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Dear White Suburbia. Stop Permitting Sexual Assaults. Thanks. Sincerely, All the girls and boys who have been victims.

Let’s get this out in the open first. No high school student wants to be the victim of a sexual assault. No high school student then wants every one in their school to find out they are the victim of a sexual assault. It’s the kind of notoriety that blows.

I’ve been the person told about a sexual assault more times than I care to count. Comes with the territory of outpatient mental health. Sometimes it’s twenty years later. Some times it’s twenty days. Sometimes it’s twenty hours.

The number of teenagers and women I’ve processed sexual assaults with staggers me. Because yes. While sexual assault definitely happens to males; I have a far larger number of female victims in my practice.

The number of times the perpetrator has been prosecuted- out all of the cases I’ve had- maybe twice.

The number of times the victim reported it and the police interviewed them, the DA reviewed the case, their psychiatric and medical records were released to the DA and the police…and then nothing happened…too many times.

The really fun part is when they report it to their high school. I learned this over the last few years having moved my practice to suburbia. The high school does their own investigation. That’s right. Even when the police are involved, DCF, and every one else, the high school, under the guise of Title IX conducts its own interviews. With the victim. The witnesses. And the accused perpetrator.

In the meantime in all of my cases…the victim is expected to change their class schedule, not go to prom (because they can’t actually tell the perpetrator not to go apparently?!), and basically completely invalidate the victim at every turn. All supposedly legally under Title IX.

There is a culture of victim blaming, victim shaming, and “but he’s on the wrestling team!” shock and horror that any one could make “him” uncomfortable by bringing up the fact that he perpetrated a sexual assault.

These cases are in white suburbia. I had SIGNIFICANTLY fewer of these cases I mean significantly fewer, when I worked in a city with a very large high school and a diverse make-up. I spoke with a police officer in one of these small towns and said is it just me or is there a lot of sexual assault here? They told me it wasn’t just me. That it was a problem in their small town.

The victims first have to deal with telling their own parents. Which sucks. Every time. Then had to deal with telling me or another mental health provider. Then they told the police. Then the district attorney. Then the freaking school. Who then in multiple cases told the girls to basically change their class schedule and adjust themselves around the perpetrators schedule because they couldn’t ask the perpetrator to change anything.

I actually received calls from a nearby guidance department who were trying to elicit from me that my client’s behaviors were just that. Behaviors. They were avoiding class because they simply didn’t want to go. I just about lost my mind. I said if the perpetrator who sexually assaulted me was in my class I also would not want to go. I also would act out behaviorally. That particular guidance office doesn’t call me back anymore.

Schools are failing our children. In so many ways. Victims are  gaslighted and perpetrators are let off without even a slap on the wrist. We have created a culture of invalidating our children who are sexually assaulted because we are too scared to stand up to the wealthy white families of the perpetrators. (Eh hem. Kavanaugh. Starts at the freaking top people).

The victims are told to basically shut their mouths, sweep it under the rug, and go be a good girl now.

Fuck that nonsense.

Since I started writing my blog clients now and then will tell me they read it regularly. I don’t hide it, but I don’t promote it.

So to all of you reading. I am angry for you. I am hurt for you. I have called school administrators who left me voicemails back that their guidelines are published online and they will not discuss this further with me.

They obviously haven’t met me.

There will be discussions. If I have to plant myself in a board of education meeting until some one will listen to me every month they have them. Then I will.

I know it’s exhausting for you to constantly be fighting for your rights. I know you want to keep your head down and just make it through high school. I know you don’t want your parents to fight as hard as they want to because you just want things to go back to normal.

If that’s what you need; keep your head down. I got you.

And to anyone else reading this know that we as a society have to do better. We have to empower victims of sexual assault not demoralize them. We have to prosecute perpetrators yes even and especially when they are white and especially when they are wealthy. We can’t let this cycle continue because our children are suffering.

 

 

 

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Rebuilding Broken Girls

Do you know what it’s like to sit across from a teenage girl and tell her that what she experienced was not her fault, no matter how many drinks she had, no matter how stupid she feels for getting into his car, that the fact he raped her while she was slurring “No,” is not her fault.

Because I do. I know what that looks like, feels like, sounds like.

Soft crying usually. Not a lot of noise except the sound machine outside my door.

I’ve already kicked the parents out because obviously there is more to the story then what they are willing to say in front of Mom or Dad.

