Guest Column: Myths and facts about sexual abuse

Warning: The subject matter and content of this article may be a trigger for individuals who have suffered sexual abuse.

By Julie Drake
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | I bumped up hard against some shocking concepts this week. They were eye-opening. I attended a course called “Myths and Facts about Sexual Abuse.” Definitely not a light topic. Read the following scenarios and see if you bump into some shocking topics, myths and biases.
Opening scene: A 15-year-old girl arrives at a college party. She is underage, but proceeds to get drunk. She drinks so much that she vomits down her clothes. The smell of vomit is repulsive, so she takes her clothes off and passes out on a bed in the party house. She is nearly naked, unconscious and defenseless.
Scenario 1: A male from the party comes into the bedroom and beats her with his fists until she has lost some teeth, her eyes are swollen shut and she is bleeding about the face and head. He then leaves her to suffer the consequences.
Scenario 2: A male from the party comes into the bedroom and rapes her. She loses her virginity in a violent manner and is left bruised and bleeding. Instead of his fists, he beats her sexually and leaves her to suffer the consequences.
How did you feel about scenario 1? Most males who are told this scenario are upset, angry and feel that this was totally wrong, it “crossed the line.” No way should a helpless, defenseless person be beaten.
Scenario 2? Many males (and some females) in this scenario blame the girl. She shouldn’t have been at the party, she was underage. She shouldn’t have gotten drunk. She should have vomited in a trash can. She shouldn’t have undressed anywhere around a group of males. She brought this on herself, she invited this situation.
Beating a defenseless person with fists as opposed to beating a defenseless person sexually… Society often views each scenario differently, when really they are the same. I find this disturbing.
We all need to learn more about sexual assault and the societal biases we harbor. Taking advantage of someone sexually has very little to do with how they look; it’s mostly about how well the perpetrator thinks the victim can keep a secret because he or she is too ashamed, or afraid, to admit what has happened.
Don’t let yourself get caught thinking women bring this kind of assault on themselves.
Making excuses for men doesn’t help them out. It paints them as dumb, controlled only by instinct and willing to drop their morals (and pants) at a moment’s notice.
The men in my life are good, kind and moral. I believe both scenarios would sicken them. They would defend, fight for and prevent the helpless persons from being violated. They would have protected the girl, called for help and defended her dignity, maybe even going so far as talking to her the next day about her drinking and helping her get help. They just wouldn’t allow that kind of violence to happen.
There are a lot of myths and bad behavior out there that need to be shattered, and accomplishing that is going to require strong men willing to boldly demonstrate morality, kindness and love.

Julie Drake







Julie Drake is the director of Rio Blanco County Public Health.