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Trust or not...

moeilijk's picture

I've been thinking about trust lately. In the sense of whether we start out believing someone or not.

What does it say about us, as a society, as an individual, that we know - as fact - that most sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual intimidation, sexual harassment - is unreported, is committed by men against women, children, and other men, and happens every day, everywhere. And that we so often choose to say, "Oh, THAT girl asked for it." Or choose to believe that, "Women make false accusations all the time."

Instead of, "Yes, women are often treated as objects, because something is wrong in our society, and men have the physical strength and the political power to do so, unemcumbered by consequences or conscience."

Instead of, "Yes, that happened to me too, once, twice, or more. It was scary and I am still angry about it."

Instead of, "How can I raise my daughter to be safe? How can I raise my son to be a man who would never behave this way?"

It would be nice if we lived in a world where everything made sense. Where all bad acts were 'earned', and being good resulted in no harm. But since that's not reality, I try to offer respect and compassion. And teach my daughter and her friends how to honour themselves and each other.

It's the least I can do.


Saint_Gus's picture

Thank you. I have 2 daughter and do the same. It is so fundamentally ingrained in society that it can be discouraging. I see it in the thought process of people i love and respect even. It's hard to educate people without them getting defensive. We just have to keep trying. A lot of people aren't evil (so to speak) just have limited exposure to other viewpoints. It's so important for us to spread the truth.

Saint_Gus's picture


Veritas's picture

So sad...mine did as well. All I felt I could do years ago was "improvise, adapt, overcome"...but you never really get over having to do that because of how wrong it is. Then, you are right, you start believing that it IS something you are doing that encourages the attention, never realizing that it is fundamentally wrong and not your fault.

I am thrilled over all this attention to the problem. No more sweeping it under the rug and pretending that the intention didn't exist...

Veritas's picture

(((hugs))) to you Smile

You know, we have all had a lot to say about this issue. Something interesting that happened a few months ago when a lot of this started was I had a conversation with DH. He is a nice guy. Our marriage won't make it due to SS but regardless, he has always shown a lot of respect for people in general and he is a kind person, hardly an unkind word to or about anyone. A very gentle man.

I asked him if he could understand all the anger, fear and sadness a woman may feel when getting less pay for the same job or being touched or spoken to in an inappropriate manner or even just in a general sense after a lifetime of abuse.

He said no, he couldn't.

I asked him if he was ever afraid for his safety in certain areas of town, a parking structure or a dark parking lot and he said no, he has not felt that.

How can we educate men on how we feel? My feelings aren't recognized by this really nice man as he has no experience in his life with which to compare it. He is not saying my feelings are wrong or don't exist, he just doesn't know how it feels. How does anyone overcome that?

Stepped in what momma's picture

I have noticed that my grandmother and a few older women I know are very much a sweep it under the rug people. It is almost like it is used as defense instead of actually facing the issue.

There was some talk in the family of an uncle that touched some of the kids (some of those kids belonged to my grandmother) and instead of addressing it she'd rather act like it didn't happen.

Is this something that older women do because it is easier than facing the "public shame" of family airing out it's dirty laundry?

TwoOfUs's picture

I think you're right.

I also think most parents who cause shame do so's traumatic for them, they're trying to contain it, and it ends up sounding minimizing and dismissive.

I remember I was molested in the woods while working on a science project with two boys a grade above me...when I was in Jr. High. They took my shirt off, kissed me with tongue...and one of the boys made me touch him over his shorts...while explaining to me what a 'boner' is. They thought it was hilarious.

As soon as I could get home, I did...and I told my parents right away. Both of my parents peppered me with questions...I think they were trying to ask me if I'd been raped without using the words. I remember them asking me 5 or 6 times if I was sure that they hadn't taken my shorts off. When I assured them that they hadn't, I remember them saying several times..."Oh, you're OK. It's OK. Everything is alright."

At the time, it felt very shameful and also like they were downplaying what had happened. Looking back, I know that's not what they meant...they meant to comfort me...and to comfort themselves...that it hadn't been 'worse' than it was. They did ask me for the names...they didn't ask if I wanted to press charges...I think they should have asked. But they knew I was painfully shy, so they probably assumed that would be more traumatic for me. I am assuming, now, that they informed the school and called the parents of those boys...but I can't remember anything happening to them. I think it would have been good if my parents had let me know the ways in which they were sticking up for was all hush, hush...which, again, made it feel shameful to me.

Curious Georgetta's picture

Sadly , women have been so objectified and under valued for so long that many function on the theory that they must have been asking for it or sending out signals.

No woman should have to be subjected to sexual harassment or assault in the work place, school or social setting. There is no form of attire that gives someone the permission to harass or assault you. Often the power dynamic or the fear of bring shamed and disbelieved make women fearful of reporting these occurrences.

