Tomorrow, Wednesday 4/23, is Denim Day—an important chance each year to show support for survivors and to raise awareness about sexual assault misconceptions!
Why Denim? Sixteen years ago in Italy, a teenage girl was raped by her driving instructor, who threatened to harm both her and her family. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to jail, but he appealed and the supreme court overturned the original ruling—stating that because the victim wore very tight jeans she must have had to help remove them, thereby giving consent to have sex. Since then the young woman’s jeans have become a symbol of the many misconceptions still surrounding sexual violence, such as what someone wears can be an excuse.
Wear your favorite jeans or chambray shirt, and show your support!
This animated short “We Need to Talk” lets us peer into the inner thoughts of two people making an important decision. As their anxieties and worries threaten to create more confusion and distance, the couple expresses their right to say what they need to say. They discover that practicing communication brings them face to face with each other instead of their fears.
This is the final episode in the collaboration between the Peer Advocates of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles + imMEDIAte Justice Productions. Check out past episodes here: http://www.youtube.com/user/PlannedParenthoodLA
We love a good stop motion video—especially when it’s about healthy communication about boundaries! What a great example of how important it is to be able to express your concerns in a relationship!
Some things are beyond our control. One aspect of your life that you deserve to have complete control over is how far you want to take it with your romantic partner — whether that’s your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or anyone you’re involved with. You should never feel forced into anything that you’re not comfortable with or don’t feel like doing.
Have you ever felt pressured by your partner to have sex? Have you ever felt guilted into it, or felt like you weren’t able to say no? This is often referred to as sexual coercion, which lies on the continuum of sexually aggressive behavior. It can vary from being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, your partner:
- Makes you feel like you owe them: ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
- Gives you compliments that sound extreme or insincere as an attempt to get you to agree to something
- Gives you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
- Plays on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,” “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
- Reacts negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
- Continues to pressure you after you say no
- Makes you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
- Tries to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion in itself. Dating someone, being in a relationship, or being married never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.
A coercive partner may feel that consent is ongoing. However, consenting to something once doesn’t make it a “given” each time. Consenting to one action doesn’t mean you have given your consent for other actions. In a relationship where sexual coercion is occurring, there is a lack of consent, and the coercive partner doesn’t respect the boundaries or wishes of the other.
To learn more about sexual coercion, an important read is our article on healthy consent, or check out The Consensual Project. No one should be made to feel pressured into a sexual act. If your partner acts in any of the ways mentioned, it could be helpful to speak to someone about it. Our advocates at loveisrespect.org and thehotline.org are available to talk confidentially — give us a call or chat online.
This season of Teen Mom 2 has been especially dramatic (let’s not kid ourselves, Teen Mom is always dramatic). Our advocates have been watching along on #TeenMomTuesdays and talking about the healthy and not-so-healthy behaviors we’ve been seeing so far. Since the first episodes of Teen Mom 2, things have seemed to constantly change for Kailyn, Jenelle, Chelsea and Leah. Let’s discuss some of the stuff we’ve noticed:
- Dating Abuse: Kailyn was physically abusive to her now husband Javi in an earlier season of TM2. There was a big fight where we saw her react violently, which is never an acceptable way to behave. During the check-up with Dr. Drew after this season’s finale, he asked Kailyn if anything like that happened since. Kail was hesitant to disclose that they had been fighting at the hotel just the night before, among a few other times where she abused him. We can see from the way she avoids the questions that it was hard for her to admit she is abusive and that she doesn’t like to talk about it. However, we know that the first step to changing abusive behaviors is to take responsibility for the actions and acknowledge that they are abusive. If you feel like you might be abusive, having a support system around to hold you accountable is a crucial part of changing. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later because, as we know, abuse tends to escalate over time. If your partner is the abusive one, here is a quiz you can take when/if they are in the process of changing. As always, loveisrespect advocates are happy to talk to each partner individually about it.
- Communication: This season, we saw a big disagreement between Leah and Jeremy when we learned that he was going to New Mexico for work. Leah didn’t like him being away from home and brought up an agreement that they made prior to getting married: that Jeremy wouldn’t travel a certain distance away from home for work. Leah seemed to feel like she wasn’t being heard by him, since he turned down a job that was closer to home. However, Jeremy argues that he was taking the job that would make more money for his family. Communication is a big part of a healthy relationship and should be open, honest and fair. Partners should be able to hear each other out, respect each other’s feelings and hopefully be able to compromise.
- Boundaries: Leah crossed some important boundaries by checking Jeremy’s phone to find out about his job situation. It was a violation of his privacy and it shows a lack of trust and communication in the relationship. When Jenelle got out of jail for failing her drug test, we saw her raising her voice in an argument with her partner Nathan when she found out he had been complaining about Jenelle to another girl (who happened to be Jenelle’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend). We don’t know exactly what the conversation between Nathan and the girl was about, but we heard some unhealthy things when they yelled at each other about Nathan “talking to other girls” or Jenelle “talking to other guys.” We know that in a healthy relationship, restrictions like that are not only unrealistic but also very controlling and isolating, as a lot of people could end up losing good friends if they tried to live up to that. This post has some good ideas on how to set boundaries in a relationship.
