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Information: Sexual Abuse & Assault

Open Discussions About Rape and Sexual Assault.

Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 17, 2006 3:42 pm

Common Myths About Abuse in Gay Male Relationships:

"Gay men are rarely victims of abuse by their partners."

Men can be and are abused. This myth makes it particularly hard for men to come forward for help.

"When violence occurs between gay men in a relationship, it's a fight, it's normal, it's 'boys will be boys.'"

Using violence or 'taking it' is not normal; it is an unhealthy way to relate to others.

"Abuse in gay male relationships primarily involves apolitical gay men, or gay men who are part of the bar culture."

Abuse occurs regardless of race, class, religion, age, political affiliation or life style.

"Abuse in gay male relationships is sexual behavior: it's a version of sadomasochism and the victims actually like it."

In s/m there are mutually agreed upon verbal contracts between the involved parties. No such contract exists between an abuser and his victim.*

"It is easier for a gay man to leave his abusive partner that it is for a heterosexual woman to leave her abusive partner."

It is never easy to leave an abusive relationship.

*This applies to lesbian relationships as well.


Abuse in Same-Sex Relationships Versus Abuse in Opposite-Sex Relationships:

What is the Same:

Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser and is always a choice.

Victims are often blamed for the abuse by partners, and sometimes even family, friends and professionals can excuse or minimize the abusive behavior.

It is difficult for victims to leave abusive relationships.

Abuse is not an acceptable or healthy way to solve difficulties in relationships, regardless of orientation.

Victims feels responsible for their partner's violence and their partner's emotional state, hoping to prevent further violence.

Abuse usually worsens over time.

The abuser is often apologetic after abusing, giving false hope that the abuse will stop.

Some or all of the following effects of abuse may be present: shame, self-blame, physical injuries, short and long-term health problems, sleep disturbances, constantly on guard, social withdrawal, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, shock, and dissociative states.


What is Different:

Very limited services exist specifically for abused and abusive lesbians and gay men.

Lesbians and gay men often experience a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the abuse when reporting incidences of violence to a therapist, police officer or medical personnel.

Homophobia in society denies the reality of lesbian and gay men's lives, including the existence of lesbian and gay male relationships, let alone abusive ones. When abuse exists, attitudes often range from 'who cares' to 'these relationships are generally unstable or unhealthy.'


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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 17, 2006 3:43 pm

Q: Common Emotional Feelings

A: There is no single way a person will react after being sexually assaulted. The following are some of the possible reactions people may experience however each individual will react differently according to their own personal situation.

Shock and Disbelief

I can't believe this has happened to me.
I can't stop crying.
I want to cry but I can't.
I feel so shaky and restless.
I feel so numb/cold.
Why am I so calm?
This doesn't feel real.
I feel like I'm outside myself watching this.


Confusion and Disorganization

I can't concentrate.
I can't make a decision about anything.
I can usually do this easily but not now.
I don't know what I should do.
I don't know where to turn.


Fear

I'm afraid. He could have killed me.
What if I see him again?
What if I contracted a disease?
What if I'm never "normal" again?
What if other people find out?
What will my family think? My partner? My friends?


Depression

I'll never get over this. It's hopeless.
How can I go on?
I feel so tired all the time.
I don't want to see anyone.
I don't enjoy anything. I'm bored.
I deserve to be punished. I'm bad.
I'm having so many nightmares. I can't sleep.
I'm eating all the time/I don't feel like eating anything.


Anxiety

I'm so jittery. Everything startles me.
My muscles are always twitching.
I can't relax.
I feel faint.
I have hot and cold flashes.
I feel nauseous (sick).
I have diarrhea all the time.
I feel like I have to be aware of everything around me.


Shame and Loss of Self-esteem

I feel dirty and soiled.
I feel used, useless, and worthless.
Everybody hates me.
I'm no good.
I can't do anything right.
I'm a terrible person.
I can never let anyone know.


Guilt

It's my fault
I should have known better.
I never should have been there.
I must have done something to cause it.
Maybe it was what I was wearing.


