What if it was okay to be sexually assaulted?
I don't mean what if it was okay to assault someone. I don't mean okay that it happened.
But what if it was okay to be sexually assaulted?
What if we created a space where a survivor wouldn't be traumatized further? What if we created a space full of absolute love and healing and support after an assault?
What if we never asked what she was wearing?
What if we never said she was asking for it?
What if we never said, "But you know, this isn't the first time it's happened to her..." and let our voices trail off as we imply she's to blame? (As if women only get one valid I-was-assaulted card and then after that, they've used up their luck.)
What if we--somehow--made it safe for every woman to report?
What if we made it so reporting didn't have to involve a woman reliving her trauma, sometimes again and again?
....Okay, that one's not possible.
But what if we supported every woman brave enough to report? What if we made it as easy as reliving a trauma can be?
What if we never asked her if she thinks about the things she could have done differently?
What if we never asked if she'd been drinking? If they'd had a sexual or romantic relationship before? If she had said yes to some things? If she hadn't said a clear-enough no?
If she'd given conflicting signals? If she had said she thought she wanted it and changed her mind too late? If HE was drunk? If she should have left him sooner? If she should have known?
What if she was never eyed askance by friends and acquaintances if she's brave enough to come forward? What if no one whispered about her with condescending tones? What if she KNEW she was safe from rumors being spread and condemnations being bandied about?
What if when she blames herself, we affirm her in the most vehement terms that an assault is only the fault of the perpetrator, never the fault of the survivor? What if we told her it's not okay that this happened to you, but it's not you.
What if she wasn't told it's coz she was too hot? He just couldn't help himself? What if we never said this is just a part of being a man?
What if we never told her to stay quiet? Asked her to just not make it such a big deal? What if we never told her that her reporting a few minutes or a night has longterm consequences for the other person? That she might ruin his life?
What if we told her that her life gets to matter too?
What if her medical and therapy costs were covered? What if she didn't have to take a hit to her paycheck? What if her time off to go to appointments and recover was covered too?
What if her future boyfriends and male friends were incredibly supportive of any struggles she might experience in their relationship because of this assault? What if they didn't worsen the trauma? What if they actually helped heal it?
What if there was never sexual assaults to heal from, to begin with?
No. That's asking too much. In today's society and political climate? It's impossible to imagine a world without assault.
But what if we created a space where--when so many of these women are inevitably assaulted--they were utterly supported and loved.
What if no woman had to fear telling her friends, her significant other, her family? What if she KNEW she would be unconditionally supported and held? What if she knew they would never blame her? Never ask what she could have done differently? What if she was given a space utterly free from stigma and judgment to express her trauma and heal? What if she knew her community wouldn't share condemning whispers and eye her with disapproval?
What if we could make it where the sexual assault was the only trauma, and women would be fully supported as they healed afterward.
What if we didn't stigmatize sexual assault, and stigmatize the survivors, and thereby make everything so much worse.
What if we made it okay to be sexually assaulted.