Oddly enough, it I'd often women who are the most critical of other women in these circumstances.

You are right however in that if we better educate our daughters and teach our sons restraint and understanding of the meaning of the words "no" and "stop" these kinds of situations could be reduced.

In this society, we do such a poor job of protecting the weak and the vulnerable. It is just too easy to push them aside rather that face unpleasant truths about the people around us.

Gimlet's picture

Time to check the temperature in Hades, we're in complete agreement on this. Wink

Beautifully said, Moe, as always.

Acratopotes's picture

Moe }:) }:)

I fully agree, we as parents have to raise our children self respect, if they can't respect themselves why do we expect them to respect others?
I'm so glad I'm not my son's age anymore... and I talk to him daily, do not become friendly at your work place, predominantly females, keep your distance keep it professional... do not share private information and never talk to one woman alone... if you are on a smoke break and only one lady joins you... stop your break and walk away... always smoke where there's lots of smokers, never alone behind a building... (yes we are smokers)

I also raised him to respect every one and trust people... it's up to them to earn life long respect and trust, if they stab you once in the back, they will do it over and over regardless how many times they apologize, you only have one change in life, nothing more... life is life it's not a dress rehearsal, you do not get to do it over...

treat woman like you would treat your mother.... snot told me now I treat them better, I do not whistle at them in the mornings

Dovina's picture

Very good post. Also to add that we raise our sons and daughters with respect and manners, and how to protect themselves from indecent people. Teach them honesty and transparency and self dignity. Learn to decipher what behavior from others are acceptable, and know when to speak up. Safety first, keep themselves as low risk as possible to be harmed or maligned.

moeilijk's picture

Thank you. I know that it is not always the case, but I believe (hope?) that our characters speak for themselves. It's not about charm or grand gestures, although of course those influence how others see us, but it is how we choose to conduct ourselves, daily.

I know that on most days, I have had a positive influence on those around me. I pay genuine compliments often, thank people for their help and kindness and offer mine, and I seek ways to make another's path easier, if I can.

I try to teach my child to know her own character - who is she, what qualities does she find easy to show and what qualities are more challenging? How can she recognize the qualities of character in another?

On a very small scale, I was delighted to see this in practice when she went to school for the first time last week - just a trial half-day as part of the adjustment period (kids stream in at age 4 over here). The night before we talked about how to be a friend and how to recognize a friend - based on the book Room on the Broom. About asking to be included, offering help, etc. How to offer friendship, how it's easier for some to offer/accept than others, but however we/another are/is, is just fine.

Sure enough, at the end of the morning, she was holding hands with her new friend, the girl who helped her when she didn't know where the bathroom was.

Life can be beautiful. But we must honour the ugliness too, to bring it into the light and look upon it, so that we are no longer frightened but informed and ready.

beebeel's picture

Oh, Moe, if everyone had your compassion and desire for self growth and reflection, the world would finally be at peace. <3

Gimlet's picture

Also some quick stats:

1 out of 4 Women & 1 out of 10 Men experience one or more incidents of sexual harassment in the workforce in the US.
2 out of 3 Women experience one or more incidents of sexual harassment on the street in the US.
1 out of 4 Women & 1 out of 16 Men experience one or more incidents of sexual assault in the US.
1 out of 6 Women & 1 out of 33 Men experience attempted or completed Rape in their lifetime in the US.
Out of the 25% of women and 6.3% of Men who experience sexual assault only 20-30% of them report the assault to the authorities.
Out of the cases of sexual assault that are reported to the police, only ,on average, 20% are arrested, while only around 5% are prosecuted and only on average 3% are incarcerated.

Sources available upon request - there are multiple.

Aniki's picture

Gimmy, I am every stat but one.

sexual harassment in the workforce
sexual harassment on the street
one or more incidents of sexual assault
sexual assault was reported to the police, he was not arrested (we were married at the time).

ESMOD's picture

Yes, the fact that assaulting or harassment are wrong and educating people how they can reduce the possibility of becoming a victim are not mutually exclusive concepts.

It may be an unfortunate reality that women have to still worry about bad people doing bad things, but if we as a society could fix all the causes of people going off track.. prisons would be empty. But, there are many reasons why people perpetrate crimes of any nature and unfortunately, I don't know that we will ever have perfection. But, again, that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to try to improve.

moeilijk's picture

I think taking action to keep safe is different from being a victim.

There are two groups that are the problem in this dynamic. People who are raised to be predators, and people who are raised to be victims.

Thinking that staying home, covered from head-to-toe, and thinking pure thoughts somehow protects you... is flawed. Thinking that going out, dressing how you like, and doing what you like makes you a target for a predator... is flawed.

Thinking that some people should get whatever they want, including the use of someone else's body... is flawed.

I don't think prisons will be empty any time soon. But I do think that a lot can change, and quickly, if we seek to improve rather than assign blame.

