Web Letters | The Nation

Putting an end to rape culture: what will it take?

I am a rape survivor. I have quietly struggled to reclaim my life. I became a victim several times because I didn’t value myself enough to be careful about who I was spending time with. But I’ve come to learn that none of that was my fault. I should have been able to make poor decisions about my clothing, my drinking, even my friends without fear of being assaulted. I never got justice for the things that happened to me, and I’m OK with that. While what happened to me will always be part of my history, it no longer defines who I am. I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.

I have four beautiful children and an amazing husband, my oldest son is 13. I decided to talk to him about rape culture and what happened in Ohio. I started by asking a question. “There’s three teenagers, two boys, one girl, the girl drinks so much that she passes out at the party, the two boys touch her and have sex with her. What has happened to her and whose fault is it?” My beautiful, sensitive 13-year-old son looked at me and said, “She was raped” (yes! Score one I pat myself on the back.) “It was the girl’s fault. She shouldn’t have been so drunk.” What?! Are you kidding me?! How could I have failed so completely as a mom, as a woman, as a survivor myself, to teach my son correctly?!

That’s when I realized I had and I did, but I was not the loudest voice he heard. He saw jokes about drunk girls on TV. The boys at school have a game called scooping where they run up behind a girl and brush against her breasts or privates. So I remained calm and I asked him if it would be his fault if he got drunk and a guy took off his pants and touched him. “Ugh, Mom, no way!” So why would it be different for a girl? We talked about pictures that could get sent around on kids’ phones and how dangerous that is. The charges that can come from that, all good discussions.

But I want to help. I want to help end this culture that affects our children. I want my daughters to not face the ugliness I had to deal with. I want my sons to see women as beautiful, strong equals to be cherished. How can I help? What can I do? I sign the petitions, I call my congressmen, but it feels like so little. I want to help other girls, like this girl in Ohio know that there can be a future, and I want to help boys to understand that just because a girl is impaired doesn’t mean she’s a free target, or if she’s wearing a skirt she’s doing it for easy access. Please let me know if you know of things I can do.

Amber Trautman

Gibsonia, PA

Mar 20 2013 - 1:09pm

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