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When is rape rape?
August 9, 2001
4:28 pm
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Cici
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I was researching new techniques in long-term rape survivor therapy and I came across an article about "The Other Victims of Rape" by Katie Roiphe (I think that's how you spell her name) in the NYT.

In it she says this: "One of the questions used to define rape was: 'Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs.' The phrasing raises the issue of agency. Why aren't college women responsible for their own intake of alcohol or drugs? A man may give her drugs, but she herself decides to take them. If we assume that women are not all helpless and naive, then they should be responsible for their choice to drink or take drugs. If a woman's "judgment is impaired" and she has sex, it isn't always the man's fault; it isn't necessarily always rape. "

This sturck a chord in me because I felt I was date raped, even though alcohol (and who know's what else) was involved. I was 19 by about 3 months when it happened and had never really been drunk. Tipsy on New Year's from Daddy's champagne, maybe, but never plastered.

This has made me think twice about my own memory of what happened. If this wasn't rape, why did I react so violently? Was it the past history of being raped at 12? Or being molested as a 5 year old? Was it all just something I constructed in my head to protect myself from ego-dystonic behavior?

What she said is a clearly-articulated written version of what has been going through my head, off and on, since the incident occurred. Regardless of what therapists and my husband have told me, it WAS partially my fault. I chose to drink. I chose to go on the date.

Part of me thinks that this is good. Owning up to my own part of the fault makes me think, hey, I can prevent this from happening again.

But the guilt that simply reading the article caused to boil up inside of me is so deafening. I've always felt, deep inside, that I was at fault. And here is the written proof, the public opinion, that I was right all along.

August 9, 2001
4:35 pm
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Cici
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August 9, 2001
4:53 pm
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Ladeska
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Cici....Actually, you both had responsibility. You are right - you need to own your part about willfully deciding to get drunk and put yourself in a vulnerable position. It's not like you planned it and wanted this to happen. Duh. And any idiot that would say that is full of it.

But, sweetheart - one does not cancel the other. It's not an all or nothing situation here. If you own some responsibility here - it doesn't absolve him of his responsibility and neither does it lessen the fact of how it hurt you - not at all. His guilt in all this is still as big as it ever was and so is your hurt.

I mean you can say...okay, if I'm a woman and I happen to be thinking about something else and looking at the ground when I walk to my car instead of head up and surveying what's going on around me....if....a man selects me as a victim because I look like a victim - then what he does to me is my fault, right? Wrong.

I put myself in a vulnerable position, true enough but NO ONE, no one has the right to take advantage of that and rape or assault another person. We could all be more careful, to not ever drink - lest we fall prey to someone, never leave our houses, never trust anyone, never talk to anyone...etc., etc. See where I am going with this? Sure you were in a vulnerable spot and you made a wrong move in that respect - but it's not in the same league as someone deciding to take your body against your wishes.

So, okay fine - give yourself the appropriate smack for doing what you did and allowing yourself to be this vulnerable and then leave it alone and let your pain be real and assign the other person his due as well. No painting this all black or all white or all you or all him. As usual, in life - it's a myriad of things that brings us to certain places in our lives.

You just really want to nail Cici up there on the wall and throw darts at her, don't you? (smile) No, no, no.....not today. Won't let you get away with this one. Try again though. Rather creative attempt, hadn't thought of this angle.... Nope, going to put the little princess back in her comfy little chair and put all her stuffed animals around her and tell her all those things she doesn't want to hear right now....namely that she has a right to her feelings and that she is validated in having them....and if you want to feel guilty...okay fine - go ahead..spin around in it for awhile, smear it all over yourself, especially get it behind your ears and under your arm pits, get it out of your system, own what you need to own and come back to the table where the other sides of this prism are.

August 9, 2001
5:06 pm
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gingerleigh
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Cici, I don't think that "public opinion" in this case is stating that you deserved to be raped, or that it was "your fault".

For instance, I'm sure if a woman were a bit tipsy, and a man tried to have sex with her, and she drunkenly said "no, don't wanna" and put up the best fight she could, but he went through with it anyway, that to me is still rape, whether she was inebriated or not. Now if she drank so much she passed out, or if she just sort of said inside her head "I don't really want this" and just went along with it, I would say that's not rape. That's poor judgement on her part, and not being true to her needs, both situations where she would need to accept at least partial responsibility for what happened.

My two cents.

And before you think I'm just shooting off my mouth like I usually am, this opinion is coming from someone who has both drunken so much she's blacked out, and also bit her tongue and went through with things she didn't want to do. I had to finally own up to being responsible for putting myself in situations that I regretted afterwards. It did feel really good to accept the responsibility for what happened, because I felt like I was much more in control after that. I didn't feel so victimized somehow, if that makes any sense.