I wonder how the mothers of these men feel?

ESMOD's picture

I don't believe that it is flawed thinking to help people learn how to avoid the chance that they may be victimized. Doesn't mean that it will be 100% successful though. It also doesn't mean that we ignore why criminals do what THEY do and don't also strive to take steps to try to make them not be perpetrators.

Just because people may still break in your home if you lock the door, doesn't mean that locking the door is patently useless because it MAY deter some potential criminals though realistically not all will be deterred.

ESMOD's picture

I think people will always try to make sense of things... look back to see if a different outcome could have been possible.

But, what is more constructive in that situation? Trying to learn from what happened to see if there may have been something you could have done differently or just giving up?

Certainly examining the circumstances and actions that surrounded the incident isn't absolving the criminal in their part of the robbery in the parking lot (I'm purposely not using a sexual assault example to show that we ask similar questions in other circumstances). It doesn't mean that programs to steer people away from a life of crime aren't worthwhile. It doesn't mean that maybe in areas with more inherent risk.. not being there after dark is a sensible choice. And.. again, there still may be instances where we do things with the most planning possible and still the crime occurs.

But that doesn't mean that we can't question how we might be safer in the future.. even though it IS a sad situation that as a woman, I limit some things that I might enjoy doing because I don't think it's wise to strike out in remote areas alone.

Dovina's picture

I wholeheartedly agree with your post. For a victim I think its important to try and understand what he/she can do in the future to reduce the risks of harm. That is not blaming the victim in any way, actually that empowers them IMO. To feel that somehow you can better safeguard your environment. Also a key issue is to ensure any victim feels no blame and crimes committed against them were not of their own doing. Perpetrators of violent crimes need stricter punishment and education.
Also the key is parenting and raising our kids to be good moral citizens in society, Also schools should be educating our future generation on acceptable, moral behaviors. Obviously we need more preventative education.

Aniki's picture

Dovina, it is true (in my case) that you feel empowered. I learned martial arts AND how to fight dirty to defend myself. Both of those things paid off more than once.

Dovina's picture

That's awesome. Nothing more empowering than learning self defense and if anyone dares they get the ship kicked out of them.

Aniki's picture

I broke a guy's knee when he attacked me. It was SO satisfying to see/hear him bawl like a 2yo while I called the police. }:)

beebeel's picture

The chances of your home being robbed by strangers are WAY, WAY smaller than the probability a girl or woman will be sexually harassed or assaulted. On average, 1 in 36 homes are burglarized in the U.S. and in my county, it's 1 in 1132. Whereas 1 out of 4 girls and women face sexual harassment and abuse and it doesn't matter WHERE she lives or what choices she makes. It is pure luck at that level of commonplace that a woman never experiences sexual abuse at some point in her life. Stop comparing apples and oranges.

As if a stolen microwave can ever compare. Jesus.

ESMOD's picture

I've been victimized both ways.

The fact that there may have been things that could have helped me not be a victim of robbery or rape doesn't mean that I am responsible for being victimized. It doesn't mean that the guys who broke in our home shouldn't have been taught to not steal... Doesn't mean the rapist shouldn't have been taught to not attack me.

Telling people there are things they can do to POSSIBLY reduce the chance of becoming a victim is NOT the same as telling a victim that they are RESPONSIBLE for being victimized.

and no-one is trying to minimize being sexually assaulted. at.all. Not all crimes are created equal. One might say that discussing sexual assault is a microwave compared to being murdered.. I'm trying (apparently failing) to explain that education is not victim blaming per se and that we do it in countless other situations. It is also not assigning RESPONSIBILITY for the crime..

moeilijk's picture

To take that analogy a step further, though... whether I lock my door or not has no bearing on whether anyone else has the RIGHT to enter, the RIGHT to steal my stuff, the RIGHT to hurt someone inside.

There will always be people who feel like the 'rules' don't apply to them. If they want it, that's enough reason to walk in and do or say or take whatever and to whomever they want.

For example, I have no idea if any of my neighbours lock their doors or not, since I have never tried to enter unless they opened the door to me.

The idea that we could invite a predator to see us as a victim is where I see the flaw. This kind of thinking is what underlies, IMHO, a lot of what is wrong in the world. But this is also a way of thinking that each one of us, as individuals, can shift - for ourselves, and for those close to us. Because I think predators can make anyone a victim.

But yes, locking your door is wise and reasonable. Not locking your door doesn't make you responsible for a bad act, however.

ESMOD's picture

But yes, locking your door is wise and reasonable. Not locking your door doesn't make you responsible for a bad act, however.

That is absolutely true... not locking your door doesn't make you responsible.. but it may make it more likely if a thief is in the area. Crimes of opportunity are a real thing.

