It's called the "rape" culture. An environment that 'call's for rape. College parties, girls in pretty dresses, lots of alcohol. All a recipe for possible disaster.
According to a new report released earlier this week by the Association of American Universities, 1 in 4 women say they are sexually assaulted before they graduate; this based on responses from 150,000 students at 27 top universities polled last spring. ( Sexual assault is defined as any involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced, or physically forced to engage, against their will)
This number was so staggering the White house created a task force to investigate and to see what can be done. What they discovered was even worse.
Their first report, called "Not Alone," discovered that 3 out of 4 women sexually assaulted are lower class-men, freshman or sophomores, and 84 percent of the time the perpetrator is another student. In the majority of cases, the victim knows her attacker, whether as an acquaintance, classmate, friend or (ex)-boyfriend.
All this to say, daughter beware. Son's be gentlemen. Rape is not cool nor a way to get what you want. It damages the soul of a precious human being. It's not a game or prize to be won.
Moms and Dad's prepare your children for the signs of possible collusion that lead to forced sex. It's starts very innocently - a flirty smile here, a wink there and the next thing you know, this handsome young man is standing next to you, talking, asking you all about you. Innocently, he offers to get you a drink and the next thing you know, you wake up in a strange place, possibly half clothed with a massive headache and afraid, 'wondering what the heck happened?'
It's embarrassing - I should know. It happened to me. The interesting thing is I didn't discover it until 30 years later having a conversation with my daughter.
We were discussing dating, college and the prevalence of date rape, and it hit me. It happened to me - started out innocently. We went out, had a few drinks...had a few more drinks, went back to my place. Willingly we engaged in sex....the next morning, I was woken up with him having his way with me...all while I'm asleep!
I was shocked at first - then realized what was happening. By the time I did, his full body weight was on me and there was no where for me to go. Nothing for me to do. In that moment, I was helpless.
Now, one could argue, we were intimate the night before, it was 'his right' or he thought I'd 'enjoy' waking up like that....valid and very inaccurate. He didn't wake me up with gentle kisses and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Nope - he did what he wanted, whether I wanted it or not. That is sexual assault.
It was embarrassing and I never said anything. Who would believe me anyway. We went home together the night before. No way to prove anything. And it was buried so far down, that it took a conversation with my daughter to provoke the thought some 30 years later.
I share this as an example of the data that has been provided. It's real and happens far more than most girls would like to admit. They'd be seen as lose, or worse. So they keep their mouth shut and live with the guilt and shame. Thinking somehow they are to blame.
You are not to blame. No one has the right to force themselves on you. Regardless if you were intimate the night before. There was no consent - that, is sexual assault or rape.
Here are some tips to keep you safe on Campus and out in the world of bars and parties:
1. Travel in pairs or more. Never leave your wing-woman alone to fend for herself.
2. Get your own drinks. Better yet, BYOB when you can - then you have control.
2a - Beware in bars as well. Bartenders can be in on this too. Have them open the beer or pour the drink in front of you. Never take a drink from a stranger or leave your drink unattended.
3. Have a designated 'driver' - and I'm not talking about a car. It's someone in your group who commits to staying sober and alert to ensure none of her friends are taken advantage of that night.
4. Take a cab or Uber or mass transit to and from parties. You got there on your own, no need to get a ride from a stranger.
5. Carry a pen, maze, whistle or some other protection in your purse.
A note to men - We get it. You like sex. Great. Here's the thing, when a woman says no, she really means it. There is no scenario where a man forcing himself upon a woman is it ok. We don't like it. It hurts and is shameful. It's not ok. Educate yourself on what constitutes rape or assault. Take part in the #StandUpGuy campaign. You'll be glad you did.
Lastly - call home to let your parents know you are ok. Call before you go to a big party and when you get home safe. If not your parents, your girlfriends. Trafficking happens at these parties too. A phone call to a loved one before you go out could save your life. The first 24 hours are crucial if someone goes missing..
To read more on the rape culture and to learn how you can raise awareness on your campus, check out these links.
College Rape Crisis
AAU Campus Survey on Sexual Assault
The Girl Code
Do Something Campaign - Stand Up Guy
Sex Trafficking has become one of the fastest growing crimes against children in the U.S. Here are some staggering facts to back that statement up:
•At least 105,000 children in the U.S. are being sexually exploited every year, according to the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
•The FBI considers sex trafficking the fastest-growing organized crime, and online channels allowing for the exploitation are only making it easier for predators to do business.
•The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
The underbelly of this silent crime are the thousands of children who are exploited every week by pimps and their recruiters. It's a recruiters job to seek out, romance, befriend and lure young men and women to a place of comfort, trust and young love. It is in this stage children are encouraged to 'separate' from their families, friends and activities. Targeting loners, new kids or the ones that seem to be 'out of place' and don't fit int. These expert manipulators know exactly what to say to have a child feel they are 'finally loved' and have someone to call their own.Being showered with gifts, clothes, nights out to dinner, a new cell phone and beauty gifts are all part of the game.
They choose their victims wisely, taking their time, courting them until these unsuspecting teenagers fall head over heels for their new girlfriend or boyfriend. A pimp can make up to $250,000 a year per girl - they are patient knowing it is worth the wait.
Once in their clutches is is next to impossible to break them up, as these master manipulators are experts and will tell the child exactly what the parents will say to keep them apart. Breaking trust with the family, building up the trust with them. The psychological tactics used by the pimps and their recruiters have been honed over time and create a love/abuse attachment for the victim. Share these tips with everyone. Let's keep our kids safe.
1 - Pimps will recruit out in the open - they will target girls and boys at the mall, skate parks, near schools, Laundromats, outdoor sporting games. Anywhere there is a large group of young people.
2 - Pimps and their recruiters promise a glamorous life. Plenty of food, shelter, pretty cloths - the party life! Once under their spell, they use physical and sexual abuse to keep them under control and silent. Part of this is the coercion - threatening not only the victim, but the victims friends and family.
3 - They use other girls and boys to recruit for them. This is very common in school settings. They befriend the new or lonely kids, inviting them to places and parties showing them the party life. Promising money, prestige and meeting famous people.
4 - Pimps use fancy job titles like, photographer, modeling agency, make up artists, movie producer or film director. Always promising the dream job - after they do this 'one favor'. Which is then photographed and used as blackmail to force them into this world.
5 - Pimps use Craig's list, Facebook, twitter, tumblr, video games to connect with kids around the world. Making 'friends' with strangers is as dangerous on line as it is in person. Monitor who your children talk to online. One negative comment about a parent, sibling or friend and the pimp will move right in, eventually convincing the child they are not wanted or loved where they are and they should run away and come live with them. Luring them into a false sense of safety and love.
Never before has this been so prevalent in our neighborhoods. No one wants to talk about it and it's happening every day. You can do something about it. Learn to look for the signs. Talk to your children. Share this blog with their teachers. You can make a difference and save our children from this silent crime.
You can learn more about the signs of trafficking here: https://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-the-signs