Anger

I hate him/her.
I hate all men.
I hate everybody.
I hate myself.
Someone should have been there to stop it.
Where were the police?
Why doesn't everybody just leave me alone?





You do not have to remain immobilized by your feelings.
When you are ready, you can take back control of your life.
You may want the help of family, friends, and/or professional counselling.
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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 17, 2006 3:43 pm

WHY TELL
I told someone about the sexual assault because . . .


I didn't want this to happen to me again
I didn't want this to happen to someone else
The feelings kept building up inside of me, making me feel worse
I wanted to take action against the person that assaulted me
I was behaving differently at home and my parents kept asking what was wrong
I realized that the problem was too big for me to deal with alone and I needed help
I was having trouble eating
I kept thinking about what happened and couldn't concentrate
I was having trouble sleeping
My friends couldn't figure out why I was acting different
I hoped that by telling someone I would feel better
I kept crying and my friends encouraged me to talk
I needed some help deciding what to do


WHY NOT TELL
Here are some reasons individuals who have been sexually assaulted didn't want to tell . . .


I thought it was my fault
I was too embarrassed
I thought people would talk about me if they knew
I was afraid. He said he would come back and hurt me if I told
I thought no one would believe me
I just want to forget about it
I want to deal with this myself
I was afraid to tell the police
My parents have enough to deal with
My parents might get mad at me
I was afraid of what my father may do
I can't let my boy/girl friend find out
Here are some reasons specific to guys . . .


I was afraid people will think I'm a "wuss"
I thought people might think that I'm gay
I'm embarrassed that another guy touched me sexually
The offender threatened to beat me up if I said anything
I didn't realize what was happening
I thought this person was my friend
I could lose my place on the team if I told on the coach
What if girls won't like me anymore


WHERE TO TELL
Choosing a place is also very important. Consider finding . . .


A quiet place where there are no distractions
A place where you will not be interrupted
A place where you feel safe
A place where you can cry if you want to, shout if you want to, and not feel ashamed


WHO TO TELL
Choosing the right person to tell can help you feel better. It is important to tell someone that you trust. This can be your . . .

Parents
Someone in your family

Teacher
Doctor/Nurse

Friend
Sexual Assault Care Centre

Police
Counsellor

Religious
Leader
Someone that you know who
will help you


WHAT TO TELL
When you tell the person you trust, consider telling only what you feel comfortable talking about . . .


It is more important to talk about how you are feeling than the details of the assault
It's not necessary to talk about the incident all at once
It's okay to tell a little-bit-at-a-time
If talking about the incident is difficult for you, writing or drawing may be helpful
If you choose to tell the police, you should tell them everything you can remember, even if some parts may be embarrassing like drinking, taking drugs or breaking family rules



WHEN TO TELL
The decision to tell someone becomes easier . . .


When you feel ready to talk about it
When you are strong enough to talk about it
When you find the right person to talk to
When you feel safe and supported


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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 17, 2006 3:44 pm

Feelings

After a person has been sexually assaulted, it's normal to experience a range of feelings and reactions. There is no right way or wrong way to feel or react. Everyone copes in his or her own way. Some people have very strong reactions after being sexually assaulted, others are calm. Some feelings and reactions might be experienced directly after the assault while other feelings and reactions can occur days or sometimes weeks later. These feelings and reactions have the ability to interfere with how you cope.

Understanding that these feelings are normal and experienced by others who have been sexually assaulted may make the feelings and reactions less frightening. Some of the normal feelings and reactions that you may experience any time following a sexual assault are:


Anger
Sadness
Fear
Shame
Guilt – You may feel that what happened to you is your fault.
Loneliness – Not interested in spending time with friends or family.
Confusion
Betrayal
Grief
Helplessness
Changes in your appetite
Changes in your sleeping patterns
Nightmares
Changes in your sex drive
Not being able to concentrate
Unable to stop thinking about the sexual assault
A belief that no one understands what you are going through
A lack of self confidence



Caring for Yourself After a Sexual Assault

Eat healthy food and get exercise to help keep up your strength.

Try to keep doing the things that you have always enjoyed.

