

Marital Rape- A post that highlights the awful fact that marital rape can be present in IPV situations.

Supporting Loved Ones Dealing with Trauma- This post offers a reminder to remember your own self care and to discern your level of involvement or ability to help loved ones that are neck deep in trauma such as IPV. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Supporting Loved Ones Dealing with Trauma

the simplicity of FB friend lists...

There was a moment about three months into my time as a domestic and sexual violence advocate where it was no longer a job.

Up until that time, I found it curious that I was good at the work and felt such a passion for it. My coworkers were amazing. They all had a personal connection to someone that had experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), sexual assault, or Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), and had an instinct for the work that benefited the women seeking our assistance.

That night in group, we were working through a popular workbook, discussing families of origin. As I skimmed the questions, one leapt off the paper. I recognized it. Someone very close to me had also used the workbook, and I had come across their answer a long time ago. I also had a personal connection to several individuals that had experienced violence and trauma in their most intimate relationships.

(I know that is a very vague description of what was an important moment in my advocacy life, but I do not want to use this post as a way to tell someone else's story for them.)

I borrowed my employer's copy of the book, and read it cover to cover in a day. I saw my work in a different way. I encountered people in a new way. I was thoroughly overwhelmed with the responsibility my new awareness carried.

I was trained to help strangers. It was tough work to listen to personal accounts of trauma every day, but I was able to disconnect most days, and leave work at work. Realizing the struggles of people I loved and not being able to compartmentalize it as work was difficult. When I listened and helped clients at work, there was a clear role: I was their advocate, not their friend or relative. My duty was to provide them information, help them sort out their needs and sift through the services that might help. I helped them define the support they already had access to, and what they still were seeking. It is not as easy to be an advocate for people you know personally. You are their friend, sister, daughter or loved one first, not an advocate.

I remember feeling very confused about a few of my personal relationships specifically. I now had knowledge that had opened my eyes to their struggles, but I didn't know how it impacted the relationships, for better or worse. I turned to my coworkers for help.

I was reminded that I was not my loved one's advocate or therapist. I was their friend, or family member. The choices they make impact my life, whereas the choices my clients made often did not. The connections were different, even if I did come to care a great deal for the women and their families.

It has been a few years since I have been paid to be an advocate. From time to time, readers reach out with their stories, or others find me and I am able to help. Often, I am contacted by the friends and family of survivors and victims. It is difficult to watch someone you love go through this sort of trauma. It is overwhelming and scary to know that, as much as you want to scoop them out of a violent relationship or dangerous situation, you can only be there to listen and offer support.

A gentle reminder to those supporting victims of violence: it is okay to set boundaries. We are not meant to be friend, family, counselor, and advocate all in one. It may be difficult to have that conversation, but your relationship will be healthier (and you will better be equipped to support them) if you set boundaries and remind them that there are people that can provide the help that will be better suited to their situation.

Feel free to contact me for information or help finding local numbers for assistance. Peruse the blog archives for more sites to check out. Take care of yourselves!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Look Who Wrote Something!

Hey there, Cathofeminists! Our family is once again knee-deep in an out of state move and adding a new member in August, so I have been slammed.

I did manage to jot a few things down though over at The Guiding Star Project. So, if you've ever wanted to know How to Make a Locksmith Feel Sorry for You, fear not. I've got your back.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Total honesty here: I have read exactly zero of the stories my people have posted on this bathroom slap fest that we have going on in 'Murica.

That isn't because I don't care. I have cared about my own personal safety in public restrooms since 1996 when Sidney Prescott overheard the mean girls talking about her and had the longest delayed reaction in the history of ever in her high school bathroom. The message was clear: People wearing Halloween masks were clearly waiting in every stall to gut me like a fish. Stay. Away.

Oh, Sid. Why did you think you needed to get down on your hands and knees in a gross bathroom? You hear your name whispered when you are alone, you run.

Laugh all you want. Dismiss me if you want. I don't like using public restrooms. Freshman year basketball left me terrified of open locker rooms, and I do believe my lack of gym membership can be traced to those damned open room showers.

As an adult, I laugh about my habits. I mean, sweaty, stinky body parts? No one cares that I am naked. I don't care if someone else is naked.

But I have never been assaulted in a bathroom or a locker room.

The biggest issue I have with the sudden religious liberty or freedom or conservative something or other call to arms I am witnessing, is simple:

No one wants to acknowledge the plight of sexual assault victims until it is convenient to their cause.

And that really makes me angry.

It is interesting that we can use scary bathroom scenarios for entertainment purposes for decades (Scream, Halloween, Psycho for starters) or jovial "boys being boys" locker room fun (The single scene I recall from Porkies is a hole cut through a wall in a girl's locker room. So funny. Much fun. Good times.

Our fears about rape and assault as they are coming to light with this latest frenzy have always been there. They have always been real enough to exploit for entertainment value. They have always been real to victims.

There are real concerns circulating. I hope it leads to us taking them seriously eventually, but right now we seem to be doing what we do best: scream at each other about how the other side is trying to ruin us, stomp our feet, and exploit what we can.

The only thing that matters to most of us in a public area that involves undressing? Doing our thing and getting out. There have always been bad people planning to exploit this.

So why does it feel like we only care now that it involves transgendered folks?

I don't want anyone to feel as though they cannot perform basic human tasks like using the restroom or changing out of gym clothes without being assaulted.

Why did we ever think group showers or group restrooms were a logical thing?

If this issue has opened your eyes to assault, good. Use it. Fight for survivors. All survivors. Scroll back through the blog posts here or on the Facebook page and repost your favorite one on sexual assault or consent, or, or, or. Don't limit your scope to bathroom assaults.