The Power of Saying No!

  • Written by admin
  • November 7, 2017 at 1:48 pm
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  • by Kate Lampe

    As a therapist, I assist my clients through their recovery process as they work to heal the after-effects of unwanted sexual advances. The stories they share with me are about men and women, as well as young girls and boys. These are stories that involve strangers, and they’re stories that involve trusted family and friends. It’s hard to find someone whose life has not been altered by sexual assault in some way, shape or form.

    There was once a time in our country when being able to persecute abuse in the home was a liberty that simply didn’t exist. It was only a mere twenty-some years ago when The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355) was signed as Pub.L. 103-322 by President Bill Clinton. Before that, it was completely legal to sexually assault your wife, husband or children under the mindset that what happened in the marital home was between husband and wife only—certainly never for the government’s interference.

    Other countries, however, have not been as fortunate in making strides toward marital consent.

    In India, sexual acts by a man against his wife, regardless of consent, isn’t considered rape so long as the woman is over the age of fifteen. Similarly, marital rape in the Bahamas is excusable if the young woman is at least fourteen years old, and in Singapore as well, if she is thirteen or older. In these areas of the world, adolescent girls, barely more than children, are stripped of their autonomy and treated as full grown women.

    Though the United States has legally declared domestic abuse and marital rape as unacceptable, it isn’t the haven for abuse victims that we want it to be. Our prevalent culture of toxic attitudes towards those who report abusers leads to more sexual assault in the home than we, as a country, should be comfortable with.

    Young women who were raised in a time before The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 were taught not to report sexual assault. Without the government on their side, women were left to sweep assault under the rug and go on with their daily lives, which they passed down to their children and grandchildren as coping mechanisms.

    Children who have been exposed to sexual abuse are often told to pretend nothing happened or to stay out of sight when the offender is present. But these tactics only serve to perpetuate the cycle of silence and abuse, which will keep going until a firm “No” breaks the chain.

    As a society, we should be teaching young parents the importance of speaking out against sexual assault—be it against their spouse, relatives, or strangers. Young parents should be able to say “No. It’s not okay for you to touch my body and it’s not okay for you to touch my child’s body,” with confidence, setting an example for their children that will hopefully lead to future generations that are even more sexually autonomous than the last.

    Everyone should have the freedom to choose what is done and not done to their bodies, and when we reach that level of respect for others we will have created an environment that is safe, respectful, and one we can be proud to pass down to our children.

     

    With Gratitude and Love,

    Kate Lampe

 

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