Again, doesn't make you RESPONSIBLE. that is on the criminal.

secret's picture

Actually, where I'm from, if your home is robbed but there wasn't signs of a forced entry, you can be held responsible for not locking your door. It's not considered breaking and entering if there's no breaking in.

Nobody has the right to violate you. There will always be someone who will, if they are faced with a situation they feel is an opportunity.

Offenders are less likely to feel that a given situation is an opportunity, if it's more difficult for them to achieve their goal. It's why safety and prevention methods are taught. They don't negate the risk of being violated... but they minimize the risk of being perceived an easy target... not because what you are/aren't doing makes you more/less of a victim, but because you're taking steps that the violator will consider obstacles.

You have the right do behave as you wish, and you have the right to expect that you will not be violated. It doesn't mean everyone else will respect that right.

It doesn't hurt to take steps to TRY AND ENSURE it doesn't happen - put those obstacles up. Better safe than sorry - and regardless of whether you do anything wrong, you WILL feel like there was something you could have done differently.

Being assaulted can take a toll on can really mess with your head... it can make you question everything you thought you knew about it, about yourself, about daily situations... little things will play out in your mind... what if you'd worn pants... what if you'd have taken a cab instead of getting a ride with that friend... what if you'd taken your drink in the bathroom with you... what if you hadn't smoked that joint... what if you hadn't had that extra shot... you could have done everything perfectly - but crimes of opportunity are called that exactly because that's what they are... despite having done everything right, someone saw an opportunity...and took it.

Being assaulted is not your fault. People who have been assaulted learn much...about themselves, about others... there's no bigger kick in the a$$ to do more to watch out for yourself as when someone takes advantage of you. Be it financially, emotionally, or sexually.... not everyone will respect your rights... and until everyone does, you need to protect them.

secret's picture

I said nothing false, you're just saying that I did. I said that it's not considered breaking and entering if there's no breaking in. I never said they couldn't be charged with theft.

Breaking and entering is not the same thing as theft. You can be charged for theft without being charged for breaking and entering.

Maybe you should read the entire section of the criminal code before you post it trying to disprove what I said.

As per the link YOU posted...

"Breaking" can include an actual break as defined in s. 321 or it can be "constructive" breaking. "Constructive" breaking can be established by the accused simply walking through a doorway.[1] However, simply entering into a structure through an open door does not on its own amount to "breaking". [2] This includes staying in a store until after closing time.[3] Likewise, entering through an unlocked but closed door after knocking does not amount to breaking.[4]

Section 321 of the criminal code:
break means

Angel to break any part, internal or external, or

(b) to open any thing that is used or intended to be used to close or to cover an internal or external opening; (effraction)

Someone entering your home through an unlocked door DOES NOT constitute breaking in. Not on it's own. If they rob you, they can still be charged with theft.... but they may still not be charged with breaking in.

As far as being responsible, when you file an insurance report, they may not pay out if the police report says there's no signs of forced entry. Mine doesn't, there needs to be signs of breaking and entering. I'm not covered if I leave my door unlocked and get robbed because someone just walked in.

beebeel's picture

Legal liability and liability regarding insurance claims are very different matters and your first statement certainly attempted to confuse the two. What insurance form does a rape victim get to fill out?

Comparing sexual assault to breaking and entering property is disgusting. Women and children aren't storage units. I'm out.

secret's picture

I was responding to ESMOD's comment, I wasn't comparing anything.

Your perceptions on my response to her are off from reality, it's not my fault you're not understanding that I'm no more comparing assault and robbery than you were when you mentioned robbery, or any of the other posters who mentioned robbery such as Peanut575, ESMOD, or moeilijk.

Get off your high horse, you're always so quick to nitpick on my posts. Go pick on someone else for a change.

witch.hazel's picture

I like what you said about teaching your daughter AND her friends. So many kids don't have parents who give them the time, love, guidance that they need, and it's important that other adults step up to the plate.

ItsGrowingOld's picture

Thank you for posting this moe. It's a very important topic.

One of my motto's in life is love people and trust God and to listen to the message and not the messenger. It has worked well for me since I turned 26. Humans are to fallible to trust, including me.

I'm thrilled women are being believed. It's about damned time.

The #metoo movement will help some of the afflicted now (validation! for starters) and hopefully many down the road. But the insidious thing that cements what some men and women do to each other as teenagers and adults begins in their formidable years by incestuous behavior of the family perpetrated on them..... the institution that this country is not ready to take a deep dive into.

I barely made it out of my incestuous family alive (sexually abused from infancy to 14 or so). Not to mention the psychological and physical abuse. It's a long tragic story.

Incest is more pervasive than anyone (including me) really knows or perhaps cares to admit. Just ask a psychologist. Those affected are typically taken advantage of sexually as an adult and cannot find their voice to defend themselves or to tell the authorities. I have mentored many women that survived incest (one man too:-).

However, I am joyous that the #metoo movement has gained traction. It's a great start!