Living in a rape prone culture affects all of us. Being surrounded by sexual violence changes the way we see ourselves, our relationships, and our world. Some of these changes are obvious. For example, a survivor of sexual assault may struggle with issues related to trust and intimacy for years after an assault. Other changes are more subtle.
The fear of sexual violence itself, even if we’re not survivors, can be very powerful.
Many people, particularly women, experience a sense of having to use constant vigilance to prevent themselves from being assaulted.
This could mean altering plans to avoid traveling after dark, changing routes to keep distance from strangers on the street, checking behind oneself frequently, having a cell phone ready to dial for help, or avoiding taking taxis alone. All these types of behaviours take a lot of time and energy, and they take a cumulative toll.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to feel unsafe in our own communities and neighbourhoods? If instead of spending so much time worrying about being raped and looking over our shoulders, we were free to daydream, take the long way home, set off on an impulsive road trip, or do whatever the hell else we feel like doing?