talking to teen girls about the connection between alcohol and sexual assault - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 10-16-2013, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm curious how others are approaching conversations with their daughters (or sons) about the connection between alcohol and sexual assault. To me, it is important to convey the message that "you need to keep your wits about you to keep yourself as safe as possible" without giving a message that ANY victim of a sexual assault is to blame.

 

Here is an interesting article from Slate that just came out (after Anonymous announced that it would take on the situation in Maryville Mo)

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/10/sexual_assault_and_drinking_teach_women_the_connection.html


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#2 of 21 Old 10-16-2013, 02:18 PM
 
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I've been approaching it similarly to you. We talk about how assault is never the victim's fault, and it's never ever okay no matter what the excuse. But we also talk about personal safety and self-protection, from the perspective that she must never rely on anyone else for her safety, and that she must be responsible for herself and always be aware of her surroundings and situation. I often admit to her that we live in a messed-up world, and that it's not fair that she has to be on guard against other people's bad behavior -- but it's the way it is.

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#3 of 21 Old 10-17-2013, 03:30 AM
 
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I think that  the issue of getting drunk & sexual assault is the same as the issue of flashing a lot of money (or jewelry) on the street and getting robbed.  Everyone should have the right to walk around in the streets and flash wads of cash or wear lots of jewelry without being robbed. And plenty of people do so without getting robbed. But think it is wise to tell kids how to make themselves a less tempting target for robbery to avoid such behavior. And acknowledge that sometimes people  get robbed even if they were not wearing lots of jewelry or flashing cash.

 

So, to tell kids "You know, if you get really drunk, you are more likely to make yourself a target for theft or sexual assault. Be careful how much you drink; try to keep an eye on your drink so no one can add stuff to it." No biggie.  It's like teaching them to keep hold of their wallet or purse in a way to avoid pick-pockets on trains or buses; or any self-protection skills.

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#4 of 21 Old 10-17-2013, 07:44 AM
 
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We discuss the fallout from consumption of alcohol and other drugs in terms of the need to protect personal safety and maintain responsibility in all sorts of circumstances, not just sexual assault. They need to be very careful with anything that impairs judgement and diminishes their physical and mental abilities to take action. If you are intoxicated, you are in a very vulnerable state. You could find yourself in all sorts of unsafe situations. It could be getting into a car with a drunk driver or getting mugged or losing your wallet or purse or any number of bad scenarios other than sexual assault, It isn't a matter of blaming the victim. It's a matter of preserving your ability to avoid jeopardy whenever possible and if necessary, to defend yourself.   

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#5 of 21 Old 10-29-2013, 11:44 PM
 
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I agree that it's very important to emphasize that it's never the victim's fault when sexual assault happens.  But there are risk factors, alcohol consumption being one of them.  There's plenty of info on the web about the risk factors relating to rape and framing it this way ensures that the girls know that being intoxicated doesn't make it their fault if it happens and helps the guys know that intoxication of him or the female isn't an excuse. 

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#6 of 21 Old 11-07-2013, 01:55 PM
 
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I read this thread awhile ago, and while at first i agreed with the general idea, i started to feel uncomfortable with it.

 

I dont recall, ever feeling like i might get raped because i got a bit inebriated. 

 

Heres the thing-who goes out drinking alone? Now if you did that, you might be at risk.  You're also at risk of anything happening to you because a drunk person is less aware of their surroundings. But why highlight rape above all else?

 

On the other hand,  if you're with friends, or your boyfriend, how is are you going to be raped? If your boyfriend rapes you, then he's a jerk,  but you cant go through life fearing you'll be raped by any man yo have a drink with.

 

At least if its your boyfriend, you know who he is, and its easy to go to the police.

 

So the boyfriend should be the one who is wary, not the girl. Ie if he wants to rape someone, he better make sure he covers his tracks.

 

Also, there is a difference between inebriated and so drunk you can barely move. The latter, we hope, will happen rarely, if ever.

 

In other words, a girl should be allowed to drink without being afraid of being raped.  What she should ensure however, is that she is with friends, or people she trusts.

 

Personally, what person wants to go out drinking alone anyway?

 

Being drunk has absolutely nothing to do with being raped. Alcohol has nothing to do with being raped. Rapists rape and should be held accountable, end of story. 

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#7 of 21 Old 11-07-2013, 02:25 PM
 
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I think everybody in this thread has made good points. I do think there's merit to talking about ways to keep yourself safe when you're out, either in a group or by yourself. If you're by yourself, then it's a bad idea to get drunk because you lose the ability to take care of yourself. If you're with friends, make sure you trust them to keep an eye out for you... this is not a task to be entrusted to "friends" you just met or are iffy about. Also, even if you're not driving, make sure that one member of the group is the designated sober person; having one person who has their wits about them and is looking out for the others is good. I think this all applies to everyone, not just girls, not just because of the fear of sexual assault. A lone drunk guy may be less likely to be raped but is still vulnerable to theft, passing out and hurting himself, deciding sure he's okay to drive when he's not, or whatever. 

 

I have gone out drinking not "by myself" but with people I didn't know really well... and I compensated by staying sober enough to keep an eye out for myself just in case. Also, I was experienced enough with alcohol by that point to know how much was too much for me and avoid reaching that point. Teens or college students who are just starting to experiment with alcohol may lack that consciousness as well, so that would be another point to discuss. 

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#8 of 21 Old 11-08-2013, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

I dont recall, ever feeling like i might get raped because i got a bit inebriated. 

 

Heres the thing-who goes out drinking alone? Now if you did that, you might be at risk.  You're also at risk of anything happening to you because a drunk person is less aware of their surroundings. But why highlight rape above all else?

 

....Also, there is a difference between inebriated and so drunk you can barely move. The latter, we hope, will happen rarely, if ever.

 

In other words, a girl should be allowed to drink without being afraid of being raped.  What she should ensure however, is that she is with friends, or people she trusts.

 

 

I doubt that most women who are raped when drunk have a feeling like they might be raped before they actually get raped. I think, in general, it is a shock.

 

People who are new to drinking tend to find out how alcohol affects them by crossing over the line. People often misjudge who they can trust. The reason there is a link between alcohol and rape is because this is a really dangerous combination.

 

According to the link in my OP, most college women rape survivors are raped by classmates, not strangers.  This isn't about going out drinking alone, but being social with people that you really don't know that well, which is often the case for highschool and college students, who meet a ton of new people by virtue of attending school with thousands of students.

 

In my conversations with my daughters, I stress the the need to be with people *you can trust with your life* when learning how alcohol effects your body, and I'm frank about the fact that there is a link between being impaired and being assaulted. 

 

yes, rapist should be held accountable for their actions. That isn't a question.

 

And why rape above all else? Because it is very common, and it is life shattering. Having your wallet stolen isn't in the same category at all.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 05:55 AM
 
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contactmama i get what you are saying and i also see what Linda is saying too. 

 

essentially the basic idea is how to prepare to keep our daughters safe. no matter how old, no matter what the situation is. the statistics are way too high. i think one in 3 women (in my humble opinion this is a more realistic number - a worldwide statistic where no one country is better than the other, its more blatant and open in some) has been sexually molested in some form. 

 

just to keep their eyes and ears open. even at 20, 30, 40. some have a sense around them. some dont and need advice and guidance.

 

though i think the best 'safety factor' is for the child to have at least one trusted adult in their life, apart from parents, someone who they can talk to. i have a 11 year old and i know dd worries about me. sometimes she doesnt want to tell me things because she does not want to worry me. 

 

because i feel to be truly safe one must be able to talk to someone about their suspicions. or at least advice - hey this boy was doing this and even though it looked innocent i wasnt sure about it. do you think i was right to be suspicious. i hope dd talks to me, but since i am an older mom i notice sometimes she chooses younger people to go to for advice - right now for things like makeup and skin care.  


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#10 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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though i think the best 'safety factor' is for the child to have at least one trusted adult in their life, apart from parents, someone who they can talk to.

This is very important.

 

Another issue that struck me when reading this, is for a woman to have a sense of how to use the legal system to protect herself. I certainly didnt have much  idea of how to do this. There is a sense of empowerment when you know how specifically to protect your rights proactively.

 

In my experience, alcohol was never the problem. But i did have my drink spiked with a date raping drug. It was only in the aftermath that i realized what had happened. That is something that i would want to make a girl out drinking very aware of-ie if the taste is disgusting, and you start to feel very weak, thats not alcohol. Call the police, or call someone you trust to get you.

 

I agree with Linda on the Move says as well.  I suppose i would advise my daughter  when she has not had much experience with alcohol, would be to go easy, and let her body get used to it. Never put yourself in a position of vulnerability unless you are with people you really trust. Perhaps, the first experiences of drinking are better off done at home.

 

My mother and i never had this discussion, because my mother never had alcohol :shrug

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#11 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 12:07 PM
 
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I am uncomfortable with how we always phrase rape in the passive voice. "Might get raped" as if it's not being done by anyone in particular. You don't have to be drunk to get raped, but you do have to be around a rapist.

I'm fine with telling my daughter that being drunk makes her more likely to be a victim, but I'm careful to phrase it in a way that doesn't make it seem like getting drunk is what caused the rape. "There are men and teenage boys who watch for women to get drunk, or spike their drinks with drugs, so that they can take advantage and rape them." And that it isn't her fault if it happens but you can't tell who is a rapist by looking at them so it's best to be careful.
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#12 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 12:11 PM
 
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My personal experience is that a lot of girls I knew in high school and college (and a few boys) did things and had things done TO them that they wouldn't have done or might have had a better shot of protecting themselves from if not for alcohol, or something else that ended up in their drink.  The reality is that most young people are far too trusting and assume people are "friends" long before they really KNOW them and that sadly, there are people who will take advantage of you if they think you won't be able to defend yourself or your story won't be credible.  That pack of guys at the bar isn't sending you all those shots because they think you're such a good person, ya know?

 

When I start listing out all the women I know who have been victims of sexual assault while under the influence, it's a long, sad list.  Not a single one of them "deserved it" or "was asking for it" but I can't help but think at least being sober gives you a fighting chance :-( 

 

I will tell my daughter not to walk alone on campus at night, I will tell her to wear a seat belt, I will remind her to lock her doors and not flash around her cash - why wouldn't I tell her this?

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#13 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 12:16 PM
 
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It does not help matters when our culture seems to think women only get horny when drunk.

I talked to my daughter and my son about mutual desire. And not doing the deed under the influence of anything.
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#14 of 21 Old 11-11-2013, 12:33 PM
 
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Yes Mean Yes is an amazing blog and I wish every woman could read this: 

 

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/

 

Oct 10th's  "...blocking Rapists is a Moral Obligation" is particularly relevant to this conversation about alcohol and sexual assault. 

 

Meet the Predators, Predator Redux and This is What Rape Culture Looks Like, are all just excellent articles to read. This was eye-opening and consciousness-raising stuff. 

 

Read it!


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#15 of 21 Old 11-12-2013, 08:09 AM
 
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I am uncomfortable with how we always phrase rape in the passive voice. "Might get raped" as if it's not being done by anyone in particular. You don't have to be drunk to get raped, but you do have to be around a rapist.

I'm fine with telling my daughter that being drunk makes her more likely to be a victim, but I'm careful to phrase it in a way that doesn't make it seem like getting drunk is what caused the rape.
"There are men and teenage boys who watch for women to get drunk, or spike their drinks with drugs, so that they can take advantage and rape them." And that it isn't her fault if it happens but you can't tell who is a rapist by looking at them so it's best to be careful.

Well put.

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#16 of 21 Old 11-12-2013, 08:11 AM
 
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Yes Mean Yes is an amazing blog and I wish every woman could read this: 

 

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/

 

Oct 10th's  "...blocking Rapists is a Moral Obligation" is particularly relevant to this conversation about alcohol and sexual assault. 

 

Meet the Predators, Predator Redux and This is What Rape Culture Looks Like, are all just excellent articles to read. This was eye-opening and consciousness-raising stuff. 

 

Read it!

Thankyou

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#17 of 21 Old 11-15-2013, 02:03 PM
 
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More thoughts.  You know those statements that define something you've observed but never put into words?  From that website, a really concise, well-worded comment: "a small portion of the male population keeps virtually all women in fear and causes them to curtail their freedoms to avoid violence".  Not only does this make me furious, but it clarifies for me and defines even more what I'm looking at. 

 

Forgive me for going off on a tangent, and not staying alcohol-related.  But I think this is soooo helpful for young people to understand:  men who rape aren't like the weather.  I'm going to paraphrase the article:  "The implicit model of rapists..." for many people "...is one of an unthinking phenomena, one that does not respond to stimulus, that therefore we can’t do anything about it but get out of the way."  People who live in earthquake country learn how to keep themselves safe for the inevitable next earthquake.  "All we can do is look out for them, avoid encountering them, and minimize the damage when they occur."  That's not how we should view people who victimize!

 

I guess analogies really help illustrate an important distinction for me, so this comparison to drunk driving and rape culture is enlightening. 

 

"We didn’t deal with drunk driving in this country by telling people, 'hey, you can’t control drunk drivers, so minimize driving when the bars are closing!'  We dealt with it by a combination of a massive public awareness campaign, and imposing real accountability-  not just jail sentences, but more prosaically, license suspensions.  Drunk driving costs the drunk drivers something now, and it didn’t three decades ago.  We didn’t end drunk driving deaths, but we knocked them down a lot."

 

"The public awareness campaign was not about getting drivers in the other cars to avoid circumstances where they might encounter drunk drivers. It was about (1) convincing the drunk drivers that what they were doing was wrong and could hurt people; (2) convincing the drunk drivers that they would face consequences; and (3) convincing bystanders and passengers to stop the drunk drivers. Likewise, I want to focus all attention — all of it — around rape prevention on (1) convincing the rapists that they are wrong and hurt people; (2) convincing the rapists that they will face consequences;and (3) convincing bystanders to stop the rapists."

 

I love it. So well put.  I think you have to add one more factor, about convincing rapists that rape hurts people...they don't care. They don't care that it hurts.  They minimize their victim's value.  This particular woman isn't his equal. So his pleasure is all that matters.

 

Back to talking to our girls about alcohol and assault (again, paraphrasing what someone else),  she doesn't need to choose between fighting for society to prosecute rape/end rape culture OR being proactive about her own personal safety. She can do both.


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#18 of 21 Old 11-15-2013, 03:11 PM
 
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Also, there is a difference between inebriated and so drunk you can barely move. The latter, we hope, will happen rarely, if ever.  Getting hammered is very common. This is par for the course in many colleges. Rape goes hand-in-hand with college drinking culture. But I completely agree, getting a little tipsy is different from getting hammered and blacking out.  One is fun, the other is just insane.

 

 

Yet another link to a really great article. http://annfriedman.com/post/64213173982/college-men-stop-getting-drunk

 

 

 

Edited to eliminate severe nit-pickiness. 


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#19 of 21 Old 03-29-2014, 07:35 AM
 
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#20 of 21 Old 03-29-2014, 08:31 AM
 
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I remember my dad telling me that if I was ever in a bar that seemed shady, to be sure to order beer in a bottle (rather than whatever was on tap) and make sure it was opened on the counter while I was watching so I could be sure nothing was slipped into my drink...

 

I've told my son that he should be somewhere safe with people he trusts if he is trying alcohol or anything.

 

And I've told him only yes means yes. I lived through the "no means no" era and it wasn't good enough. You'd hear of guys using "she didn't say no" as an excuse when the woman had passed out. You'd hear of people saying they thought they were role playing and that they didn't realize the woman really meant no. 

 

Also, young women can give ambiguous messages and I don't want my son at risk having to interpret them. Anything less than a yes could mean rape charges.  I can't imagine him treating a woman poorly, but my hopes are that my son will also be a good influence on any buddies he may have as a young adult.


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#21 of 21 Old 03-29-2014, 12:22 PM
 
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Your dad offered good advice...although bottled beer is usually more expensive than on the tap-an important consideration for student. I like your  advice to yoru son too...something i am going  to have to think about with my growing boys.

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