Monday, June 06, 2016

How Do I Turn My Anger into Change?

*I'm sorry, but this is not a fun post about my kid, or cooking or travel. And it's got profanity. Quite a lot. So move along if you aren't up for that today.

I'm angry and frustrated and cannot stop thinking about something today. I feel ineffectual and at a loss. My heart hurts, but mostly I'm just fucking angry. Maybe you feel the same. I spent my lunch hour today reading articles and commentary on the Brock Turner rape case and sentencing. If you don't know what I'm talking about then start here. Impartial articles followed by outraged comments sections, full of angry, frustrated people who can't understand why a rapist convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault will probably only spend three months in a county jail, yep, not even a real prison. Wait, wait a minute. They all know exactly why he won't do more serious time than that:  his parents are wealthy, he's a talented athlete, he's white, the girl he violated was very intoxicated, it happened on a gorgeous college campus after a raucous fraternity party, so all of this means it wasn't really as bad as real rape, you know that real stranger rape. This was just a typical college overindulgence with two horny drunk twenty somethings and some mistakes were made, on both of their parts. Plus Brock has already said that he plans to help educate kids on the dangers of excessive drinking and promiscuity. Yes, the man convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault wants to educate your children. About promiscuity.

I'm not going to talk about the rapist anymore. Instead, click here, Read the victim's own powerful statement, read it twice. Hell, three times. She deserves your attention. Her writing deserves your attention. In fact, stop reading whatever I've written here and go read her statement. It's brave and blunt and goddamn beautiful and powerful. Share it, post it, read it with your sons and your daughters, I'm saving it to read with mine when he's a bit older. This was rape. What happened to her was wrong and her rapist should pay a price for what he's stolen from her.  Rape is a serious goddamn crime. And it should be punished as such, whether you're a creepy stranger wearing a dark ski mask in the park at night or the happy, smiling future Olympic swimmer violating an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. It makes my stomach hurt and my face clench and my blood pressure rise just thinking about it. But I'm not writing this just to rant and throw myself into this conversation.

My biggest issue here is, what to do next? It's not like this is the first terrible article you or I have read about rape or light sentences or victim blaming/shaming. This is just the most recent shitty story that highlights a problem we all should already know plenty about. And so instead of sitting here feeling inept and filled with rage, I feel like it's time I took some kind of action. Oh, I've donated to some good causes before. I work with some great organizations who help victims of sexual assault, but is that enough? It doesn't feel like it anymore. It's all well and good for me to sit here filled with righteous indignation about the injustice of this rapist only spending 3 months in jail, but what does a regular person like me do to help the situation?

How many women are raped and never report it because who would willingly want to put themselves through a trial? The shaming, the digging into the victim's personal life, the judgment and harassment, not to mention cases that have little physical evidence and unlikely to even be prosecuted. Read Missoula by Jon Krakauer if you want a clearer picture of the rape epidemic on college campuses. So yes, I can be riled up and pissed off for women who have been sexually assaulted. I can write about my indignation and wish things were different and shake my head at the people who don't believe that what happened should even be considered rape. But what can I actually do to change a goddamn thing? What can I do to stop it from happening to other women? What can I do to make sure my son understands consent in every sense of the word? What can I do? What do I do?

Because my tears of anger are fucking pointless without action. What organizations can I help that are doing great work to end our rape culture, end the shaming and blaming of women who have been victims of rape, what else can I do to help the women, and I know some men, whose lives have been forever altered by this terrible cowardly violent act? That's the part I'm struggling with now. I hate feeling helpless. Selfishly, I want to do something. Something for me, frankly, so I feel like I'm part of a solution rather than just watching it all happen and complaining to everyone who already agrees with me. 1 in 6 women has been the victim of attempted rape or rape. 1 in 6. Think about that, think about your friends, family, and think about how many of them have had to deal with the after effects of a rape or assault or some sexual violation that they did not agree to and did not want. I can think of at least 25 women I know, right off the top of my head, that have dealt with this trauma and violation. I'm in that group. So count me as one of your 1 in 6. Not raped, but violated sexually in a way that will stay with me forever, that I did not want. So I think of that number and I think, how do we reduce that? How does that shrink away? Where do I go to get started helping? Beyond talking about it, what is the next move? So now it's research time. Join me, find something you can do to help, that makes sense for you. I'm going to figure out a plan for myself that makes sense and makes me feel like I can help make a difference. Here are some ideas and some organizations that might get us started. I'll report back, because this is too serious to ignore.

MOCSA - - Our mission is very straightforward. MOCSA exists to improve the lives of those impacted by sexual assault and abuse, and to prevent sexual violence in our community.

RAINN - - RAINN: The nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization.One of “America’s 100 Best Charities" 

COVERSA - - COVERSA (Collection of Victim Evidence Regarding Sexual Assault) is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to providing quality, compassionate post sexual assault patient care and improving community collaboration efforts as it relates to sexual assault education and prevention.