Sexual Assault in the Suburbs

Women's rights and sexual assault have been trending at higher rates since the #metoo movement fired up for the millionth time in 2017. Except now, with practically the entire planet on social media, more people take notice. Especially when celebrities stand up and speak out about the horrors they endured to get the jobs they have now. I applaud each and every person who has done so. Speaking up still invites ridicule, even in this "modern" age. It's hard. It's tiring. It's expensive.

We all know big cities have crime. We watch enough TV to understand that. When you move to the suburbs, you often do so with your family's safety in mind. The suburbs are a "safe" place to raise a family. Suburbs are ideal in theory: little quaint neighborhoods surrounded by trees with quiet winding streets where the laughter of children can be heard. Everyone goes outside to play. People leave their cars and doors unlocked. Everyone knows everybody and their business so the illusion of safety feels very real. Honestly if you look at the statistics, the suburbs probably are safer because per capita (meaning for each person) there are less crimes. Less populated cities = less crime. But those are just numbers. Let's talk about the people.

What crimes do happen in the suburbs? We all know about robbery. We have our security systems in place. We all know about kidnapping. We have our neighborhood watch signs up. But what we don't know much about is what is happening inside the homes of our fellow neighbors. We rely on our neighbors to tell us, either in person or via social media, how their home life is. And many people are straight up fronting it.

The statistics are sickening. Really. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced contact with some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. (https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics)

Look at your family. How many children do you have? How many siblings do you have? How do these statistics affect you? How do you feel knowing that, despite your efforts to live a quiet suburbian life, you and your family are at risk of experiencing rape or sexual violence?

You should feel uncomfortable. Disconcerted. Angry. Sad. And you have every right to feel these feelings. If you do not feel those things, just scroll to the bottom of this post and read the last line.

You may feel many things but you should not feel helpless. No. Knowledge is half the battle when it comes to sexual assault. Knowing this is a possibility is your first step. Congratulations. You just took it. The next step is to educate your children. Educate them about boundaries, what their boundaries look like, and how their boundaries should always be respected. This includes all members and acquaintances of the family. In 8 out of 10 cases the rape victim knows their perpetrator. For example: if your child is not a hugger, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES force them to hug someone if they do not want to.

Lastly, teach them about red flags. Red flags are behaviors that can lead to more dangerous behaviors down the road. If your child experiences a red flag, let them know they can discuss it with you and you can come up with an action plan together. You can learn more about red flag behaviors here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-flux/201407/10-relationship-red-flags

If you are still shaking your head because this doesn't apply to you, you've never heard of this other than in the news and you don't know of anyone who has had this experience, I urge you to consider the following quote:

"If you don't know women who have been sexually abused it's because they don't trust you enough to tell you about it."- Kevin Michael

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