Hey there beauties! The holiday season is here and 2017 will soon be coming to a close. For many of us, this is a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. With all that is happening in society today, surrounding women's health and other issues, we at Slick Chicks decided to use the powerful voices we have to be architects of change.
Although some incredible accomplishments have been made in women's health over the past few years, there are still strides to be made in certain areas. One of those is an issue that has become more prevalent in recent years, and that is sexual assault and rape.
We know that prevention is possible, but before we can prevent it, we must talk about it; that is just what we intend to do with this blog post today. We are shining a much needed light on a topic that all too often fades into the darkness, because there is a sense of shame, fear, and even guilt that follows an attack.
This is such an important issue for so many reasons. Did you know that sexual assault doesn't just happen among strangers? More than half of female victims of rape report being raped by an intimate partner. Women with disabilities are not excluded from this group, in fact, they are often seen as “easy” targets because of the physical or mental weaknesses they may have.
Some studies show that women with a disability may be more likely to experience violence or abuse by a current or former partner. Most often, violence or abuse against women with disabilities is by their spouses or partners. Women living with disabilities can also face abuse from caregivers or personal assistants. This is simply because they find themselves needing help with daily tasks or activities like bathing, dressing, etc. Many find themselves at risk of abuse because they are physically or mentally more vulnerable and can have several different caregivers in their life.
Every romantic relationship is different. We all know this, however, there’s one thing all women should know doesn’t belong in a relationship and that is ABUSE, whether physical or emotional. Sometimes abuse is disguised as or confused with love. But it’s not. No one has the right to hurt you, control you, or make you feel afraid — even if they say they do it because they love you.
I’m sharing this message because intimate partner violence is a serious problem with long-lasting emotional and physical effects. It impacts all types of women, no matter your age, race, ethnicity, income, or education level or ability. Nearly 1 in 4 women 18 or older in the United States have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
That means someone they love or once loved, such as a current or former husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or partner hurt them on purpose. In some cases, women don’t survive the attack.
All too often society equates romantic relationships with consent. This leads to the common misconception that sexual abuse cannot happen between individuals in dating relationships and marriages, but this is far from the truth.
How do I know, you ask? Well, sadly it happened to me. Sexual violence touched my life. Ten years ago I found myself the victim of sexual violence and rape by the man who vowed to care for me as long as we were on this earth together… my Ex-husband. That’s right, we were married.
I am not going to get graphic or go into great detail, because as a survivor I choose to look forward and not back on what was truly the most hellish time of my life. I am not a victim anymore. I am a victorious survivor!!
However, I can tell you that this experience not only affected me, but has had lasting effects on my family and has shaped us all differently. The experience scared us all in indescribable ways. That being said, I am so happy to say I am alive, safe, happy, and have a wonderful life for which I am so grateful.
As women, I believe it's our responsibility to stand together and empower each other to make strides and improve the well being of women and girls everywhere. We must not stand to be victims anymore. We must be change makers! Whether it means standing by our game-changing ideas or using our voices to stand up and bring awareness.
EVERYONE deserves to be in a healthy relationship that is safe and supportive. If you’re in an abusive relationship, know you have options. People want to help you, even though it may feel like you’re alone. Other women, like myself, have been there and have made it out safely.
Remember, no matter what is said, sexual assault is never the victim's fault. As victims we often hear things like, "It's not rape if we're in a relationship or we are married,” or “If you love me you would.” Both of these statements are false no matter your relationship status. Rape is rape and NO means NO! True love does not hurt!
In the years since my ordeal, I have become an advocate for the rights of women and it has empowered me, and in a sense, molded me into the woman I am today; making me a better person, wife, mother and a much stronger voice for others.
I will never forget the people that advocated for me when my heart couldn’t find its compass. Other victims, advocates, detectives, police, therapist, and my family and friends helped me find my strength again, to stand up, push on, and speak out! I stayed because I couldn't imagine a life without the person I loved. Now, as I am remarried and reflect, I cannot imagine a more beautiful life than the one I have now.
For more information on how you and your friends can build healthy, safe, and respectful relationships, visit girlshealth.govNational Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Here is to a happy, healthy, and productive 2018!
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