As Free as a Bird

Spreading my voice on the injustices of rape culture, misogyny, and human trafficking in an effort to educate others and empower like-minded women.

Archive for the category “Human Rights”

Domestic Violence Defined

Domestic Violence Defined

It is much more broad and far-reaching than many people realize.

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A Different Shade of Beauty

I can’t even begin to understand their pain.

 

One word: Powerful

Victim Blaming and Victim Shaming

Victim Blaming: The act of insinuating that the victim of a crime is at fault for the crime. This is seen extremely often in rape cases. The victim is blamed for their own rape. In other words, society may accuse them of wearing “suggestive clothes”, drinking “excessively or irresponsibly”, giving “suggestive eye contact”, or acting “suggestively”, claiming that the victim caused the rape to happen because of “poor decisions” or “irresponsible/slutty behavior”.

Victim Shaming: When victim blaming goes a step further. Outside of blaming a victim for the crime committed against them, people may begin to bully the victim for the crime. They may call the victim derogatory names, threaten them for coming forward, gang up on them on the internet, slander them, attack them verbally and physically, and taunt them endlessly.

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Both victim blaming and victim shaming seem to be a current trend in our society. I’m not sure if these situations are just now coming to light in the masses, or if it was always going on. Something tells me it’s been happening for a very long time.

When I was sitting in the police cruiser on the night of my attack the police were grilling me to tell them about what happened and draw up a formal charge. I told them that I did not want to press any charges, and that I just wanted to go home. They acted like they had no idea why I would not want to press charges, but I quickly enlightened them (keep in mind this was much before the Jane Doe, Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and other related cases came into the light). I told them that I knew what people would say of me, that they would call me a slut, say I was asking for it, and I would just be the slut in the green dress. They tried to assure me that no one would think that about me, and though I knew that what they were saying was not true, I reluctantly gave my statement and spent the longest 2 hours of my life waiting in the police cruiser.

The police pretty much shamed me for not wanting to come forward, but I think people can see why at this point in time. Jane Doe and Rehtaeh Parsons endured endless bullying from their peers and society. The process of reporting is traumatic enough without rape culture being at a height and extremely public. The police tried to convince me by saying, “Don’t you want to stop him from doing this to anyone else?” If you say anything other than yes you look like a monster, and if you say yes you are damned for life for reporting. No wonder barely any women want to report. People always like to look down on women for not reporting, but I fully understand why they do not want to.

I want to change this society, but I can’t do it alone. We all have to work together to beat it.

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Defining Ourselves

Don’t let the media and society tell you who you are- YOU show them who you are.

The Truth About Bullying

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Bullying used to be something that people assumed only happened in high school. The truth is, bullying can start as early as elementary, preschool, or middle school and can endure throughout high school, sometimes into college, and can even leech into one’s professional life at their workplace or at home in their personal life. Hell, it even occurs in some nursing homes. Bullying has no age limit.

Some forms of bullying that are currently trending in society include:

  • Slut Shaming
  • Victim Blaming
  • Victim Shaming
  • Rape Culture (which includes many of the above, but is not limited to the above)
  • Sexual Harassment (including, but not limited to: workplace and street harassment)
  • Cyber Harassment
  • Texting Harassment
  • Fat Shaming
  • Skinny Shaming
  • Workplace Discrimination
  • Racism and Racial Slurs
  • Gender Discrimination and Sexism
  • Racial Profiling, Gender Profiling, Age Profiling
  • Homophobia and Sexual Orientation Discrimination
  • Age Discrimination
  • As well as many other isolated or recurring forms of general bullying

So, what are we going to do about this epidemic of hate? I have stated before that I believe bullying leads to, or is as a result of, violence against women. None of us are immune to it. Many are bullied:

  • at school
  • at work
  • at home
  • at church
  • at the park
  • at the mall
  • at a nursing home
  • by a spouse
  • by a pastor or religious official
  • by a family member
  • by a significant other
  • by a coach
  • by a sibling
  • by a friend
  • by a boss
  • by the police
  • by a teacher or professor
  • by a caretaker

The list goes on. There is a constant barrage of attacks on our self-esteem daily, whether it is a subtle message from society, or a completely obvious attack from someone. Maybe you never considered something from the list above as a form of bullying, maybe you never considered one of the places listed, or maybe you never even considered one of the people listed as a bully, but any of them can be possible and should be considered. In order for things to change we need to get to the root of the problem. I believe the root of violence is bullying and hatred of others. It is vital to begin to work to eliminate bullying and stop it before it reaches a peak of catastrophe. When you see someone being bullied in any way, speak up. Do not let the bully intimidate you; you are almost as guilty allowing it to happen. If you are being bullied, recognize that being mistreated is not your fault and do not let anyone convince you otherwise. No one deserves to be tortured, and yes, bullying is torture. Despite the saying we have always heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, nothing could be more inaccurate. Sometimes verbal abuse can be just as, if not more, damaging than physical abuse. Physical abuse can heal over time, but emotional scars can remain for a lifetime. Violence is a cycle, and just because it starts with verbal abuse, does not mean it will not end with physical violence, and vice versa. The two oftentimes come hand-in-hand. Something has to be done that is preventative, rather than actions resulting after a tragedy that could have been prevented. The first step is to bring light to the issue. Spread the word, don not let efforts against bullying become a dull voice in the background.