Don’t look for easy answers to explain what happened.

Know your rights and know how to get the help you need.

Say positive things to yourself to restore your sense of well-being, like "I am strong!" "I did not deserve this." "I am taking back my personal power." "I am healing each and every day."

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to recover from a sexual assault.

Believe in yourself and know that you will get through this.


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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 17, 2006 3:44 pm

How Will My Family and Friends React

You are struggling with your feelings and reactions after being sexually assaulted. Your family and friends will also struggle with many feelings of their own. They may need some help as well.


You may have mixed feelings about telling your friends and family. You may also be extremely sensitive to the way they respond to you.
At a time when you need to talk about your feelings, others may have difficulty listening.
When you need to make your own decisions, others may want to make decisions for you.
You get the curfew, even though your parents say you did nothing wrong.
When you want to be comforted, others pressure you for more physical intimacy.
When you want to spend quiet time, others want you to talk about what happened.
When you are ready to talk, others avoid you because they don’t know what to say or do.
No one seems to understand what to do or what you need. Family and friends may become overprotective as they try to cope with their own feelings of fear, powerlessness, and helplessness. Parents often feel they should have been there to protect you or somehow prevented the assault.


A spouse or partner may avoid closeness with you, or may feel that immediate intimacy will erase the trauma of the assault.


It’s up to you to decide how much you want to tell and to whom. It is also very important for you to have a support system. Family and friends are often your support.


Understanding the feelings of your family or friends, doesn’t mean you have to take responsibility for their feelings. You need to be dealing with your own. Talking about feelings openly, or with the support of a counsellor can help.


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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 17, 2006 3:45 pm

What is "sexual assault"? Is it like rape?

hat do people mean when they talk about rape? "Rape" generally refers to intercourse or sexual penetration that has been forced on a person. Rape, however, is not a term found in Canadian law. In the <a href='http://java script: launchWin('/servlet/ContentServer?cid=1048765765120&pagename=CHN-RCS/StaticContent/StaticContentBodyTemplateEn&c=StaticContent&lang=En','demo','500','400');' target='_blank'>Criminal Code</a>, rape has been replaced by the term "sexual assault". Sexual assault basically refers to any form of unwanted contact between individuals that is of a sexual nature. "Force", therefore, matters less than consent does.

Sexual assault can take place between intimates, dating partners, friends, acquaintances or strangers.

In fact, rapes committed by acquaintances of the victim are the most common forms of sexual assault, closely followed by sexual assaults by dating or other relationship partners (Klymchuk et al., 2000).


"Date rape" drugs

People who are known to a potential victim pose the greatest risk of sexually assaulting them. Parties and other social gatherings where drinking and/or drug use occur are settings in which many people like to shed their inhibitions. Alcohol, for example, has long been known as a "social lubricant" as many people feel more relaxed and socially adept when drinking. Today, however, new and serious threats are posed by "date rape drugs", which do far more than "loosen us up". On private dates, in clubs and at raves, these drugs have been increasingly used in sexual attacks on impaired and vulnerable victims. For this reason, many are also referred to as "predator drugs". They include:
Rohypnol (brand name - drug name Flunitrazepam) is a tranquilizer similar to, but much more potent than, Valium. Rohypnol has the power to render someone unconscious, and cause memory loss, muscle relaxation and weakness. Effects can occur within half an hour of dosage, and last many hours. Some victims of rohypnol-facilitated sexual assault have woken up in completely different locations from where they remember being hours before, with no memory of what took place in the intervening hours of lost consciousness.
GHB, or Liquid Ecstasy, has been called "the love drug". GHB is popular at raves and concerts as it creates in the user a sense of tranquility, enhanced sensuality, and loss of inhibition. The drug's effects can be very long-lasting, and in large doses, lead to spontaneous deep sleep.
Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer, can cause hallucinations, dissociation, and memory loss.


7 steps to prevent a sexual assault

Trust your intuition. If you sense that a situation or person is dangerous, avoid the person or get out of the situation as soon as possible - safety is the most important issue.