So the guilt is boiling up... How can you get rid of that? You've learned, you're older and smarter, and you are going to take care of yourself. Can you forgive yourself now?

August 9, 2001
5:12 pm
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Ladeska
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You know what, sweetie....it's time....that you really, really realized how much you were wounded by these incidents. This was no small thing - either time. And your compulsion to want to tag someone with the guilt is quite normal. It's just that your hand with the dagger in it keeps turning back on you because no one else will be accountable. That's human nature. We want to resolve it - one way or another. We have to find justice, or make sense or give someone a freaking prison sentence. It's our nature. We need to make the pieces fit - even they are wrong. Something has to go there and if we can't get real justice, then we will drag our own body up to the hill where the cross is. But, you have to resist doing that, Cici. You have to resist giving into the lie that you hear in your head that says....."You must have.....done something......to have brought this on." Lawyers in this country have really done wonders with this one in the court room. They all need to be taken out back and raped and then brought back in to be interrogated by lawyers who are - just like them. That......is justice....

Gee, I guess we could use that argument for a lot of violent crimes.....so.....did you realize that if you wear black on a Monday - you could completely throw off the psychic vibrations of this man's vortex and make him go into a rage and try to beat you to death with a claw hammer in the middle of K-Mart's parking lot? What IS wrong with you that you didn't realize this could happen and that you would be the one that started the whole thing? Don't you read The Inquirer?????

I mean, really, I think that just because I get out on the freeway - I'm asking for it, don't you? The way people drive around here - I'm sure you could justifiably say that if I drove my car out into that madness - I'd be asking for it.

Nope, Cici......no minimizing today. You just got your hand slapped. And at the same time - you get a hug. How's that for confusing the cosmic forces in your head?

What happened to you is just flat bad and it needs to rest squarely on the head of the people who did it to you. Period.

August 9, 2001
9:19 pm
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damaged
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This is the government warning on a beer can.
GOVERNMENT WARNING:(1) According to the surgion general,women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth deffects. (2)Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car of operate machinery, and may cause health problems.

This can of beef never has a warning of (1) Woman should never drink alchololic beverages because you might get your [email protected]@ raped. (2)Comsumption of alcohol may invite anyone to have sex with you if you want them to are not.(3) According to may people if a woman drinks alcohol and she gets raped shame on her!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was dated raped as a teenager under the influence of alcholo. I was not being a flirtatious person. The boys that did this to me did this because they were bad people. I not one time forced myself on a woman or a man because they had to much to drink and I was having control issues. I'ts a bunch of bull sh%t to tell a woman she was to blame because she had to much to drink. damaged

August 9, 2001
9:23 pm
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Molly
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So I can't elaborate more than Ladeska and Gingeleigh, but want to ask you about this guilt thing. What purpose does it serve? I would refer to this as a big aahhaa moment. so, now your aware, if you could in some way put this event into perspective as to its signifigance today, I mean, go have some of that pizza, and see which is more signifigant. I am not trying to minimalize the trama that you have experienced, but don't want you walking down the street with a big red RV(rape victim) on your forehead. You are a beautiful soul, your experiences have shaped you to become who you are, your experience has taken you on a path to understand the human condition, and you continue to explore it, your lessons,and your wisdom from those lessons have served so many others, and how could your signifigance be measured with out them. Like the butterfly and the cocoon? I don't want to offend you in any way Cici, I just want you to be able to celebrate life, with out any hiccups. I know sucky analogy considering your stomach, but that is why I suggested the pizza, I wish one of us had the magic wand to smack on our heads for the healing. Ladeska?

August 9, 2001
9:54 pm
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Cici
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Ha ha. Actually, I'm not offended or anything like that. It's true. And the truth is just hard to stomach. I think the human brain is like a cow's stomach. Multiple chambers, and we keep regurgitating experiences and chewing our figurative cud, so to speak.

So, you regurgitate, chew your cud, repeat the process over and over until the thing is finally digested. Experience integrated, growth achieved, lesson learned. Onto the next bit of undigested cellulose. What a weird analogy.

But the tribal council has spoken! Thank you for your thoughts. I think that it's necessary to hear some rational voices from outside of your own head, the kind that are unflinchingly honest, and you guys are pretty good at that, I must say.
Gracias!

