So, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In addition to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I think October is also National Coming Out Month, am I making that up? Well, those things can all be varying levels of scary (so, appropriate for Halloween?) sometimes, and surprise, they are ALL relevant to this publication… I think.
Let’s make something clear: rape is forced penetration. This sometimes means a trenchcoated stranger in a dark alley, but it is not by any means exclusive to that. Indeed, somewhere between seventy and eighty percent of rape victims knew their assailant. It doesn’t matter if you love the person forcing or if that person loves you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve given them consent on a different occasion, and it still counts if it is your spouse. No matter what, if somebody forces you to have sex with them it is rape and it is a crime. If somebody—anybody—touches you in a way you don’t like you have a right to do what you need to in order to make it stop. Now, this might feel like a no-brainer, but some states didn’t make marital rape illegal until 1993, which seems unbelievable to me—it was legal for people to force sex on other people under certain circumstances in this country within my lifetime. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a lot more progress to make.
Your chances of getting raped are obviously higher than we’d like them to be, so prepare yourself now. Being prepared does not mean you don’t trust you spouse and it does not mean that you don’t think your spouse loves you. It just means you are smart and understand the kind of treatment you deserve. I understand that taking measures against potential abuse seems awfully unromantic or untrusting, but just do it. Do it regardless of who you are married to or who you are going to be married to. Do it to humor me if nothing else. Be prepared to live without your spouse—this does not necessarily imply that the only circumstances under which you might have to live without your spouse are abuse, it is also a good idea because there are a lot of things that can happen to turn you into a single parent. Make sure you have a backup plan in terms of supporting yourself and your children. There are a lot of shelters for battered women and children and a lot of advocacy groups. Here is a website that offers resources on a national level, but also investigate what is available within your community. 1-800-799-SAFE is the national hotline for domestic abuse. Additionally, most Planned Parenthood or other family planning clinics will be able to refer you to the resources that you need. Look up a local phone number or address now, because you don’t want to be in a sticky situation sans internet and not know where to go. Put a phone number for resources for victims of crime in your phone right now. (I just did!) You should also have a safety kit prepared in case you need to leave the house unexpectedly. This website has a list of things you might want to put in such a kit, as well as some other helpful advice.
If you want to volunteer as an advocate for rape victims in your community, that is a very brave and awesome thing to do. This is another thing that is often local, so check out this website, but also look and ask around to see if there are places in your town that are what you are looking for.
Rape and domestic abuse shouldn’t happen, so let’s work toward that goal and in the meantime be prepared in case it does.