Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Everyone Is Safe Today

If you've ever experienced it, you know painful it is for all involved. The accusation from someone you love that you've done something heinous, something you know you could never do. There's that tragic betrayed look in their eyes, the seismic tremble in their voice, their shaking hands. Your heart and soul are gutted and you scramble to defend yourself and categorically deny. And even if you're exonerated and it's only temporary, the fact that the accusation was made in the first place takes time to heal, although it never really goes away.

If you've been there, then you know what I'm talking about, because I know what I'm talking about. Of course, any accusation of sexual harassment,  domestic violence, sexual assault, child molestation -- anything accusation related to these horrible acts -- should be taken quite seriously, even if they're eventually found unfounded.

The research is clear about the prevalence of false allegations -- it's between 2% and 10%. But even with this incidence, it's the real victims, those who have actually been assaulted, have the much longer road to healing, if ever truly can. They're also the ones who are in fear of reporting what happened, due to the way we victimize the victims.

I'm a work-in-progress husband and a father today who wants to help with the awareness and prevention of all things related to sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault and child molestation. When I experience my sexual abuse as a child, I couldn't tell you the exact days the incidents occurred and there was never anyone there in the moment to corroborate what had happened. It was my word against his, and I didn't tell anyone for over a decade.

And when the man (who was my first step-father) found out that I shared what happened to me, he threatened to kill me. After one public confrontation with family and friends, nothing ever came of it and no litigation was ever pursued. He has long since passed away, but not only have the memories of what happened to me have never faded, the extreme emotional and psychological abuse my mother and sister experienced from the same man have never faded either.

For those who sympathize with all the men today being accused of sexual harassment and assault and who think, "Wow, no man is safe today," I wish they'd understand the pervasive patriarchal violence that has been committed against women and children for thousands of years. This isn't a partisan problem or a greater prevalence of false allegations. These are brave individuals finally confronting the visceral memories that desperately need to see the light of day in order to heal.

As I've mentioned in another article, according to data collected by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), one in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.

In 88% of the sexual abuse claims that Child Protective Services (CPS) substantiates or finds supporting evidence of, the perpetrator is male (mostly parents and relatives and others trusted by the children).

And as few as one in five victims report their sexual assault, so they often don’t get the help they need.

We can be part of the solution, to work together with women to transform their communities and shift gender stereotypes, end rape culture and deconstruct the patriarchy. That’s just what we’re attempting to do in Santa Cruz with the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women (CPVAW), holding a one-day awareness and prevention conference called Transforming Together on Saturday, October 6, 2018, at the Louden Nelson Community Center. For those who are local and in the Bay Area, please join us.

The very public attacks against alleged victims of sexual harassment and assault are a painful reminder of how much our patriarchal heritage protects the perpetrators. Why don't we want to believe those who are brave enough to come forward share their traumatic experiences? Why would anyone want to come forward knowing the polarizing and ostracizing assault they'll experience?

I am no longer a victim. And those who come forward take the first steps at instigating justice and healing their broken lives. However, there are so many others who need our help and our support. We need to change the misleading perception that "no man is safe today" to a new reality that "everyone is safe today." Aspirational and idealistic, yes, but that's the world we want our girls to live in, and we will do everything we can to get there. This is our #BhivePower, the very essence of our family's mission.

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