In case you haven't heard or read about it, some guy wrote an article calling the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson "soft pornography" and called for parents to 'protect' their children from immorality by getting involved and getting the book (among other books) banned.
Now, I've never read this book (I haven't gathered up the courage, I'm honestly afraid it'd be triggering for me) but from the summaries I've read, Speak is about a high school girl named Melinda who is raped and becomes depressed (as many rape victims do after their rapes). As the title suggests, this book is about SPEAKING OUT about rape. It's about giving rape survivors a voice. To think that anyone could consider this book sexually exciting is SICK and disturbing.
Something that I love about this book (even though I've never read it) is that it sounds like it really captures how hard it is for rape survivors to speak out. We live in a society that shames rape survivors who speak out. Many rape survivors have no support system whatsoever. Sometimes, a rape victim is lucky enough to have someone in hir* life who is supporting and helpful. However, far too often, this isn't the case. Many people have no idea how to treat rape survivors so they end up treating us like monsters instead of real people who have suffered through one of the worst crimes imaginable.
It's been years since I've been raped and speaking out is one of the hardest things for me to do. I am one of those rape survivors that has no support system due to "friends" who suddenly became jerks as soon as I told them about the rape. Another reason that it's hard as hell for me to speak out is because I'm involved in the activist community, and this of course can get me some enemies. These enemies will take EVERY SHOT IMAGINABLE at me. They've taken shots at me for being raped. They've taken shots at me for speaking up about and against rape. They took shots at me when Gabby died. They take shots at me when I tweet about family or personal problems. Quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I hardly ever let anything an anti says get to me, but when I'm constantly beaten down for speaking out, what can you expect to happen? Speaking to my friends about the rape is no better, no less hurtful.
I am so tired. I've found that things are not as bad when I just shut up instead of speaking out. The problem with this is that healing doesn't come with silence. I have never in my life heard of a person who has been able to heal from any kind of traumatic experience by being silent. At best, silence will keep a person right where he or she is. She won't get better, and with luck she might not get worse.
..but why the hell should a rape survivor have to choose between getting worse and the possibility of staying right where she or he is? Why isn't getting better an option for so many people?
You can help give rape survivors another option. You can be the deciding factor as to whether or not a rape survivor suffers for the rest of hir life or whether she or he finds healing, hope, and the ability to move forward. Speaking out can, and should, be a healing experience. But it won't be unless you let it.
When speaking with a rape survivor about hir rape:
1) Tell hir that s/he should be "over it". Rape can take many years for a person to recover from. Telling a rape survivor that hir mourning is taking too long isn't going to stop hir from mourning, it's just going to make hir hide hir mourning from you.
2) Tell a rape survivor that s/he is "playing the rape card". This should speak for itself. This is another way or telling a person that he or she is wrong for being in pain, and it does not make the pain go away, it just makes the problem worse.
3) Promote any kind of rape apologism, including, but not limited to:
a. "You were asking for it!"
b. Promoting submission to rapists as a type of "rape prevention" ie "Women should never take walks alone"
c. Blaming the victim in any way, shape, or form by telling hir that she or he could/should have done something to prevent the ordeal, that she shouldn't have been wearing that skirt, that she shouldn't have been making out with that guy if she didn't want to have sex with him, etc.
4) Treat the victim like a freak.
5) Try to convince a rape survivor to do what you want her to do if she gets pregnant.
6) Say "men can't be raped!"
7) Say "women can't rape!"
8) Doubt the victim, tell hir that she or he is lying about being raped.
9) Use the rape against him or her because you consider that person an "enemy".
10) Ask "why didn't you report him to the police?" or say "I wonder how many more people he has raped because you didn't report him to the police."
1) Offer unconditional love and support.
2) Be the shoulder that she or he can cry on.
3) Support hir with whatever choice s/he makes with a possible pregnancy.
4) Assure hir that s/he did nothing to cause the rape, that the rape is 100% the rapist's fault no matter what kind of clothes the victim was wearing, if s/he was drinking, if s/he was alone, etc.
5) Treat hir like you treated hir before the rape. Offer to take hir out to dinner, shopping, to the movies, etc.
6) Assure hir that there is no such thing as taking "too long" to "get over" the rape.
7) And seriously, if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. If you're going to be a jerk or if you're looking for a debate about rape, it's your turn to be silent because rape survivors are kept silent far too much. Let us SPEAK.
*gender neutral pronoun