My March for Women's Rights

Why I March for Women's Rights...

"Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies. Today women around the world are marching for parity and equity for all women’s rights. Women's rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability. "

I march today to change the rhetoric of Marital/Intimate Partner rape, sexual abuse and/or sexual assault. I am frightened of the hurt or betrayal some may feel by me sharing my voice but I can not be silent any more. I will not be afraid. This is my truth as I have lived and survived it. 

Common Belief
Some have lost their belief or may have never believed in the basic human right that No ONE has the right to any physical contact or sexual act with their body without their consent. There is a mindset in our world that by being married it automatically gives consent to any and all sexual acts at the desire of an intimate partner at anytime or place. This is not true. No means No, even in MARRIAGE & PARTNERSHIP. No one has the right to physical contact, penetration or to force themselves on any one else without mutual consent not even your intimate partner. A majority of society thinks that sexual consent looks like anyone of these excuses or many others...
  • Appeasement because you don't want to fight with your partner.  
  • Appeasement due to guilt or shame. 
  • If you're naked, you're asking for it.
  • If you're changing in front of your partner, you've given an open invitation.
  • If you're asleep or incapacitated, it's ok to do whatever with their body. 

THIS IS NOT CONSENT! This is Intimate Partner/Marital rape, sexual abuse and/or sexual assault. To understand the definition of these visit this page.  

Results of Marital Sexual Violence
Statistics show that marital sexual violence may result in more damage than stranger rape because victims may have difficulty identifying the acts for what they are so the sexual violence repeats for years without being acknowledged or because of the deep betrayal of a trusted partner. An intimate relationship is just that intimate and vulnerable and this person that you've trusted with your heart and soul has now taken all safety, trust, respect and self worth away from you. 

My Acceptance of My Marital Sexual Violence
I bought into the common belief. I know that there are so many out there that believe this because it's all we've ever known. 
It wasn't until my (now former) husband and I decided to separate that the line in my head became clear. Clear that if we are not together he has no right to my body. So 7 days later when he assaulted me I was in shock.  When it happened I wasn't even sure I could label it as sexual assault, I just knew I felt dirty, used and worthless. I couldn't accept that my own husband would take advantage of me. The following week in my therapists office as I explained what happened I had to ask her to label it for me. When she uttered the words "You were sexually assaulted. Your husband sexually assaulted you." I fell apart and have only come to accept that this has been apart of my marriage for as long as I can remember. The acceptance of past and present marital sexual assault/rape became my reality.

When I finally accepted that sexual assault and abuse were apart of my past marriage and bravely opened up to my closest friends and church/Priesthood leaders I was shamed as they said "Why do you think you were sexually assaulted what happened? Well what were YOU doing? What were you doing to make him think he could do that? I thought you guys were changing clothes in front of each other at the time, so..? I just can’t believe he would do such a thing, he’s usually such a nice/respectful/righteous man.
If someone has the courage to share that they were sexually assaulted it means that they are certain this is the case, they aren't lying and are scared people won't believe them. No one has the right to question if it's true or under what circumstances in happened. These responses to someone saying they were sexually assaulted minimize the act, shame the person and do more harm.

Law Enforcement acceptance: rarely is martial/partner sexual violence reported or prosecuted because having concrete evidence is difficult to find and prove and sometimes isn't even taken seriously by law enforcement. Divorce courts don't deem abuse as a result of fault or see a need to help victims. 

My religion acceptance: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, my experience has been that abuse of all kinds is not deemed a sin or given any sort of condemning to any of my abusers. Yes the church states that abuse is not tolerated but actions speak louder than words and on more than one occasion in my life a blind eye has been turned to the physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse by "worthy Priesthood" holders. 

Where does one turn for safety and peace when the people and institutions we rely on to share our secrets and to hold people accountable for violence and sin don't do it? It creates the rape accepted society we have today because their is no accountability. This has been a harsh and difficult reality for me to accept and the reason I am writing and marching today.  

Our rape accepted society that we live in has got to STOP today! It is accepted when we minimize experiences, shame victims and abusers are not held accountable. 
In this shame, guilt and denial victims can sometimes never become survivors. 
We all deserve to be WARRIOR SURVIVORS. 

How to Support Friends and Family to be Survivors
"Most people who have experienced sexual violence choose to tell someone close to them.  This will be someone who they feel safe enough with to disclose the abuse that they have experienced.  They need to believe that the person they are confiding in is trust-worthy, will believe them, and will keep the information they give confidential.  As a ‘safe’ person to tell, you are an important source of support.
  • Listen - Listen to what they have to say and let them take their time. It might not be easy for them to start talking about an event especially if it is something that they may have kept silent about for a long time.
  • Believe – People rarely lie about sexual assault or abuse. It is important to believe what the person is saying.
  • Respect – It is important to respect their feelings and their decisions. If they feel like crying, let them, it can be part of their healing process.
  • Recognize – The courage it takes for a person to speak must be recognized and praised. It takes a great deal of courage to face up to fears and also to talk about any sexual experience.
  • Don’t judge – It is important to be accepting of the way the person reacts, even if this is not what you were expecting. It is best to get rid of any ideas you may have of how a person who has been sexually assaulted should behave, and to accept their reactions as normal.
  • Remember – It is not their fault – no one asks to be sexually assaulted or deserves it and they cannot be blamed for not preventing it. The blame lies with the rapist. Reassure them that no one has the right to rape or assault anyone no matter what the circumstances were.
Make time to listen if they wish to talk.  Take your cue from them as to how much, how often, and when they want to talk about it.  Do not force them to talk if they do not want to.                                                                                    It may be very difficult for you to empathize with what the person has experienced.  It is important to support them in getting help and information from WMRSASC or any Rape Crisis Centre and other supportive friends and support services.  Most people, once the initial shock and trauma has worn off, want their friend or relative to be ‘better’ or back to ‘normal’.  However, any sexual assault significantly changes your perception of life and of the world you live in.  There is no time limit after which they should have recovered.  Each individual person learns to cope with the experience in their life according to their individual circumstances.  This can take months or years."-West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre
                                        Now that you know what to do CHANGE the rhetoric
 No means No, even in MARRIAGE & PARTNERSHIP