August 10, 2001
12:57 am
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juliet1
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The consumption of alcohol and unwanted sexual intercourse are two completely separate issues. I have heard dozens of stories of men who had intercourse with a woman while she was passed out. Drinking until you pass out is not a free pass for someone to have his/her way with you. If you drank until you passed out and when you woke up your wallet was gone, or your car, would the thief be justified in robbing you because you felt like getting plowed? I think the point of view that it's a woman's fault if someone bones her while she's under the influence is highly sexist. After all, it's not women screwing men under the influence, it's usually men screwing women, or in a handful of cases, men preying after other men.

I think the idea that a woman or a man has to take responsibility for the amount of alcohol and/or drugs they consume is right on. But no matter how much a person ever drinks or uses, it's not okay to force or coerce sexual contact. There are many people in our society who are impaired by illnesses such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injuries, Down's syndrome, autism. . . We would never look at these people and decide it's okay to force or coerce them into sex because they are mentally challenged. An alcoholic on a bender faces similar mental challenges.

Any person about to engage in sexual contact with another had better know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the partner is consenting. To do anything else is irresponsible and demonstrative of immaturity and lack of consideration for the partner. For any woman, who, like me, was preyed upon while "under the influence" please, take responsibility for your substance use/abuse habits, but by no means take responsibility for the unfeeling creep who decided to take advantage of you when all you wanted was to have a little fun.

Juliet1

August 10, 2001
1:01 am
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malaikau
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I guess if all some men need to consider permission granted when it comes to sex is for a woman to lay there like she's unconscious, there are a lot of unfortunate women in the world faking headaches and sleep who are in for a rude awakening. . .

Mal

August 10, 2001
1:01 am
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damaged
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Juliet1
You go girl!!!!!!!!!!! I think you sayed it. For me anyway.

August 10, 2001
7:26 am
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grass
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I would write more on this topic but it seems like all of you took the words right out of my mouth.
Some great truths spoken hear. It's nice to see you guys recognize them. So many pl. beleive myths about rape and unfortunately victims too. What I have just read above, is something that every women and man should read. It is scary the amount of women that are raped b/c pl. think that it is o.k and partly her fault if she is under the influence.

Cici, I'm glad that you are finally facing these questions that you have been struggling with since you were 19. I hope that you can come to some closure on it 🙂
Blessings to all.

August 10, 2001
12:42 pm
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mel2
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I was raped when I was in college 20 some years ago. I was a virgin and I was drunk. I met this guy at the bar and when to his apartment with him. We started making out and he wanted more and I told him NO. He threw me on the bed and he was a college wrestler and got me in a position so I could not move and raped me, all the while I'm screaming NO NO NO. I made the choice to go to his apartment drunk, but there was no way I was even thinking about having sex with him being a virgin. I take responsibility for the risk of going with him inebriated, but he was wrong also. I said NO and I meant it.

August 10, 2001
1:53 pm
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gingerleigh
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Exactly, Mel. It is absolutely inexcusable for a man to force himself on a woman no matter what state she is in (or a woman to do the same to another person as well). That much I think we can all agree on.

However, as women, we must recognize that due to our anatomy and muscle structure, we are in the vast majority of cases at a great disadvantage to protect ourselves if a stronger male decides that he wants to have sex whether we do or not. Those are the facts. In light of that, we MUST take responsibility to keep ourselves out of situations where we would be unable to protect ourselves, meaning keep the drinking in uncertain situations to a minimum, etc.

Because when it gets right down to it, in cases of rape, at some point fault becomes a moot point. It HAPPENED, and that can't be changed.

August 10, 2001
2:26 pm
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Cici
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I think this kind of stuff should be made clear in sex education classes. Sure, it's horrifying, violent, violating, but it's truth.

I mean, you hear about rape all the time, but what pre-teen girl, what woman for that matter, ever thinks about being raped? Who would want to? But it's a reality that all women should be exposed to.

Then again, we supposedly have some program on campus to increase rape-awareness. I almost volunteered, but chickened out during the first meeting. But I've never seen a booth, or a pamphlet, or a rally, or anything to publicize the group!

August 10, 2001
2:57 pm
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Ladeska
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It's such a "closed door" thing. Let's not talk about it, sweep it under the rug, ignore it, deny it and maybe it will just go away. It's a really sticky web. We seem to have a problem answering the question - does a man have the right to rape a woman? It's a simple question and alot of people will go NOOO!!! But, uh....what we DO says quite differently. Actions speak and we are a long, long way from Kansas, Toto.

About the only thing I can say is - all of us who are gathered here - do something where you are. Get involved, inspire people, volunteer as a rape counselor, speak out, write articles, talk to teens, make waves.