 

Stand in Solidarity Against Bullying

The next few weeks I am going to be covering bullying, victim blaming, victim shaming, and slut shaming. We can stand up for each other. We may feel powerless at times, but we can lift each other up and make each other stronger. Bullying can cause scars, and I personally believe that it can be a precursor to, or as a result of, sexual abuse. It is important to remain strong, support others, and encourage each other not to give into the victim mentality. Let’s show the world how amazing and special we truly are. Speak out, because your voice counts!

Look for the Helpers

Many of you may have seen the picture of Mr. Rogers circulating around social media yesterday after the tragedy in Boston, and maybe even a few days before it.

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This quote is a great reminder to all of us that although there are many terrible events that happen, and many terrible people who cause those events to happen, the people who are inherently good still outweigh those who are doing wrong. Patton Oswalt said it best:

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Those who are willing to risk their lives, risk their health, risk their status, or risk their reputation to stand up for what is right, that is who and what we need to focus on in times of disaster. There are still wonderful people out there. Any battle can be won if we all just come together, the helpers, and stand up for what we believe in. There will always be traumatic events, but rising from the dust there will always be those groups of people running into the dust to rescue others. Try to remind yourself that good exists, and maybe one day even you can be one of the helpers. We may not be able to beat misogyny completely, but we can deter it. Look for the helpers.

We Demand Justice

“Rehtaeh was fifteen when her mom says she was raped by 4 boys. She was 17 when she took her life this weekend, following over a year of being shamed for her own rape. Her mother’s friend Sherri started a campaign — www.change.org/rehtaeh — asking officials in her Canadian province to launch an investigation into why Rehtaeh’s alleged rapists were never charged.

Can you share this photo to spread Sherri’s call for justice for Retaeh even further?” – as written by Change.org

Her story is very familiar to that of Jane Doe in Steubenville, Ohio. She attended a party, was raped by multiple assailants, and then pictures of the horrific act were posted on social media websites for the world to see. She was bullied, threatened, and shamed for her own rape. Unfortunately there were never any arrests. Later she took her own life and never received the justice she deserves.

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People claim that women have made it a long way, but have we really? Sure, we can vote, we can move up to some positions of power, but we are still shamed for being a victim. We still do not receive the coverage, compassion, prestige, power, or paycheck that men do. I can’t even begin to understand why a woman should be shamed for her own rape. How is it that I live in a country where women are blamed for a crime committed by a man? This is another great example of rape culture. If we are going to have the justice system, media system, and the lack of moral fiber/humanity that we have in this country, then there needs to be a some sort of a system that can also protect girls like Jane Doe, Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and Audrie Plott. They need to have somewhere safe to go, a haven, where they can feel safe, heal from what they have gone through, and come out stronger than ever before (this is what I hope to accomplish some day with this blog). I want to start a bed and breakfast, or some sort of getaway, where women can go to stay to heal and move on.There is nothing wrong with running away to survive- I did it after what happened to me and it was the best thing I ever decided to do for myself. I went to stay with my parents on the coast of North Carolina. I was able to heal, forget, and move on in a tranquil and safe environment. Getting out of the situation and escaping the area where it happened- that is the best thing you can do for yourself. It is survival, and no one has the right to judge you for that. You have every right to do what you need to do to take care of yourself- that is self-love. In my personal opinion, if a parent has a daughter struggling with something like rape or sexual exploitation they need to help their daughter escape the situation so that they can heal and overcome it (which can be done after the incident is reported if the family decides that is what is best). They need to get out of the situation so that they are able to get away from any media, or social media, harassment. They need to be shown that life can go on after what happened to them, but there is a healing process that is absolutely vital in the mean time. This nation should be standing behind these girls, helping them, loving them, showing support, but they are condemning them and shunning them. More shockingly in regards to women who are trafficked, they oftentimes end up in jail rather than their oppressor, and even if the oppressor does go to jail their sentence is usually ungodly short. Where is the justice for these women?

*If you would like to help Rehtaeh Parsons fight for justice in death, you can do so by clicking here.

Anonymous speaks out for girls like Rehtaeh and Jane Doe, you can spread the word, too. Use hashtags on Twitter to get more attention.

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