Trigger Warning: The mention of Sexual Assault, Suicide, and Mental Health may be triggering for some readers. Please exercise personal care when reading.
The United States has a disgusting legacy of ignorance when it comes to the discussion of sexual assault and how to end it. From the echelons of politics and corporate boardrooms to college campuses and humble homes of civilians, it’s swept under the rug as if too inconsequential to garner the attention of those who have the power to help those victimized. In a new effort to stifle the mention of atrocities that happen every day, the state governments are now banning books that mention sexual assault, including books that help the survivors.
SA Statistics and Information
SA is often thrown as an accusation at the feet of victims as a result of something they did or “had coming”. 43% of men and 81% of women have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetime– 80% of those were while they were under the age of 18. 1% is too large a number, but these exorbitantly high statistics are too great for the ignorance to last.
There is no act more criminal than the sexual assault of another person. SA is the height of personal violation. Not only is a victim’s body used against them, but the results from such trauma are not washed away easily. Their brain no longer trusts those around them. The resultant trauma leads to depression, self-harm, isolation, and suicide. Even with the criminal prosecution of the assailant and therapy, the effects linger for decades.
Literature, especially that which informs, educates, and attempts to bring healing and empathy to its readers regarding these violent pervasive acts, should not be stripped away from victims or potential victims. Sexual assault, in any form, whether from a non-consensual casual groping to a full rape or repeated pedophilic molestations, is a deeply scarring and traumatizing event. Censoring literature, fictional or otherwise, takes an avenue of education and information away from survivors. Given the fact that less than a third of victims seek medical or police assistance after being violated, the least that can be provided is written moral support.
Politicians are calling for the removal of books that contain allusions to and descriptions of sexual situations, whether consensual or not. Citing the uncomfortable nature of such material will harm children. Rapists, child molesters, and pedophiles harm children. In fact, 1 in every 7 boys and 1 in every 4 girls experience sexual assault before they are 18 years of age. 94% of those children knew their attacker. They trusted the person who stole their innocence, violated their bodies, and ruined their mental health. The availability of books, pamphlets, and other written resources that could help them heal is vital.
The Importance of SA Literature
By removing access to these resources, politicians are perpetuating the victimization of their most vulnerable constituents. Not only do these resources inform how to recognize when you’ve been in the presence of someone preying on you, but they help alleviate the millstone of self-blame and mental spiraling around the neck of survivors. Books express empathy and unite a group of people who have a tendency of coping independently. Survivors tend not to seek the help from loved ones and professionals that they need.
After reviewing the laws being instituted and comments made by conservative politicians across the country, fewer victims will seek help from the police in the future. Iowa has recently suspended emergency contraception for rape victims. Many states have outlawed abortions not allowing for the exception of victims of sexual assault. With comments like Clayton Williams’ (R-TX), “Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it,” or Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) “Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation,” what confidence would victims have in their representatives?
Books inform: they help prevent further victimization and lessen the chances of another assault by giving potential victims the tools they need to recognize a perpetrator. Further, they lend the needed support to many survivors who are struggling with daily life to begin to heal from the trauma of their experiences.
Here is a list of books to educate and help:
Written on the Body: Letter from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence by Lexie Bean
C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison and Faye Orlove
Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect by Jayneen Sanders and Sarah Jennings
Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding
I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Assault by Ellen Bass
I Never Called It Rape – Updated Edition: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape by Robin Warsaw, Gloria Steinem, and Wheatley Tanner Letters LLC
Ask: Building Consent Culture by Kitty Stryker, Carol Queen, and Laurie Penny
Queering Sexual Violence – Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement by Jennifer Patterson
Consent on Campus: A Manifesto by Donna Freitas
For the little girls and boys, for the women and men who struggle and have survived: we see you, we hear you, and we are with you.
For more SA Awareness content click here.
Help is available at National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
To feel safe at all times is a basic human right; let’s work to make this world physically and mentally safe for everyone.
If you or someone you know is battling with mental health-related distress, we urge you to be kind and hold space for them, and contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (confidential, free, available 24/7/365):
→ Call or text 988
→ Chat at 988lifeline.org
→ Connect with a trained crisis counselor
European RNCE +44 (0)141 331 4180 or www.rcne.com/
List of Hotlines in 46 Countries: https://wave-network.org/list-of-helplines-in-46-countries/
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453 (4 A CHILD)