Hey everyone… I just want to start off with a quick message before I go deep into this post. I want you all to be aware of the studies around sexual assault etc. But firstly I have my very own message to my friends, family and counsellors who have helped me. Then one for the fake friends, community and others who lets say didn’t do anything or much to help me.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me, helped me and believed me when I came forward about being sexually assaulted. I also want to say screw you if you are one of the people that blamed me (victim blamed), covered it up, lied about it or made my life misreble. I am here to say that I have come out of it stronger and happier. Yes its been hard and no thanks to many. But to the few people who have been there for me, you have made a massive difference to me and I can’t thank you enough.
No names have been used of people or places due to legal reasons
What is sexual assault? There is not one specific definition of sexual assault as there are many different forms. But the main conclusion is that “sexual assault is when another individual intentionally touches you or forces you to do things sexually WITHOUT CONSENT!”. This is different to rape which is ” Someone intentionally penatrates a persons body WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT!”. Both these acts are illegal and come under the term “Sexual Violence”.
1. The CPS’ decision to pre-charge attackers has fallen by 14% (Taylor.J, 2020). This shows that the justice system is picking and choosing what cases they take to court.
2. A third of people believe women who flirt are responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted (Rape Crisis, 2020).
3. 4% of men and 20% of women have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16, that’s approximately 3.4 million female and 631,000 male victims (Rape Crisis. 2020).
4. 510,00 women and 138,000 of men aged between 16 to 59 had suffered a sexual assault in the last year. This is from 2017. (rape crisis.2020)
5. The England and Wales crime stats showed that around 5 in 6 victims (83%) did not report their experiences to the police (Gov.uk. 2020). This is mainly because the victim is scared to come forward. For me I was threatened by people and told that I wouldn’t be allowed to see my friends at church etc.
6. 1 in 10 young adults have left their churches due to sexual assault/abuse (Christianity Today, 2019). I am one of those people. With the #Metoo movement happening some of you may have noticed the #Churchtoo. This is because the younger generation are growing up now with knowledge about sexual abuse in churches. They are not as scared to come forward anymore as people are more aware of what has been covered up before. I am not saying everyone listens and does what’s right because they don’t. If the church doesn’t handle it correctly then my advice is not to listen to their threats and never stay silent. You know the truth and you should speak it.
The lasting effects of sexual assault on the victim
It is common knowledge that victims of sexual assault and rape encounter mental health issues. This can be from the attacks themselves or due to the way the issue was handled. I have first hand experience from both. Sexual assault and rape cases need to be handled with care. If it is not then it can damage the victims mental health. Mine for example was not handled correctly and damaged my mental, physical and spiritual health. For example before I was put on my anti depressants I could not stop being sick. Not everyone else reacts like that. I feel that people need to be taught in school how to help a friend or family member who opens up to them about being attacked. I have cut out many people in my life because of the way they treated me when I came forward about the attacks. I believe that more education on this topic will reduce the amount of damage caused to a victims mental health.
Not everyone reacts the same way to being assaulted. So some people may develop mental health issues like; Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Eating Disorders, Panic and many more. Others might not. Some people can’t trust others and build relationships, whereas others can. Some people suffer from sexual problems (vagimismus) and some don’t.Some people end up turning to drugs and alcohol and some don’t. Some people end up with IBS or other chronic illness’ and some don’t. It depends on who you are and the situation you have/are in. No body should judge another person on the way they have reated to serious trauma.
Also a victims life can be completely changed. For example they may lose job opportunities, friends, family, community, control of themselves all because of someone else.
What is victim balming? Well some of you ready this will have some knowledge on the subject. The definition of victim blaming is, to pass the blame of the perpatrators act/acts on to the victim. I will give some examples further down on the post.Victim blaming can be used in a variety of situations like sexual violence and racism. I want to make it clear that victim blaming seems to be used more when it comes to females being victims of sexual violence against men, then the other way round. This then allows the perpatrator the power to escape justice.(Mine did and living quite happy as if nothing ever happened).If there was more focus on preventing sexual assaults and rape with an open mind, there would be less victim blaming. Victim Blaming causes the victim alot of stress and damages their mental health. This can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, panic and many more issues.The stigma needs to be broken and perpatrators brought to justice.
These are some examples of what victim blaming is. If I was really scientific I would break them into categories, but I want you to soak in the important information without scientific distraction.
- They were drunk
- They where warned
- They asked for it
- They must enjoy it
- They must have teased them
- They have needs
- They didn’t say NO clear enough/ or a number of times
- It was an accident
- Your lying
- They are a christian so they wouldn’t do that
- I don’t want to ruin their/ familys reputation
- The bible says forgive, so forgive them
- They wont do it again
- Think about their family
Can you imagine being blamed for someone elses actions? Lets have an example shall we. Imagine you fall asleep at a friends house on their sofa, because it is hot. You trust this person and think its fine to have a quick nap. Imagine your disgust when you wake up with them sexually assaulting you. Then when you open up to people about this attack and others, YOUR blamed! You get told; ”You must have provoked him”, ”It was your clothes”, ”He wouldn’t do that, he is a chrsitian so your lying”, ”It’s your fault as you were asleep”, ”You put yourself in danger”,.” The bible says forgive so forgive him and he wont do it again”. The list goes on. So you tell me how its that the victims fault?! They were asleep, it was the attackers choice to sexually assault them! Imagine if that was you or your friend/family member and you blamed them for that persons (attackers) actions. Well some of you reading this have, because this is one of the attacks which happened to me, and this is what some of you said to me. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!
