What You Need To Know Sexual Assault In The Kavanaugh Case

Nuances About Sexual Assault Survivors That May Change Your Mind On The Kavanaugh Case

It's about Ford vs. Kavanaugh, but also about the millions of unheard others. Who do you stand for?

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Content Warning: discussion of specific instances of sexual assault and gang rape, violence as a public health issue, minority oppression, lack of safety and victim blaming.

Unfortunately, what happened between Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and researcher and college professor Christine Blasey Ford isn't something that hasn't happened countless times before. Through the #MeToo era and simply being someone who knows women, who experience sexual violence the most, we all know a survivor — and if no assault of someone in your life has come to your attention, you should probably evaluate why that is and how you can become a better ally.

Here are the facts: Ford claims that in high school, Kavanaugh forcibly tried to take her clothes off, groped her and covered her mouth when she tried to scream. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, denies these claims.

Before you begin to make judgments on who you think is telling the truth, let me remind you of an important tweet that explains it all: "Can you name all 59 women who came forward against Cosby? Can you name half of them? Can you name 5? Would you recognize them out of context? Do you want an autograph? Cool, so we agree that women don't make rape accusations to become famous."

Also, I believe it's important for everyone to understand that victim blaming comes from defensive attributions, in which people explain events in a way that helps them feel safer and less scared. Yes, it's easier and more comfortable to think that people are assaulted from "putting themselves in that position" — but this thought is a way we keep our minds safe rather than put a reason to an event that could quite literally happen to anyone. Violence is a public health issue: even if you do all of the "right things," like self-defense classes, and even if you're lucky enough that your body naturally responds in a fight or flight way rather than a freeze way, unlike most survivors, the violence you potentially avoided will occur to someone else.

It's scary to think that we have just as likely a chance of being assaulted — so we say "if I do this, then I'll be safe." I hate to say it, but that's not really the case. We aren't in control of everything that will happen to us. We may protect ourselves here and there, but that won't save us from everything. At the same time, we can't allow ourselves to walk around in fear or on eggshells all of the time. We have to live our lives.

For those who argue she should've reported sooner, please understand that only about ⅓ of sexually violent acts are reported and that statistics in which people are truly falsely accused are minuscule and the same across multiple kinds of crimes — not more so for sexual assault cases. If people do take time to decide they want to report, they have several valid reasons why. For example, the process takes years and over 99 percent of perpetrators go free, survivors may become publicly shamed by people who are on the perpetrator's side, they fear not being believed or being victim-blamed, they may feel shame over what happened to them or blame themselves, and they may feel invalidated because they don't fit the "perfect victim" stereotype.

Unfortunately, not enough people understand the truth about sexual assault situations; unfortunately, the justice system doesn't always sustain justice and investigators can sometimes be just as ignorant as the public. And frankly, with how badly Dr. Ford has been crucified over simply speaking up, why would any survivor want to report? She has everything to lose -- in which she has lost much -- and has nothing to gain, especially that's worth a loss of this caliber.

If we can understand why it might take people some time to be open about other problems they're dealing with, why is our standard for sexual assault so different?

In addition, people may dissociate or freeze (fight and flight are not the only options), which are ways the brain protects itself. These factors can contribute to survivors "changing their story" or not knowing all of the details, which are often misinterpreted as "lying" or "making the story up." Survivors may also continue to interact with their assaulter because they fear conflict or retaliation by "changing the status quo," because they potentially blame themselves or because their job depends on it.

Minorities are especially oppressed in reporting and safety. For example, survivors who identify as LGBTQIA+ may fear to report against their partner because they don't want to further the incorrect stereotype that "LGBTQIA+ people are weird/gross/wrong" or be shunned by others in the community who are on the side of their partner or assaulter. People of color may not want to report against a perpetrator of color because it could further the incorrect stereotype that "all black men are violent." People who live in a country illegally may have to put up with the abuse or assault they endure without reporting because they could be deported back to their unsafe homelands. No matter people's different opinions on immigration, how can we not acknowledge the fact that those survivors deserve safety and justice as human beings?

