End Rape Culture Within a Generation: My Dream
In this first in an upcoming series, Emily shares her dream of an end to rape culture, and a subsequent end to rape, and why she does what she is doing.
My dream is to end rape culture within a generation, and so minimise the occurrence of rape to the status of rare.
Should be easy, right? I mean, rape is a choice, it’s not like we’re trying to cure cancer, or AIDS. It could actually end tomorrow, if people simply chose not to rape.
Of course, the response I normally get, when I share that dream is not one of "lol, that’s easy, dreams should be made of sterner stuff." Instead, I get a baffled look, like I’m possibly smoking something in that pipe dream of mine.
It is a dream. And it starts with everyone, all of you. In the coming weeks I’m going to be sharing a series of thoughts on how we can all work together to achieve this dream. It’s a dream that relies on the active participation of the many. It needs a grassroots movement of leadership by example, where we are all empowered to challenge, and call out, and not stand by. I’ll be sharing how we can do this, together.
Why me? What qualifies me to take on this mission? People often ask me, why do you do what you do? The question is an understandable one. I mean, it’s not the kind of career you dream of when you’re in school. And, it’s kind of counter-intuitive to have spent so long recovering from something, and then to willingly surround yourself with the very thing that used to keep you awake at night. And yet, for me, the answer is simple: I have to.
What qualifies me is my lived experience of rape, and recovery from rape. And now, because I’ve figured out how to recover and live a full and whole reconnected life, I spend my days helping other women who’ve been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted or abused, recover too. I help women let go of shame, of self-blame, of caring what others think, and I help them move from coping and living one day at a time, to living a full and reconnected life.
I’d love to not need to do this. I’d love to not have any clients, because there were no clients to be had. When rape culture is ended, when rape is rare, then I can switch careers again, maybe back to what I used to do (marketing strategy), or to something brand new.
No-one sets out the path to recovery for us. We have had to figure it out for ourselves. Some of us can go and get patched up but then, too soon usually, when we’re just about figuring out how to cope with our symptoms, we’re set loose alone again, tread-watering, trying to keep our head above water. Symptom-management is usually all that’s on offer. But life is made up of more than symptoms. Sometimes we’ll stumble upon something that will help us make sense of ourselves again, perhaps coaching. Other times we might bump into something that reminds us that we need to reconnect into our body, perhaps yoga. It is rare for these three elements to be found for all – and too often I’ve found that, for many, mostly it’s been only about symptom management that hasn’t quite managed to manage.
I’ve found the path. When (conservatively) one in six of my sisters needs the path too, I have to share what I know and help them forge their way forward to living their reconnected life.
On the way to ending rape culture, my other (smaller?) dream is that anyone who experiences rape will be able to live a full and reconnected life. That living one day at a time, surviving, but struggling, is a thing of the past. My dream is that a whole body, mind, community connection to healing becomes the norm.
When rape culture dies, so will rape. Rape is a choice, it is made by people who either know they are doing wrong and don’t want to get caught (so let’s make sure they know they’ll be caught), or by people who can’t admit to even themselves that they are doing wrong and convince themselves that what they are doing is normal (so let’s make sure they know it’s not).
So, watch out for the pieces In the coming weeks where I’ll be sharing with you how we can all help end rape culture, how each and every one of us can stand up and be counted and challenge it wherever and however it raises its head. Together, this dream can come true.