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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Monday, August 11, 2003

For my sisters:

I don't mean to be sexist here, but we as women are far more often the vicitms of sexual assault (rape is only one sort of this kind of evil). One in four of us will face that ugly truth first hand, and we all have that nightmarish possiblity in the back of our minds. As such, there's a few things that I want to say, just in case.

1. It is not your fault. It doesn't matter how you were dressed, where you went, how late you were out, or how much you drank. There is nothing that you could possibly have done to deserve to be treated that way. You are not responsible for your attacker's behavior.

2. Report what happened-- immediately. Call the police. The fire department. Your best friend. The sooner you let someone know, the sooner you can get help, physical, emotional, spiritual. This is not something that you can put out of your mind and expect to go away by itself. It won't.

3. Go to the hospital, just as you are. Do not go home and take a shower. Do not change your clothes, or comb your hair, or wash your hands, or brush your teeth, or go to the bathroom. Hot water will not cleanse your soul; all it does is destroy evidence.

4. Get help. The exam is not easy, and neither is answering the really blunt questions that must be asked; but it's easier when you've got someone to hold on to for support. Ask for a woman doctor. And then for someone to sit with you, to be at your side. This can be a spouse, a friend, a nurse-- or even the hospital chaplain. The same applies afterward, as long as you need it. Reaching for help doesn't make you weak-- it makes you human; and, in the long run, stronger.


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