In addition, looking at this case and how we can better our society's understanding and bystander intervention, we would be remiss to not discuss Mark Judge's role in this case. Ford claims that Mark Judge, one of Kavanaugh's classmates, was in the room with her when Kavanaugh was assaulting her. He laughed and played loud music so no one would hear the assault. This situation does mirror some of his past words and actions, such as when he discussed a time when he took turns with other guys having sex with an intoxicated girl. In other words, gang raping her. Actions and statements like these cannot be excused. Regardless of any aspect of the girl, what he admitted to doing was wrong.

In Kavanaugh's assault against Ford, Judge isn't blameless. Similar to bullying prevention discussed in middle school, if you're not helping, you're hurting. We must be active bystanders. One Act, an organization that promotes bystander intervention, trains people on how to be active bystanders and provides multiple avenues for people to prevent violence in simple and less intimidating or confrontational ways. For example, if someone seems uncomfortable, act like you're great friends who haven't seen each other in a while and want to go hang out. Cause a distraction. Bring friends along with you so you don't feel like you're trying to intervene on potential violence alone.

One more thing: if you don't stand with the survivor, you're standing with the perpetrator. And young children are watching you, learning from you are teaching them through your actions and words. Be mindful about the messages you're sending them and how they compare with what messages we need to be sending them. What are you teaching the next generation? What are you teaching the survivors in your life who are terrified to reach out for support?

And, because I can't help myself... women are always too emotional to be in politics? Oh, okay. Ha.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Supporting Late-Term Abortion Is Actually The Opposite Of Feminism

Feminism is about gender equality and women supporting women- so shouldn't we support the unborn women of tomorrow?

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Before you read this, if you are someone who feels strongly that abortions are the "right" choice and that supporting late-term abortions is a step for woman anywhere, I do not suggest you read this article. However, I do want to write that I support conditional abortions- situations where the birth can kill the mother or where conception occurred because of rape. If someone rapes you, that is not okay by any means, and a baby conceived of rape can be terminated by the mother to avoid PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and any other mental health diagnoses. Of course, if a woman can bring a baby into the world to keep or give up for adoption, even if it was the product of rape, she should seek life for the innocent child rather than death. And what a rape victim chooses to do is neither here nor there- and it damn well is not anyone else's business.

So why should it be my business (or anyone's) if women have late-term abortions? Agreeing to murder out of convenience should not be societally accepted as okay. When the law passed in New York for late-term abortions, I did not picture 39-week pregnant women rushing to Planned Parenthood to abort their child because they got cold feet. I highly doubt that is the exact scenario for which the law went into effect for, and that was more so intended for women who did not realize they were pregnant and missed the time period to get a legal abortion.

Not that I support early-term abortion, because all abortion is the same regardless of when it happens during the pregnancy. Killing someone sooner rather than later does not make it less worse.

Excuses about how women are not ready to be mothers, do not have the financial means, would ruin their futures, they would get kicked out, lose their bodies, etc. are just that- excuses. Carrying a child for nine months might be an inconvenience, but killing someone will be on your conscience forever. If murders pleaded their motives to police as a way to justify what they did (excluding self-defense), what difference is it if a woman kills her unborn child?

Planned Parenthood might be taboo and have a stigma attached to it, but it does so much more than kill babies. Planned Parenthood is a place where girls can go to see OB/GYNO, get birth control, and learn about safe sex, protection, STDs, etc. Instead of stigmatizing it, young women should be encouraged to go to this institution for woman and feminism. Let high school health classes plan field trips there so that everyone becomes more educated on female health (boys included!). Female health education is very limited, especially in school, and many women feel that an abortion is their only way out, however, it's not. By becoming more educated, the rate of teen pregnancies can go down, as well as the need for abortions. Women educating other women should be the goal of Planned Parenthood, and abortions should be reserved for those who got raped or whose pregnancy cause death, health complications, etc.

Abortion might be giving women a choice- but who is giving the unborn babies a choice?

And of course the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is abstinence, and if that is your choice then good for you, and if you choose to have sexual intercourse, good for you too. Be safe. No slut shaming here. Women need to continue supporting other women, regardless of their sex life. Women who have abortions are not "whores" and should not be labeled as such- they are just people whose biology reacted to another person's biology.

If you truly do not want to have a baby, please please please give it up for adoption and do not kill it. It did nothing wrong, and yeah, it might be a little inconvenient to be pregnant, especially if you are in school, but there are hundreds of thousands of people that would love nothing more than to raise your baby. Be a woman supporting other woman and give the gift of motherhood.

If you take away anything from this article it's this:



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