It only takes one thing said or done to make a huge impact on a person's life. We are ignorant about so many things because - we act ignorant. We talk alot, but DO nothing. So, if we are truly tired of all this bullshit - get going. Make a statement, take a stand, be heard and do it with style. We don't need to blow anyone over here, we want to "inspire", to educate, to provide understanding, insight and to push us all one step further along....and that includes the perpetrators as well. If we don't help them, we won't advance. There are alot of wounded men out there who become perps because our society does not provide a place of healing for men who have been sexually abused as children. It's taboo, so they don't get help and we look the other way. What's up with that? Sure they are "men", but they are also - vulnerable human beings who get just as hurt and damaged as any woman.

If we are going to really change things or try to - we have to look at the "big" picture. We desperately need education and just some people talking very, very frankly and straight to the issue.

August 10, 2001
4:06 pm
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mel2
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You're right Ladeska. 20 years ago there was no way I was going to the cops. In fact, I portrayed the total opposite. I told my friends that now I was a "Woman of the World." When in fact, I was really hurting and angry inside. I acted like it was a rite of passage and now I was part of the group because I finally had sex. It's too bad, but the cops probably wouldn't have done anything about anyway because I was drunk and voluntarily went home with this guy. That's how is was back then and still is today. It's the woman's fault if she was drunk and went with a total stranger to his house. And the woman is portrayed as the slut, whore or whatever and the guy was just doing what came natural to him. And I went right along with it too.

August 10, 2001
6:12 pm
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Molly
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Cici, its been kind of my regressive point, the old fashioned stuff. I watched a movie the other day, and all my old lessons triggered my anxiety, I can't stand to watch violence against women. She was going to meet her lover in the park, it was late at night, she was alone.
As I saw her standing at the bridge, looking for her lover, I jumped out of my chair, knowing a woman never goes to a park, late at night alone, she was called by some one she did not know but knew her, he lured her closer with conversation, she was backing away, said he had a note from the lover, and when she got closer to get it he grabbed her, and started his business, rape. The sad part is the lover showed up, saved her from the creep, and then because he was drunk from drowning his sorrows, for his love for her that her father said, no way, raped her as well, but the truth of the matter is, we know better than to walking in the park at night all alone.
yea, sex ed classes should teach it, but what about common sense, duh, mom said don't drink but we do, mom said don't go to parties, but we do, mom said don't talk to strangers but we do, and give them our phone numbers, mom said a man only wants one thing, and we ignore her, how many times have we heard the joke, no, no, no, yes yes no, no, ok. So, its our responsibility to know what is safe and what isn't . Like how many times have you gone to the ready teller in the wee hours thinking your safe??????? We think we have the right to safty, but given the knowen, are we??????? How many women in college towns still go to bars, and put their drink down, go dance and come back and take a sip, we shouldn't have to worry but ........
given our knowledge, go figure.

August 10, 2001
11:51 pm
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Alena
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Nobody has a right to commit a crime against
another person when they are vulnerable, drunk,
drugged, or incapacitated for whatever reason.
Period. Yeah, stay smart and don’t drink too much,
If you get drunk or drugged, be it by your own hand
or someone else’s, you’re being irresponsible with
your DRINKING. You are not responsible for what
happens to you after that. Nobody has a right to rob
an unconscious person, you cannot steal their car
claiming that they were passed out drunk so it must
be okay and hey,they passed out so they’re responsible
for someone else’s behavior.

How in the world can
anyone say you are in any way responsible for anything
that happens to you after you are rendered incapable. Are we implying that hey, if I drink too much, just go ahead and assume I want to have sex, even if I say, or look like I don't?
Okay, so after you’ve prosecuted and convicted the rapist,
come up with a law where you can try the chick for stupidity
and I’ll agree with that, but drinking too much and the act of
intercourse are 2 entirely different actions.

And fault is a
very important part of the healing because, and I’ll speak
for myself, I agonized for years (20, to be exact) that
it must have been my fault. How could someone I KNEW
hurt me like that? Okay, so a stranger would almost be a
better rape because then you don’t ask yourself what you did
to ASK for this. But, I didn’t do anything to ask for it.
I went out on a date with someone I trusted, I drank with
him, so what? Was that a free pass? No, it wasn’t. It was
drinking, period. How I was affected by the drinking does not alter my
rights. My right not to be violated does not stop because I’ve
had too much to drink. In my opinion, fault is a very big part of it. I needed
to put fault where it belonged, only then could I stop
punishing myself for something HE did.