There is always so much tension when the parents are present. They leave and it’s like a weight is lifted, the kid breathes, and tells me the truth. I don’t know when that happens. When the line is so clearly drawn between parents and kids.

So the parents are outside the door while their child tells me about a night when they….drank too much, got a ride home with some one they thought they could trust, stayed overnight with a friend with an older brother or friends of the older brother…the stories are all the same and the girls all feel the same. They feel ashamed, guilty, and alone.

They all say “I know it was my fault…I shouldn’t have…” I let them tell their story. I sit quietly and hear the whole thing. I don’t hand them tissues. I let them just cry it out all ugly with mascara dripping if they are wearing any. There are tissues in front of them on the desk or table but they never reach for them.

It’s like I’m not even there sometimes. They are remembering the night, the moments, the pain, the afterward, and how it sometimes took them weeks or months to even acknowledge that what happened qualifies as rape.

I wait for them to reach a closing point in their narrative. They usually look up at me, with trepidation. Fear. What am I going to say? Think? Do?

I always hold their gaze. No looking away. Got to maintain eye contact. I have an excellent poker face. So while on the inside I am screaming to find the little shit that did this to them and tear them limb from limb, on the outside I am composed. I use their own language to say something like, “To be clear. I mean very clear. It’s not your fault.” They always try to interrupt me and say “But I drank” or “But I got into the car” and I interrupt them and say something like, “You got into the car because he offered to drive you home. Because you needed a ride home, he was a friend of a friend, and he should have kept his dick in his pants. Just because you were in his car did not give him the right to pull over and rape you. That’s fucked up. It’s also illegal. You are not wrong. None of this is on you. There is a code in society that we can trust other people not to rape us when we are intoxicated or in their car. Don’t own this responsibility. It’s not yours.”

I always talk about pressing charges if they want to, but I don’t pressure them. I tell them we have to tell their parents at some point, especially depending on their age and the perpetrator, some times I am legally obligated to tell their parents and DCF.

I’ve had a hard time coming up with a blog post recently because this topic has been on my mind. This topic of our girls our teenage girls taking responsibility for boys, teenage boys who are unable to keep their penis’ to themselves. What the everloving fuck.

It’s horrifying to me. As a mom of boys it’s horrifying to think my son’s would ever do that to another human being. But boys are doing it. On the regular and girls are swallowing down the hurt and pain and remaining silent because they don’t want to “snitch” they don’t want to be called a “liar” and they don’t want to go through it all again.

I want to reach a day where I don’t have so many girls on my caseload with silent rape histories. Rapes that they and myself and a man somewhere out in the world are the only three people in the world who know about it. I want to reach a day when boys are not rapists who get away with it.

I want boys to be taught to not rape women.

Perhaps we as a society just think boys and men know this intuitively. Clearly they don’t. Clearly there needs to be overt conversations with boys who will become men about never having sex with a woman or girl when she is saying No. Never have sex with a girl who is intoxicated and can’t consent. These are simple rules to live by.

Instead of all the girls on my caseload, where are the young men? Where are the rapists? Protected by wealth, parents, and race. The perpetrators of the majority of my cases are white, middle to upper class, boys of wealth and privilege who if there are charges pressed will have a team of attorneys to make sure it is expunged from their adult record.

To change this it would require a major overhaul of our discussions with boys and girls, men and women, about sex, consent, and rape.

For now, I sit with and I hear their stories. I help them rebuild themselves. I help them heal. I carry their pain and I see their tears. I support them during police investigations if they choose to pursue it.

But some days it’s too much to carry. Some days the stories add up and weigh me down. Yet even then I can’t zone out. I can’t call out of work. I have to be there for them. For their stories. For their trauma’s. For their healing.

That’s what it is to be in psychiatry. To be there. To watch broken girls build themselves into strong bold young women. Even when it feels like too much to bear. Because in those moments I have to remind myself that they lived it. That their trauma is more than I could ever imagine. That the retelling of it to me is nothing compared to the actual assault.

But what I’m really thinking about at the end of the day is that I want to raise my sons to be good men. I want all parents to raise their sons to be decent, kind, respectful men. That I want the rapists to stop raping. Because if we focused on the rapists, and not the victims, we would have empowered women and respectful educated men.

To all the young girls out there. It’s not your fault. You are not alone. Don’t take your life because you were raped. Tell some one. Talk about it. Cry ugly tears. Press charges. Take the control back, give the the shame away where it belongs, and live. Because there’s no greater moment than when you can rise up and give death the middle finger because you choose to live without fear.