Dating A Girl Who Was Sexually Abused
Sex & Relationships |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Dating A Girl Who Was Sexually Abused

The four things you absolutely must know.

Disclaimer: Every person who experiences sexual abuse reacts differently. These are tips I wish I had written down to give every boy I have dated since I was abused. As I am a woman, I will only be talking about dating female sexual abuse survivors, as I do not know what it is like to be a male survivor.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), "one out of every six American women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime."

This means that the chances of you having a relationship with a sexual abuse survivor is likely.

Having a romantic relationship with a sexual abuse survivor takes doing a little more on your part than dating a girl who has never experienced sexual abuse. I'm here to tell you a few things that you can do to help her through the tough times ahead of her.

1. Once a sexual abuse victim, always a victim.
That might sound extremely depressing, but surviving the act does not mean that her mind has healed. Five years have passed since I was last sexually abused, but there are moments where it feels like it was an hour ago.

It may seem like something you would never do, but telling her to heal and get past what happened is basically telling her that it wasn't a big deal and she shouldn't be upset. Having someone she cares for tell her that it doesn't matter will destroy her even more.

Recognize that she will heal, but sexual abuse will always be a part of her.

2. Try to never leave or have her leave right after you have sex.
If your girl was only sexually abused once, this might not be a big thing for her. However, no one really likes to part ways after sex.

I personally feel as if I am just being used for sex if my boyfriend leaves or has me leave right after we are done. It sends the message that you were only spending time with her so that you could get some.

That might be the farthest thing from the truth, and she may know that she is being ridiculous for thinking those thoughts. That doesn't make it any easier for her to believe you want her for more than sex.

3. If she starts panicking during sex, immediately get off of her and talk to her in a calm voice.
First and foremost, you did nothing wrong if she gets triggered during sex. The slightest change of pressure could send her back to one of her worst memories. It doesn't mean that you were a bad significant other.

So, if she starts panicking, get off of her if you are on top. If she freezes when on top, gently slide out from under her. This may seem silly, but having someone touch you while fighting a panic attack or a flashback can make them last longer.

Ask her what she needs. Does she need you to get her water or a blanket, maybe a shirt? Sitting in a shower stops my flashbacks, so that's what I need. Every girl is different. The most important thing is to make her feel like it wasn't her fault because she will believe that it was.

4. Do the little things with her.
This kind of goes with number two. Feeling like a sexual object will be drilled into her head after she was abused. The best way for her to not feel that part of her identity is to do normal things.

Going grocery shopping seems arbitrary, but being seen out in public with someone holding her hand will help her to feel normal again. It is truly the little things in life that turn rape victims into rape survivors.

Image Alt
Sex & Relationships |  Source: shanngorman

Rape Culture in College

We can do better than this.

FlockU Presents is a new vertical we've launched for longform pieces about topics you care about - everything from sex and body shaming to the history of beer pong to how terrorism affects you as a college student.

In a growing conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, we often hear the term "rape culture" used to describe the metaphorical "system" of society that allows these horrible crimes to keep happening with seemingly little effort to stop them. You also probably hear the term "rape culture" dismissed as some radical-liberal PC myth. So, what really is a rape culture, and wtf does it mean on a college campus?

What is rape culture?
The term "rape culture" refers to a setting in which sexual violence is normalized, excused, and even accepted as a fact of life, due to assumptions about gender and sexuality. Rape culture does not simply exist. It's created by the ways people think about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, and what sex is and should be.

When people believe that men should be aggressive, dominant, and strong, and that women should be passive, submissive, and weak, we create a certain set of normal or excusable behaviors based on these characteristics. When we believe that sex is something that men want and women give up, and that attitude combines with established norms for men and women's behavior, we normalize, excuse, and accept sexual violence as a simple fact.

Rape culture is ever-present in our lives. Perhaps, most unfortunately, in ways that we do not even notice.

In a rape culture, we start with the assumption that a woman who reports a rape is lying when we easily believe that victims of virtually all other crimes are being honest with their reports.

