be like brodyRead Now
A week ago I was getting a long time coming tattoo at Brickhaus Tattoo Studio in Joplin, MO. I was joking with the artist, Brody about the real bruisers that come in saying they just fall asleep when they get work done. We were teasing about typical tough guy rhetoric when he said that when someone talks of falling asleep in his chair he tells them he will stop work. He will not tattoo someone that cannot give consent to what is done to their body. The likelihood of a person sleeping while getting their tattoo is pretty unlikely and it had not happened to him before, but he had thought through that concept and though we were joking about it, he was very serious as well.
Historically consent is convoluted, hell it wasn’t until 1999 where a law changed in Italy stating that a woman couldn’t be raped if she was wearing jeans because they were too hard to be removed without help from the victim and therefore it must have been consensual. Literally what she was wearing would have affected the outcome of whether or not a rapist was charged. I am constantly amazed at how mixed up the human brain can make consent. I had posted in a previous article about the numbers of reported rapes and based off of the fact above about clothing its not a far off assumption to guesstimate that the numbers are actually much much higher.
In college this get much more muddied for women. “80-90 percent of sexual assault reported by college women are perpetuated by someone known to the victim; about half occur on a date. The most common locations are the man’s home or the women’s home in the context of a party. Half of all student victims do not define the incident as “rape.” This is especially true when no weapon was used, there is no obvious physical injury, and alcohol was involved.” September 30, 2008 National Institute of Justice
In my early 20’s I had dated a person for a couple months rather casually. Though we had never had sex I had stayed at his house a few times when I had had too much to drink and was unable to drive home. We broke up and hadn’t seen each other for a couple months when I ran into him at a bar. Falling into that routine of going to his house unable to drive, I passed out in his home. I woke up to the worst and while crying and trying to leave I was called a, “bit*h” who had “asked for it.”
Fathers and husbands and brothers reading this please know that my story is so incredibly common. In fact I would say about 80 percent of women I know have a similar story of sexual assault; consent was taken from them. I really think the numbers here would astonish you. While initially writing this I thought about asking women who share a similar narrative to leave a check mark in the comments just to see the sheer numbers.
So is this article about self defense? Sort of, awareness about these situations, but also an explanation to simplify the murky waters of consent for women. The reason for this is while that happened in my early 20’s it wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s where I was able to separate what I did from what he did. I never reported it, I never thought of it as rape. But it was. It was. Ladies, understand, it was.
In an earlier article I had wrote about the profound number of women who freeze during sexual assault. The psychological aspect is much harder for them to overcome than the physical. They feel guilty because they didn’t fight him off, even though their body physically reacted by freezing. Now think of that last sentence with knowing most won’t report it for that very reason. And again, why would they? When historically you could have been asked what you were wearing or did you fight them off? Did you get in the car? Did you go to his house? Did you play strip poker with him? None of those things have anything to do with the other persons actions. We have convoluted an incredibly simple concept. I thought for years it wasn’t rape because I was the one who drank too much. Had I not been drunk, it would not have happened. And yes, that is true. I made a mistake, those were my actions, but getting drunk was not illegal and was something I was doing to myself. Rape is illegal and is something another person is doing to an unwilling or unconscious victim. Lets switch this all out with I was drunk and he killed me. Should he go to jail for murder? You bet your ass. Your actions do not negate his. Please please please understand this. When this finally clicked in my brain this staggering weight was lifted off my shoulders. My legal actions did not cross off his illegal ones. This was not a math problem of consequence for MY actions, HE was wrong.
I got my first experience of large techno clubs when I moved to Florida after my first year in college. This is where I date myself and say at the time Kylie Minogue’s big hit was, “I Just Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” and we were a group of about three girls and five guys in huge Miami club. One of the women with us was single and beautiful. She seemed to be having a great time sitting with some guys she just met. We had only been there maybe 30 minutes; she could not have had more than a couple of beers when she started to slide off her stool. Her pupils were dilated and she flat out could not walk. Luckily we had all been mildly watching her and went straight over to grab her and help her out to the car. The guys at the table acted really strange. They said they would take care of her and that she was fine when she clearly was not. We left, she vomited the entire night, and was ill the rest of the weekend. I had heard at the time of girls being roofied in college, but honestly it wasn’t a concern at all of mine. I never watched my drinks, I would take mixed drinks from strangers, it just wasn’t a fear. Frankly it truly wasn’t a fear even after I saw the effects of it, it just was a thing that happened. Later the dawning of the what if’s are like a flood.
That was over fifteen years ago. The drugs are so much more sophisticated now. Several months ago I was working out the ideas of Healthy Buffalo at Boarsnest in Rogers, AR. I had spent several nights there writing out my thoughts and objectives when a man came over and inquired about what the heck a person was doing staring at a computer screen for hours on end at a bar. I explained what I was trying to do and when I mentioned the lack of date rape drug knowledge out there Chuck told me he runs I-N-Out Screening Services, a drug and alcohol screening company. He said that when you go to the hospital after a sexual assault that they may run a date rape panel, but most hospitals only test for about 10 drugs through urine or blood. He later emailed me his panel and there are over 50 date rape drugs out there. I was floored. He wanted the word out there to women because he had heard stories that they were told they were not drugged, and had they gone into his business they could have tested via hair follicle and shown they likely were.
Another story while working on this was a girl I met at a coffee shop. She told me her freshman year of college there was a night she was wandering around downtown Fayetteville, AR completely blitzed after only one drink, her friends found her and brought her back to the dorms where she puked up black stuff all night long. She remembers none of it. This could have ended tragically in so many ways. These girls were scared because they had fake ID’s and didn’t want to get in trouble so they just threw their friend in the shower and did not take her to get checked out. Yeah she wasn’t sexually assaulted, but who the hell knows what she ingested and it could have killed her.
Ladies I am not telling to to walk around in fear. I don’t want you paranoid, I want you empowered. I am not asking you to stop wearing heels so you can always be prepared to run. I am not asking you
wear your hair a certain way to make it less likely for an attacker to grab. However there are things you can do to prevent and be aware at parties, bars, etc.
Watch your drink. Watch your drink. I don’t care if you are with friends and you have to go to the bathroom, DO NOT leave your drink. Finish it first or don’t, throw it away, and go pee. Come back and order another one.
Cover your drink. This applies to ALL drinks, including pop and water.
If you start to feel light headed or dizzy seek help immediately.
If someone is buying you a drink, go with them to get it. Watch it from the bartender. Watch your shots being made. I know in the mix of a party or a busy bar this can be tricky, but make it a priority.
Have a person designated to be sober. Have them not just be the driver but the watcher. Here’s the thing, If your friends aren’t willing to take a turn to do this then they aren’t very good friends and you should probably find new ones. If you aren’t willing to do the same, then you aren’t either.
Step in if you see something suspicious. Ladies look out for each other. If your friend cannot sit straight in a chair she is in no way capable of giving consent to ANYTHING. Even if they are a stranger, tell the bartender, bouncer, call 911, get descriptions. DO NOT follow them out alone.
And though I likely don’t need to say this to the men reading here since they are subscribed to a women’s self defense page, but in the world of consent, be like Brody and don’t tattoo anyone who is sleeping.
If you or a friend has been sexually assaulted please reach down for the warrior inside and report. I know its terrifying, I know the feelings of misplaced guilt. There is amazing momentum going around the world right now, lets keep the support and knowledge of this going. RAINN Sexual Assault hotline can help 1-800- 656-HOPE. If you need a friend to go with you or to encourage you in any way, I am available day or night 479-899-3330
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Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal