**Trigger Warning** – this blog post discusses rape.
Note: The subject urging people to read on was aimed at those that have not been affected by rape.
The title of the event read: ‘Many Kinds of Rape: No Blurred Lines‘ – I glossed over it, not fully being able to hide the unease that began to settle in my stomach.
I felt uneasy. I didn’t want to purposely put myself into a situation where I would feel uncomfortable and upset.
Rape is a taboo subject and the thought of being in a room listening to women talking about their experiences isn’t something that I’ve ever added to any bucket list I’ve written.
Follow your feelings people often say. Well my feelings wanted me to delete the email and erase that word from my mind. Put on some music or watch something funny. Hide the pain by numbing!
A small voice from deep within whispered….
“The reasons why you don’t want to go are the exact reasons why you must”
So I registered and then I numbed!
The event was put on by the wonderful team at Scarlet Ladies and held at a fantastic café in Fitzrovia, Coffee, Cakes and Kisses.
Just like the #ITalkSex event – which I wrote about in an earlier blog (here), I left my expectations at the door. My fear and nerves decided to stick with me for a while longer.
The word still doesn’t sit right, nor do I ever want or expect it to. It’s not a word that needs to be reclaimed or turned around. It’s a word that needs to diminish. But, for that to happen – we have to keep talking about it – for now at least!
And talk about it the ladies did. Their strength and vulnerability allowing us into their worlds. Sharing the space with the silence, as experiences were retold, were heavy sighs laced with empathy and disgust. Gasps of shock and anger. Sniffles of sadness. Warm hums of agreement. And although you couldn’t hear it , there was love, and it flowed through the room – making everything that little bit lighter.
As the event came to a close, the courageous women that sat before and besides me, had etched their stories onto my heart. I felt empowered and optimistic as did the many women in the room that I spoke to afterwards.
A shift is happening………………….
A week later. In another part of London. I sat at the back of a sold out event as some more inspirational women hosted an event – ‘The Art of Consent‘
As the lights dimmed, the friendly Thursday night chatter quietened to make way for a screening of documentary, ‘100 Women I know‘. Four young women, survivors of rape, recounted their stories.
As the credits rolled applause filled the room and once again I was grateful to be surrounded by change makers.
I hadn’t even known what to expect – having only purchased my ticket to support my friend, who had co-organised the event. Sidenote: My friend is the Founder of Ash Magazine and is currently crowdfunding – please take a moment to check it out – it’s such a worthy cause.
The evening continued with a Question and Answer session with the director of the documentary, Phoebe Montague, and the women who were filmed. Followed by a panel of women and men discussing ‘How to create a culture of consent’.
Questions, answers, suggestions bounced from person to person:
- “How do we broach the subject with our peers?”
- “How young is too young to talk about consent?”
- “How do we get the conversation to reach those that do not want to hear it?”……..
I left feeling grateful to be living in a city where discussions like this were taking place and the book 100 women I know (you can buy the book here)
A shift is happening…………………
Some of my takeaway moments that I would like to share (I know that men also get raped but as the events just featured women’s stories that’s why only women are mentioned):
- Perpetrators of rape the majority of the time do not look or act like monsters. They are not rapists 24/7. They may be a son, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a colleague
- 92% of rapists are known to the victim/survivor
- Rape isn’t always violent like the media portrays
- When a woman wants to have sex her body does the talking. She moves, she responds – it’s obvious. Lying there, her life temporarily taken out of her body, is not sex. It’s rape.
- If a woman is brave enough to open up about a time they have been abused. Listen and believe her. Only 0.03% of cases are lies – 0.03%!!
- Do not talk in hindsight. You were not there, in that situation, you do not know how you would have reacted or if you could have stopped it.
- Whatever has happened she is NOT asking for it. Not with the clothes that she wears, the places she walks, the people she spends time with, the drinks or drugs that she takes. As soon as you point the finger at the victim/survivor – that finger moves away from the perpetrator.
- We shouldn’t force ourselves to do something that we don’t want to do.
A line that stuck with me from the Art of Consent night came from one of the rape survivors. She said that when a guy that she knew found out he had raped someone he was mortified! How many other guys don’t actually know they crossed the consent boundary?
So I invite you to talk about rape. About consent. About respect. To help shift beliefs and opinions – as conversations can lead to change.
A shift is happening………………….(be a part of it)
p.s. If you’ve liked this or any of my other posts, I would be grateful if you could give them a share.
Special thanks to the people leading the way. I highly recommend you check out each of the links to find out more….