When students go away to college they assume that everyone just gets drunk and has sex. They assume that it's okay to get someone drunk in order to have sex. That's rape culture.

In a rape culture, a woman who has sex often and with many different people is a slut (or loose, or easy), but a man who has sex often and with many different people is a boss.

A rape culture is one in which violence against women is excused, in many forms. Rape culture is when no one thinks it's a big deal to catcall or grope women on the street, or when NFL players hardly get a slap on the wrist for beating the living hell out of their spouses.

It's also rape culture when a rapist (finally, and rarely) gets punished for the crime, and onlookers lament the rapists' "promising futures," as happened in the Steubenville, Ohio case where high school football players documented their night-long, brutal assault of a female classmate with photos and text messages.

Rape culture is also when we teach kids that teasing, and hurting, and being mean to one another are signs of "love." Like when a boy beat up a little girl, and a nurse at the hospital told her that he must just like her. Rape culture teaches us that sometimes the people who love us show it by beating us up. That teaches kids that violence is ok, and those kids grow up to feel they deserve their abuse: "he only punched me because I wouldn't listen," or "he wouldn't have raped me if I just said yes."

I knew I was living in a certified rape culture when a friend of mine mentioned to a group of us, very casually, that she was raped. She even called it that, but then immediately dismissed the incident:

"Yeah dude Matt is a douche. Like, he's hot, but scary.""Wait what are you talking about?"

"No, I've told you guys this before. I blacked out and woke up naked and clearly he fucked me and I was like uhh, what the fuck?"

"Holy shit, Linds."

"It's really whatever. I literally have sex with anyone so can you really like, even rape me?"

"Can you really even rape me?" Laughing ensued. It is only in a rape culture that a woman can be violated in the most intimate way possible, and yet explain it away herself.

We live in a world where approximately 1 in 5 women and about 1 in 71 men in the United States have survived an attempted or completed sexual assault (National Violence Against Women Survey; CDC's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey). And yet we live in a world where rape and sexual assault aren't discussed. Despite the staggering statistics that show that sexual assault is an important and prominent issue for girls, young women, boys, and young men, only 21% of children receive sexual assault education in school, while 55% receiving bullying education (Finklehor 2014).

A rape culture allows sexual violence to continue without serious opposition or efforts to fight it. For the pervasive violation of women to truly end, our society has to change its attitudes about men, women, and sex.

This is our problem to change
You don't have to stand idly by and accept that you live in a world where 1 in 5 women survive a sexual assault. Each of us, everyday, can take action in both big and small ways to start to change the rape culture around us. In smaller communities, like college campuses, these concerted actions can have a combined impact that truly changes things.

To stop trivializing rape, we need to stop laughing at or brushing off rape jokes.
Rape is a seriously damaging crime, and that's nothing to have a chuckle at. On top of that, you never know if someone around you has survived a sexual assault. You could be giving them a flashback to the worst moment in their life, and that's nothing to make light of.

If or when someone tells you they've been assaulted, be understanding, supportive, and believe them.
You wouldn't start questioning the reliability of a friend's story about having their wallet stolen, so don't question their reliability here. You can read more about how to be supportive of someone who's been assaulted here.

It is possible to interfere in potentially dangerous situations in a non-aggressive way.
If you see a situation that looks like it could end up in a sexual assault, you can separate the people in a number of ways. Join in the conversation and be, (excuse the crude term), a cock block. Tell one of the people their friend is looking for them in another place, make sure someone gets walked home safely, or ask someone else to interfere in another way. It may not be the most comfortable thing for you to do at a party, but you could truly save someone. That is priceless.

Don't hold people to bullshit standards.
It's time we stop putting expectations on other people. Don't give your guy friends shit for being "soft" or "a pussy" or "whipped." Don't call other women "sluts." This language can seem harmless, but it contributes to our expectations of what people should and shouldn't be, and creates an environment in what rape is excusable.