I just want to add onto point 14. You don’t have to think about their family at all. The person who attacked you didn’t think about you, your family or theirs. I am offically fed up of being told to stay quiet for his family. Or the best one is, think how bad they feel hes been accused….! What i’d like to say back is maybe think how I feel (not him or them) that their son attacked me. Actions have consequences well unless you have lots of money and an excellent reputation….
1. IT WAS/IS NOT YOUR FAULT
2. You are not alone
3. I believe you
4. Take time to heal
5. Cut people out of your life that side with your attacker
6. Not everyone can be trusted with the information
7. Not everybody you talk to wants to do whats best for you. Sometimes they want to protect the attacker.
8. Don’t let your religion (If you have one) be effected. If a church or temple doesn’t believe you or allows it to continue then leave. There are plenty of other buildings. My favourite quote is ”You go to church to worship God, you do not go for the people in it”.
9. Only come forward when YOU want to.
10. Don’t let anyone else pressure you to do things. You are your own person they do not control you.
11. Seek help. You friends and family might not be the best people to talk to, but your GP can put you in touch with counselling. This might seem scary at first but trust me it really does help! Do not be afraid to get help.
12. Try and join a support group. This can be in person or on social media.
13. Never give up
14. Never stay silent unless you want to.
15. If you want to then spread awareness as it can help you heal.
16. you should not feel bad for taking anti-depressants if you have to. They help you a lot. You don’t have to stay on them forever, even a short amount of time can do you the world of good. Break the stigma
17.You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
18. Go and buy yourself a copy of ”Why Women Are Blamed For Everything” by Dr Jessica Taylor. This book has changed my life and I can tell you it will change yours too!
It is no secret that sexual abuse is common in all religions. I am a Christian I want to expand on this particular religion and point. This is also because my sexual assault included religion.
These are a number of reasons as to why sexual assaults happen in churches
1. They trust the person/people
2. Feels like a safe environment
3. Believe people are good and following the Bible
4. Easy access to groom children and young adults
5. Close community so action would be taken if something happened……
These are only a few examples there are many more.
When it comes to talking about religion and sexual assault, to me it feels like I am walking on a type rope. I am scared to talk about what has happened to me. But I know if I don’t then I will regret it. I can tell you information you will only get from someone who has first hand experience of it. For example I was told to forgive, as it says forgive everyone in the Bible. Can you imagine what that does to a person? It messes with their head. When I was told to do this (well threatened) I felt like they agreed with the attacker. Since then I have realised that they did and so did so many people. So don’t let them fool you into forgiveness. It is just giving them a reason not to take notice and hoping you will forget about it. Due to the severity of the trauma it is wrong to tell the victim to forgive. This can cause massive distress when it comes to their faith. Imaging thinking you are a terrible Christian because you can’t forgive the person who DECIDED TO ATTACK YOU!
Some churches believe that women are the weaker sex, which means they wouldn’t be bothered if they were sexually assaulted. Well I can tell you that I am bothered that both myself and others have been sexually assaulted. This argument has not much place on this post as it really infuriates me (sorry).
Another reason sexual assault is not brought to light is due to the close relationships/friendships formed in churches. For example I was told that two witnesses (with confessions from my attacker) did not want to come forward due to not wanting to ruin the reputation of the boy and his family. This made me feel so angry and worthless. I was so disappointed that someone could do that. Someone I trusted and respected would rather stay silent then bring justice. This is why you should be so careful who you trust.
I finally want to add that you should always check the safeguarding of any organisation that you join. Make sure you agree with it. Make sure it covers you as they mainly focus on children and not young adults. If you think it is wrong then report it. Most people don’t even know their organisations safeguarding procedures. So please do check. At the time I came forward they were not followed and I didn’t know them. If they had been then there would be a different outcome and fewer girls attacked and a safer place. But instead he was allowed to continue the behaviour freely.
Im glad the safeguarding was changed because of what happened to me, but if I am honest it was too little and far too late. Never once did the people who failed to follow it apologise. If I am honest I don’t believe they have learn’t their lesson, but I am not sticking around to find out 👍
Not once did the boy who has made the last four years of my life hell, apologise. Instead I have had other victims contact me. Which I don’t mind as I feel I can help them.
If you don’t stand up to them, then they will continue their behaviour. But if I am honest I did stand up to them and I still don’t believe that any of them have changed. Friendship and protection will always come first in organisations. The law, well your guess is as good as mine.
If you feel like you are being silenced, belittled and much more then please move organisation. I did. Yes it is hard, but you can do it.
DON’T BE SILENCED
I believe that more help is needed for trauma victims when it comes to sexual assaults/rape and religion. I believe it would have helped me a lot and many victims would probably come forward. So much is happening under our noses, and unless we raise awareness then it will stay buried.
Resources that you will find helpful for overcoming and healing from sexual assault can be found on my ”Mental Health” page.
Thank you very much for reading. Just know that you are not alone if you are a survivor. If you are a family member or friend of someone who you know has been a victim then check on them. Help them.
Victims are treated alot worse then the attackers. Please think about that statement.
I finally want to add that if you are reading this post and you are the person that attacked me or one of the people who victim blamed me, screwed me over, lied, protected my attacker and worse things…… fuck you (sorry but it had to be said). I have overcome the pain and suffering you deliberately caused. I am a fighter and wont give up. I am going to make a difference and keep raising awareness.I will NEVER BE SILENT. I know the truth and I will never stop speaking it.
You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
STAY SAFE AND BE KIND.
P.s No names of people or places have been used due to legal reasons 👍