- Pregnancy: During this season of Teen Mom 2, we saw Jenelle and Nathan decide to have a baby after a couple months of dating. We encourage people in relationships talk about possible outcomes and responsibilities of having a child before deciding to have one, if the situation allows for a conversation like that to happen. If you feel like your partner is putting pressure on you to get pregnant, to stop taking birth control, telling you what type of birth control method to use, or makes you feel like you have to get (or not get) an abortion when you don’t want to; that could be a red flag for a form of sexual abuse called reproductive coercion.
Feel free to chat with a loveisrespect advocate if you feel like there are any of these things going on in YOUR relationship, or if something just doesn’t feel right. We are here 24/7 for you to call, chat or text us.
When Your Partner Threatens Suicide - “I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”
It seems like a no-win situation. When someone you’re close to says something like this, it can feel like the world just stopped spinning. People with depression, a history of substance abuse, and other mental health conditions typically have a higher risk for suicide. If your partner truly wishes to die and has a plan and intention to follow through, get immediate help. Call your local emergency number, or call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
But what if your boyfriend or girlfriend regularly threatens suicide, particularly whenever you’re not doing something he or she wants you to do? First, understand that this is a form of emotional abuse: your partner is trying to manipulate you by playing on your feelings of love and fear for them. You might get angry when this happens, but you also might feel stuck giving in to them in order to avoid a potential tragedy. When your partner makes these threats repeatedly, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and possibly help your partner as well:
- Tell your partner you care about them, but stick to your boundaries.
- Put the choice to live or die where it belongs - on your partner.
- Remember that no matter what your partner says, you don’t have to prove anything.
To learn more details about these steps, visit the loveisrespect blog.
[Photoset of Sailor Moon winking. Texts read: Made a phone call, Ordered the food you really wanted, Asked a question in class, Cooked yourself a good meal, Got out of bed today, Calmed yourself down from a panic attack, Didn’t overwork yourself, Practiced self-care.]
Sometimes we get so focused on the big things that it’s easy to forget our small accomplishments, so I made the Sailor Moon Award! Celebrate the little accomplishments you make throughout the day, you deserve it!
Feel free to print these out and use them if you want, or make your own!
Self-care memes FTW!
No matter how big or how small—actions to take care of yourself mean a lot! You’re worth it!
I have been with my girlfriend for over a year, and I know I can tell her anything and I love her more than the whole world. I want to tell her about my past abuse in previous relationships, I just don't know how
It’s wonderful that you feel you can tell your partner anything — trust and open communication are super important for a healthy relationship, and everyone deserves a supportive relationship where they feel safe talking honestly about their experiences, even really painful ones. Talking about past experiences with abuse can be really difficult no matter how much you trust someone, and it shows incredible courage that you want to be open about what you’ve been through.
It’s important to find the right time to start the conversation, and can even help to write out what you want to say beforehand so you feel clear about what want to share. It could be helpful to consider letting your partner know what things may be triggering or difficult for you, and what might be some specific ways your partner could support your healing as your relationship continues to grow. It’s also a good idea to talk about why specifically you want your partner to know about the abuse, like letting her know that you aren’t looking for advice or for her to retaliate on your partner in any way, but because sharing this part of your history with her is important to you and her understanding and support can help you continue to heal.
Also, if your abusive ex is continuing to harass or threaten you, this page has some really useful tips for protecting your safety. And you can always contact a peer advocate at loveisrespect to talk more about what’s going on.
- Loveisrespect Peer Advocate
There are a lot of reasons why someone might become a catfish. Some people might want revenge on a former boyfriend or girlfriend, some people might be lonely or bored and some people just want to cause trouble. However, one of the biggest reasons people catfish seems to be because they don’t feel confident in who they really are, so they pretend they’re someone else. Then, if they start falling for the person they’ve started an online relationship with, they’re scared to reveal themselves. If a catfish does “come clean” to the other person, this situation can create a lot of trust issues, since the relationship wasn’t built on total honesty.
What signs should you watch out for?
- If they’re “too good to be true.”
- They won’t Skype or use a webcam to talk with you, or they repeatedly cancel in-person meetings at the last minute.
- They have a profile that looks new or incomplete.
- They ask you to send them money!
- They profess their love for you really quickly.
- They give you information that doesn’t add up.
Still not sure? Here are some options at your disposal:
- Google the person’s name.
- Do a reverse Google image search for the person’s profile image.
- Send a message to the person’s Facebook friends or other contacts linked to their profile.
- Ask lots of questions - where they grew up, schools they went to, where they like to go on the weekends.
For even more details and suggestions, head over to loveisrespect.org to read the whole blog post!
also I bought this excellent looking little flipbook from snaughtie on etsy and I am putting it into my coping skills toolkit.
We love this! Communication can be really hard, especially when we’re talking about our feelings and needs, so this looks like a great tool!
On average, there are 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), during which activists from all over the nation seek to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate individuals and communities about how to end it. This effort requires many voices – including yours! There are several ways you can get involved, and here are just a few:
- The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s campaign this year focuses on healthy sexuality. On their site you can download a social media toolkit, learn how to become an agent of social change, and plan your own prevention campaign.
- Participate in #TweetAboutIt Tuesdays or #30DaysofSAAM throughout April with the NSVRC.
- Talk to your friends about sex, healthy relationships, and consent.
- Educate yourself about sexual abuse and sexual coercion.
- Learn more about how men can get involved via Men Can Stop Rape or Men Stopping Violence.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and you need someone to talk to, contact loveisrespect 24/7 at 1-866-331-9474 or chat online at loveisrespect.org. It’s free, anonymous, and confidential.