Sexual assault is a serious epidemic on college campuses, and sadly, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere in a hurry. I don't want to allow these crimes to continue happening in the places we love. It is up to you, to me, to the people who make these campuses what they are: vibrant, exciting, and challenging. It's up to us to come together to make them better, safer, more accepting places. It is not impossible, and it can happen sooner than any of us might expect.

Image Alt
Sex & Relationships |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Dating In College: From A Victim Of Child Sexual Abuse

"Do I ACTUALLY have an emotional attachment to this person, or do I just enjoy the attention that they are giving me?"

Unfortunately, there are news stories every week talking about some piece of shit getting arrested for sexually abusing a child.

When we read about it in the papers or hear about it on the television, we definitely take a step back, mourn for that poor child and then go about our days. But what is that child's life like now?

To what extent is their emotional trauma? How has that affected their dating lives and relationships with other men or women?

From someone who has been a victim of this unsettling tragedy, I am here to tell you about the ups and downs of dating in college, while also being a survivor.

It's hard for me to see my body as more than just an object.
I was sexually abused when I was six years old, and it continued for about a year. This being my first real sexual encounter as a female, it almost, in a way, "wired" my brain to disassociate any sort of emotional connection with sex.

This has been something that I have struggled with since I was in junior high school, and it has not gotten any easier in college. It's almost like all I know is sex = how to get boys to like you. Which might be true for a drunken one night stand, but it is most likely not going to get boys to date me... at least, not for the right reasons.

It is difficult to sort out my emotions.
When I start talking to or texting a boy, it is hard for me to separate how I'm emotionally feeling from how I am physically feeling. For example: Do I ACTUALLY have an emotional attachment to this person or do I just enjoy the attention that they are giving me?

Now, I know that this can be true for any person, but for me I really have to step back and think. Could I see myself being with this person if sex were off the table? It almost feels like all my emotions are all jumbled together, and I have to put all of the pieces into the right place; which is rarely ever accomplished.

I scare easily.
In the past, when I had been able to finally find a boy who likes me and I like back, in a real way, it is really hard for me to express those feelings to him. I get very overwhelmed very easily. So, if you are texting me every day, asking to hangout every night or Snapchatting hourly with no reply, it is going to freak me out a little bit.

This not only makes it harder for me to open up, but usually boys think I am trying to play "mind games" with them or lead them on because of how indecisive I am acting. It essentially makes me nervous to have a male actually love me for me, and to trust that it is an actual connection.

So, basically dating in college has been something I never knew would end up being this difficult, but here we are. I have not lost hope though, and I know that one day I will find someone worth fighting for and who will do the same for me.

Tips for anyone dating a survivor of any abuse:
DON'T try to tell them how they feel, should feel or will feel. From my experience, I am usually already conflicted on how I feel in relationships, and other people's opinions confuse me more (especially my friends').

DO reassure them that you will always be there for them if they have chosen to share this with you, I promise, it is a big deal.

DON'T try to act like you know what they are going through, because you probably can't imagine.

DO be patient and understanding, it will go a long way! If they need space, give them space, but let them know you will still be there for them when they are ready. And if you don't think you can do that, then please be upfront with the person, and don't waste any more of their time.

Image Alt
Sex & Relationships |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

The Double Standard Of "Stealthing"

Yes, men can be victims, too.

"Stealthing" is a term commonly used to describe a practice of sexual assault in which a man secretly removes the condom during sex, despite agreeing to wear one, without the woman's knowledge or consent. This form of deceptive sexual assault is disgusting, and violates women as well as their trust for their partners. This form of assault can cause serious emotional and physical distress from the victim. "Stealthing" has unfortunately become a revolting trend that targets mainly women.

Stealthing has been condemned by Rape Crisis as a sex crime, and it was recently added to the definition of rape in the state of California. However, there is another form of stealthing that isn't as publicized.

If a man agrees to have intercourse with a woman as long as she is taking birth control methods, and she secretly stops taking them, is that not just another form of stealthing? It violates trust and can also be viewed as a form of sexual assault, because the man did not consent to sex without contraceptives. While not as common as secretly removing a condom, it is still possible for women to attempt to "trap" men by secretly trying to conceive a child.

