Understanding Rape in Modern Dating & Relationships: How We Can Protect & Prevent
Harvey Weinstein's actions throughout his film producing career have highlighted and stimulated discussion on the topic of sexual assault. The magnitude of women that I know and respect who have experienced forms of rape by this one man alone shocked me.
It's called the Weinstein effect and it has had its effect on me too. It has influenced me to think about root causes and what we can do to make real and effective change!
When contemplating this issue more deeply, I thought about the many ways sexual assault can occur.
Career advancement, and financial stability are some.
What may be less obvious is rape within what seems to be a normal, intimate relationship. This is can be quite surprising for some!
Rape as a word is alarming ( I don't know about you, but even hearing it is jarring). Rape as an experience is terrifying and we can agree, unacceptable.
It seems like a traumatic and dramatic experience, and as a result many don't conceive of it to be very common. When we meet with our friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances we don't typically picture this to be a probable or even possible part of them.
1 in 4 women in Canada have been sexually assaulted.
81% sexual assault incidences involve non-consensual sexual touching.
Rape may seem uncommon because many of us don't recognize what we believe to be normal intimacy as violations. But when we don't give clear consent, that is considered rape. When a woman hesitates about engaging in sex, but goes along with it anyways because she is worried about ruining the relationship, or feels judged when deviating from the media's portrayal of the sequence of steps in romantic scripts, she has been raped.
Being raped spans a spectrum of acts, no one being any worse than another.
A major explanation is due to the social evolution of cheap sex for reasons we mentioned in our previous article on Cliteracy.
But you can protect yourself, and the ones you love. Excitingly this can be done from both sides.
A study done at Carleton University in Ottawa Ontario introduced the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act Sexual Assault Resistance program (EAAA), teaching first-year women the skills to reduce risk of assault. The program, only 12 hours long (3 hours a week or over the course of two weekends), was able to successfully reduce risk. The relative risk reduction in rape went down 46% after completing the program compared to women given information brochures instead.
This exemplifies the real ability to prevent and protect ourselves from incidences of rapes, coercion, and non-consensual sexual contact in an effective and widespread way. This is done by teaching women how to:
1. Assess (recognize risks in their environment)
2. Acknowledge (their personal beliefs and emotional barriers that prevent them from effectively protecting themselves)
3. Act (verbal and physical skills for defence)
On the other side, those who rape may not even be aware that they've committed sexual assault.
What seems like a natural progression in an evening or within a relationship may be an unconscious violation of your partner's rights and trust. Our interpretation through body language, the location, ambience, etc. could lead one to the assume that all is good - all green lights are a go! (heck, your partner may be having a great time as well!) But when it comes down to sex, consent must be honestly, and clearly obtained.
Watch this brilliant video called Tea Consent to see how clearly obtain consent.
"No matter how many times I said yes, you better listen when I say no."
I believe that through understanding with Tea Consent, empowering with Cliteracy, and skill development with EAAA we can equip ourselves and others with effective ways to protect so many women from rape.
For support and assistance click here.
References & Resources
Senn, C. Y., Eliasziw, M., Barata, P. C., Thurston, W. E., Newby-Clark, I. R., Radtke, H. L., & Hobden, K. L. (2015). Efficacy of a sexual assault resistance program for university women. New England Journal of Medicine, 372(24), 2326-35
Photo by Alejandra Quiroz on Unsplash
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