And my other thought is that it is up to us as moms to keep
drilling it home to our daughters to be aware. But as a mother
of only sons, I think it starts right here, with the raising of
boys to responsible, respectful men. I didn’t join a group,
I made sure that 2 men would be taken off the “possibly someday
date rapist” list. Not these guys, never qualify for it, thank God.
They both learned what happened to me when they were about
20 or so, but much earlier in their lives they learned to respect
other peoples bodies, things, property. They learned to be men
who can take no for an answer, they learned to respect women
as equals and not pieces of meat. So, yes, as women, as sisters,
we need to educate, no doubt. But as moms, please teach your
little baby boys to love and respect women and their rights.
Just my 2 cents on a desperately important issue.

Cici, the only thing you were guilty of was drinking too much.
Your guilt stops there.

August 12, 2001
5:26 am
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zfractal
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Quote from Alena:

"Nobody has a right to commit a crime against another person when they are vulnerable, drunk, drugged, or incapacitated for whatever reason."

No person has a right to commit a crime against any other person, regardless of their physical or mental state. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

That being said, if a woman says 'no' or clearly communicates the equivalent in a conscious state, that qualifies as rape. If unconscious, it is assumed that the answer is 'no'.

Just my two cents.

August 13, 2001
2:29 am
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malaikau
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Why would we consider it stupid for a woman to go walking in the park alone after dark? We would not judge a man as stupid for doing such a thing! Why do we consider a woman who drinks too much and agrees to be alone with a man even if she doesn't want to have sex as foolish? We would not look at a man who did such a thing and think him to be unintelligent! Why in this society do we enforce the belief that women should change their behavior in order to stay safe from predators? Why don't we, as a society, men and women alike, demand that the perpetrators change their behavior in order to keep us safe? There are so many subtle, seemingly insignificant ways to blame the victim that I don't even think we always realize when we are. . .

August 13, 2001
12:37 pm
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Ladeska
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These are all good questions, good comments and the straight-up truth. I do have to say though, that one thing sticks out to me in our society - when you look at our advertisements, the things that are on T.V., the lyrics to alot of songs, especially Rap, etc., etc. - we are giving a message in all of that which says - go ahead, it's okay. I'm not sure we can stop this either. The cat's out of the bag now and no one is going to want to backtrack and say - hey, this is a dangerous thing we are doing. Sex sells. Mixed signals going on and I'm not sure we can correct this. And what I'm talking about isn't just about being sexy - it's about crossing the line and being encouraged to do so by what we advertise and plaster up on the screen and on billboards. And this freedom of speech crap goes a little bit too far when it's okay for a rapper to say - rape the bitch, ya know? What's up with all this? Why do we have freedom of speech here on the net that says - having sex with children is great! Am I missing something here? Where are our laws? Where are the boundaries?

August 13, 2001
12:49 pm
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Molly
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The truth is today, it is not safe for a man to walk alone in a park or anywhere else at night, far less a woman, who truly is less prepared to defend herself, how ever we are learning.
Today it is not safe to even pull over on the side of the road, after some one has had a car accident, they are now advising women, especially due to the recent 4th of July murder, here in California, to drive directly if your car is still operable to a police department, there is no way to protect your self from an ak47.
There is a fine line between what you believe to be your right as an individual, and friggin common sense today.
As long as our systems in place care more for the welfare for the sake of argument of the perpatrator, vs the victims this is the society that we must adapt to.
Common sense tells us, that if we drink in our own home we are safe, if we walk in our own back yard we should be safe, yet we are still reminded, not to encourage acts of violence, by keeping drapes closed, doors locked, etc. The same goes for stepping out of our homes, dress, attitude, and locations all play into the use of common sense, in a society that has abandonded it.

Sure hypotheticlly, we should be able to do what we want when we want, but is it really a good idea, knowing the reality of life today?

August 13, 2001
1:35 pm
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malaikau
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When we can unite, and most especially involve MEN who are willing to work hard and advocate for the safety of all people, then common sense will not say that we have to lock our doors, or dress a certain way to keep from being victimized. It will say that we don't abuse, assault, rape, or murder one another. And the blame will fall where it should, on the perpetrators of such crimes, not on the victims who's actions did not warrant such behavior on the part of the abusers. . .

August 13, 2001
1:45 pm
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malaikau
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I just want to add, before something is misunderstood, that what I'm advocating for here is a big change. I'm advocating for a change in our society, rather than an acceptance of the "norms". I think that we do have the power to make changes in our world. If I didn't believe that, I couldn't do the kind of work I do. . .
I hope there are others out there who believe the same. That united we stand, divided we fall--and we can, as a group, make a real and positive difference. . .

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