While stealthing is becoming illegal and prosecutable for men, women who lie about birth control are completely free to do so, as they won't face any consequences for it. Both are deception and both are forms of stealthing, yet only one is considered to be truly illegal.

Another comparison is that both can potentially cause pregnancy. Sabotaging or removing a condom and lying about birth control could both lead to unwanted pregnancy, or at least unwanted on one side of the relationship. If a woman is a victim of stealthing that results in pregnancy, they have the right to decide whether or not to have an abortion or to take an abortion pill.

Male victims, however, do not have the right to decide whether or not the woman should have an abortion. After all, it is her body and her decision. Men can't force their partner into having an abortion for obvious reasons. Men will have to pay child support for their unwanted child that resulted from stealthing, as well as not being able to obtain any real form of justice.

Women can be victims of stealthing. Men can be victims of stealthing. Anyone can be victims of stealthing, and it's about time we started talking about it.

Image Alt
Sex & Relationships |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

Arkansas's New Abortion Law Is An Outrage

An outrage, disturbing, medieval, misogynistic, the list goes on...

A recently passed Arkansas law would require rape survivors to notify their rapists before getting an abortion.

This law, HB 1566, or the Tissue Disposal Mandate, is linked to the Arkansas Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009 which requires a fetus to be treated as a deceased family member and that disposal of the fetus requires the consent of both "parents."

The law also states that a person has to be 18 to have final say over the disposal of the fetus, so if a rape survivor is under 18, they would not be able to have the final say in the decision of an abortion. If their rapist is over 18, then the rapist would have the final say over the disposal of the fetus.

The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit against this law, as well as three other anti-abortion laws, and filed a motion to stop enforcement of this law while their case is pending.

This law is medieval through and through.

A rape survivor should not have to confront their rapist again in the chance that she gets pregnant. Rape is about power and the fact that Arkansas is giving rapists even more power over their victims in the decision about a pregnancy is horrible.

And, if a rape survivor is under 18, and a rapist is over 18, the rapist technically gets final say in the abortion. So teenage rape victims, after not having bodily autonomy during their rape, won't have bodily autonomy over a pregnancy; their rapist will.

This law would also devastate a woman's privacy and right to her own body. A woman shouldn't be forced to notify the other "parent" in getting an abortion. If the other "parent" is their rapist or an abuser they've gotten away from, notifying them will only serve to harm the woman mentally and possibly physically.

The law also says the physicians can't perform abortions without "reasonable effort" in contacting the "parent." This is a huge violation of doctor-patient confidentiality and the privacy a woman should expect with her doctor.

"He was there at conception so he ought to be there through the whole process," the sponsor of the law, Kim Hammer, told Bustle. "I think that all life, from conception through birth and right up through death by natural causes, needs to be treated with dignity, respect, and also a unified approach to deal with the remains."

Just because a man was there for conception doesn't mean he should be there through the whole process. A domestic abuser should not be there through the whole process nor should a rapist.

This bill provides exceptions for neither.

Life does deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but so do women. Men don't trust women enough to make their own decisions and that's why bills like these exist. It's oppressive in the most abhorrent way because women don't have the autonomy to make decisions about their own body.

Laws like these are the reason we need more women in state legislatures and Congress. And laws like these will probably never stop showing up in legislatures. But that doesn't mean we stop fighting asinine laws like these, or stop fighting for women's health.

"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down." - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Image Alt
Sex & Relationships |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

I Felt Powerless

Sexual abuse in college.

Have you ever felt powerless? Have you been put in a situation where you had no power or you could not find your power? Have you ever cried from feeling powerless?

Well if you have, just know you are not alone.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, there are one in 16 men and one in five women who are sexually abused. More than - and I repeat MORE THAN - 90% of sexual assault victims who go to college never report the assault.

Sexual abuse occurs WAY too much in our world today. There needs to be a stop to it.