Make sure that someone knows where you are at all times. Don't go off on your own, especially with new acquaintances or strangers.


Never leave a drink unattended or accept a drink or drugs from a stranger. Don't let substances impair your judgment or ability to act in your own best interest. Don't drink from punch bowls, or share drinks.


Know your own limits and state them very early on. Know that it is your perfect right to stop sexual activity at any time - if you're not feeling well, uncomfortable, afraid, or uncertain. Consent is given in the moment, and moments and minds can change.


Don't feel pressured to have sex in return for affection, gifts, dinner, or flowers. Guilt is no motivation to have sex, neither is wishing to be seen as a "nice girl" or "nice guy".


Be assertive. Take self-defense and assertiveness training courses. Learn how to project a confident physical and mental attitude. Remember, you are the only person in charge of your body.


Take extra steps to protect seniors, mentally and physically challenged people, children, and people who are mentally ill. People from these groups are more vulnerable and at greater risk across their lifetimes for sexual abuse and assault.




Other drugs that are perhaps better known may also be used to make people vulnerable to sexual assault:
Alcohol is a drug with sedating properties. Ingested in large amounts, alcohol can cause blood poisoning, brain and organic damage and even death
Hallucinogens (such as LSD, "magic" mushrooms)
Narcotics (these include prescription pain relievers)
"Aphrodisiacs", and
Sleeping pills or other prescription drugs
On their own, most of these drugs are powerful and can have negative side-effects. Some may have life-threatening consequences when taken even in small doses. When taken in combination with alcohol, even the most common of these drugs can produce unpredictable and dangerous - even deadly - results. Any substance that has the power to undermine a person's awareness, judgment and functioning can be used to facilitate sexual assault. Therefore, it's crucial to be very aware of what you are consuming, and what to do should you encounter any of these substances.


What to do if you suspect you have been drugged and sexually assaulted:

Move to a safe place, and if you are able, tell someone you trust immediately. Ask them to help you get medical attention or arrange on your own to get medical help, OR call the police or a rape support organization as soon as possible to report what has happened. They will advise you as to what you can do next.
If you can, take a sample of your drink or food with you to the medical facility to be tested. There, you can ask to be screened for drugs and examined for evidence of sexual assault. Following suspected assault or drugging, it's recommended you do not take anything that is not prescribed, or shower or bathe. Doing so may remove or degrade any evidence of the assault.
People who have been assaulted often feel ashamed, shocked, helpless and confused. They frequently incorrectly blame themselves. The experience can paralyze people, and cause them to keep what happened to themselves. It's important to share your experience with a sensitive and trained person who can help, and to consider reporting the crime to the police. You may not have been the only victim, and your report may help to prevent a future assault on someone else.

Sexual assaults occur much more frequently than we know. Unfortunately, under-reporting of these crimes presents a formidable obstacle to understanding the ature and extent of this problem. For example, researchers at Statistics Canada (2001) estimate that fewer than 10% of sexual assaults of people over 15 years of age are reported to Canadian police agencies, and only 1% of all date/acquaintance rapes ever come to the attention of law enforcement.


For more information or assistance:

To locate services near you, consult your community telephone directory. Normally, emergency contact numbers are provided in the first few pages. Some of these numbers may refer to the following services. Alternatively, you can search your yellow pages directory under these headings:

sexual assault or rape relief centres
women's and men's centres
crisis or help lines
victim serving organizations - often reached through police or provincial Attorney General offices
sexual abuse counseling centres
gay/lesbian/trans-gendered support organizations
physicians, health units or hospitals
mental health workers, such as counselors, psychologists, psychiatric nurses

In Canada, it's estimated that one out of every four women, and one out of 10 men over the age of 18, will be sexually assaulted sometime during their lives (Statistics Canada, 2001).

The Violence Against Women Study, conducted by Statistics Canada in 1993, revealed that 1/3 of all women polled had experienced sexual assault, and that ¼ of all women reported being ever sexually assaulted by a spouse or partner. This finding suggests that for the sampled women, sexual assault by a partner was even more likely to occur in their relationships than was physical assault or abuse.


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