If you are wondering, I am not someone who just randomly chose to write about this topic because of its seriousness. I chose to write about it because I WAS a victim of sexual abuse and I am a part of the 90% who did not report it.

Over a year ago, I was on an online dating app, swiping right on all those cute guys, and came across one that matched with me. I was so excited because I have never been one of those girls to go on dates, have a guy look at me (that I noticed) or even got out of the friend zone with one.

The convo with the fellow went a little like this:

Fellow: "Hey what's up?"
Me: "Nothing much. What're you up to?"
Fellow: "Talking to a hot woman of course. Wanna meet on campus?"
Me: "Sure! I'm teaching an exercise class at 6, you can meet me before then."
Fellow: "Ok! See ya then! ;-)

That started my downfall, but I did not know what I was getting myself into at the time. The first time I met this guy was nice. We chatted until my class started and met afterward for coffee. That was the ONLY good time I had. After that, everything went wrong.

There were three signs over the course of the month that should have told me to "Get the fuck out of this situation!!" but I was too naive and too blind to see it. Each red flag demonstrates the three types of abuses that occurred: emotional, physical, and sexual.

These were the red flags I missed:

Red Flag #1:
We would chat every day and Facetime at night, but when we did, he was always at home drinking. He expressed it as "drinking my feelings away." He also put me down whenever I did not do what he wanted me to do. He would say things such as: "You are a fucking idiot! What is wrong with you?"

At the time, I let the negative that he put on me fly over my head because he actually gave me the time of day. A guy actually payed attention to me. Why should I let his words constantly hurt me when he was giving me attention? That is not the attention one should want or get.

Red Flag #2:
When we met in person, he would always be mad at something. He was just angry all the time and would yell at me for it. For example, we were studying in Starbucks one day. I came in to sit next to him and he was already mad. I asked him what was going on and he said that he saw his ex with another guy. He was so upset and I never understood why until he said "She cheated on me, with him."

Now, we were sitting at Starbucks and I am with someone who is about to get up and punch the guy. I was not going to deal with that, so I grabbed his hand and marched him far away from that place. Once we were far away, he snatched his hand away from me and smacked me on my face for taking him away from there. I have no excuses as to why I did not leave right then and there.

I should of, but I let the hit slide because he was mad at someone else, and in result, he used his anger and physical force on me.

Red Flag #3:
Lastly, when we went on our first date (It was to the movies), he ended up getting drunk with his friends right before. He was an alcoholic, but that was not the worse part of the night at all. When we went to the movies, I was fighting a sinus infection at the time.

I had been sick pretty much the whole time I met this asshole. Anyways, I ended up falling asleep during the movie. I wake up right as the credits are coming on and looked right at him. I knew he was going to be mad, but this time he wasn't. All he said was "You missed a good movie." After we left, we went back to his place. The biggest mistake of all.

I will never forget the night of my first date, ever. It was the night this asshole sexually abused me.

I have never felt powerless in my life. For someone to take that away from you.... there are no words to describe that.

I share my story with you all because I want the topic of sexual abuse or any kind of abuse to be heard. No one and I mean NO ONE should ever go through that situation.

A year later I still sometimes struggle with being close to a guy because of what I went through, but I am also stronger than I have ever been as each day comes.

So many people who are in these situations give excuses for the one who is doing the abusing. They try to trick themselves into saying everything is fine and telling others that as well, when in reality, everything is NOT fine.

I was one of those people. I, also, stated earlier that I am a part of the 90% of college students who did not report it. I did not report it because I was embarrassed and scared. I could not believe that something so horrific could happen to me, but it did. I believe most people do not report it for being scared or embarrassed or for their own personal reasons.

If you experience any form of abuse while on campus, there ARE resources that can help you cope and deal with your situation. Go to your school's health center (either in person or over their website) and they can provide you with a lot of helpful resources that relate to your situation.

Whoever is reading this and if you are going through something like what I went through, I want you to go stand in front of the mirror, look at yourself and say these words "Everything will be OK. I am strong and I WILL get through this."

Know that you are never alone and there will always be someone to help you whenever you ask for it.