Tag: #girlchild

Tag: #girlchild

Your Daughter Does Not Owe Anyone a Hug This Easter Holiday; Not Even Grandpa!

Easter holiday is around the corner and it is an exciting time for family get-togethers, yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love.

PGIO Lynden Church Picnic

 

 

Have you ever found yourself telling your child, “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,” This means that you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own and that is why you urged them to do this.

If you have said this to your child before, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.

Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.

“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts Organization- developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older.

Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”

Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection.

Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbors, and that’s lovely—but if your daughter is reticent, consider letting her choose what to do.

Of course, this doesn’t give her license to be rude!

There are many other ways to show appreciation, thankfulness, and love that don’t require physical contact.

 

RELATED CONTENT: 6 Tips on How To Nurture a Child’s Mental Health.

 

Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself, and it’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her.

Is it ok to hug a kid that doesn’t want to be hugged? No, it isn’t.

I know you might get offended by the sheer suggestion that kids should have a say in whether they want to be hugged or not. What you might not know is that a small act of respecting a kid’s wishes can go a long way in shaping their understanding of consent, enables them to respect their own body and emboldens them to say no.

It remains irrelevant if the hug or, for that matter, any other form of expression of affection, is non-sexual. It also doesn’t even have to be an exchange between an adult and a child.

Parents can teach their kids about boundaries and consent when it comes to expressing affection or even physical contact.

In a largely patriarchal world, it would go a long way in teaching boys, early on in their lives, that they are not entitled to any affection from any gender.

A loved one expecting a hug from a child creates the impression that they owe it to them. A majority of the abusive relationships stem from an imbalance of power where one person is made to feel like they owe affection to their partner.

Some of you might wave away this concern and accuse us of blowing an innocent family interaction out of proportion. But I think this has long been a (very controversial) topic in parenting circles.

After CNN’s Katia Hetter wrote an article advocating for such a practice in 2015, readers responded with various opinions. Some shared difficult stories from their childhood that they carried with them well into their adult years. For Example:

“I raised my children this way over 20 years ago. Why did we do this? Because I had been a victim of sexual abuse by a family ‘friend’ for many years as a child. I did not want my children to think they had to hug or touch others unless the contact was wanted,” one reader wrote.

Others didn’t understand the big deal and argued that family obligation sometimes means doing uncomfortable things.

“You’re damn right you’re going to hug the woman who gave your mother/father life so you could have life,” another reader wrote.

That said, think about it the next time you want to urge your child to hug or kiss anyone.

I know sometimes as parents we do things to our children without even realizing it, but it is time to do better and not let our sons and daughter get the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.

Enjoy Your Easter Holidays!!!

INCASE YOU MISSED IT:

Top 7 Things You Need To Teach Your Child About Sex and Consent.

An Incredible Story of Child Marriage

Catcalling is Not A Compliment, Its Harassment

 

Catcalling is not a Compliment, It’s Harassment!!

When I go to the shop every morning, our gate man and his friends will not let a lady pass by the gate without uttering words like “mrembo leo hunisalimii?”- “Beautiful come and say hi”. You can imagine how you look in the morning – baggy t-shirt or hoodie, sweatpants or tights, and they still catcall us which is very irritating. Most of the times I just pass by without saying anything or when am in a good mood I just wave and move along.

I am sure millions of women and girls around the world will have heard phrases like that. “Hey Sexy!” “Hey Beautiful!” “Ouh your body this or that!” or something like it. Some might say that it’s harmless, just a joke, or perhaps even a compliment.

But to be honest catcalling is none of those things. It’s an explicit demonstration of power, one that is intended to frighten or intimidate the person it’s addressed to. It is based in deep-rooted gender inequality, which sees women’s bodies as not their own.

 

In my opinion, in the context of gender, harassment often ends up being a way for men to exert control over women and their bodies. Shouting a crude comment about a woman’s appearance suggests entitlement to her body. Groping or stalking or simply standing too close without a woman’s permission shows entitlement to her space. Expecting a woman to talk to you while or after you harass her displays entitlement to her time. Do You Agree?

 

What is Catcalling?

Catcalling is when an individual whistles, shouts, or makes sexual comments toward another individual as they are walking by. Women are often the ones faced with having to deal with this ridiculous issue. The fact that I get a little nervous when I decide to get dressed up because I don’t feel like getting harassed, is a problem. You shouldn’t have to feel self-conscious or nervous every time you get dressed to head out the door or every time you pass by men on the street.

What is Street Harassment?

Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of violence against women and girls. It’s a type of sexual harassment and includes catcalling, unwanted comments, gestures, honking and uninvited sexual advances from strangers in a public place.

When you face harassment as part of your daily life, whether it’s while going for a run or getting the bus to see friends, what does that do? It holds you back right?

You are compelled to change your clothes, or routes to work just to try to avoid it. It can even  prevent you from working, from socialising, from learning, and from living with freedom and dignity.

This is not acceptable. No woman or girl should feel afraid in the streets of her own city.

Did you Know Poverty makes girls more vulnerable to harassment??

We help and interact with many women and girls in the rural areas we operate and they have stories to tell about street harassment. One would think thank living in the rural areas is a bit safer than urban areas but we were wrong.

Women and girls living in poverty are even more vulnerable to this sort of street harassment. For example, Rose Wanjiru attends a local school in Kangai village, Kenya. She is only 12 years old, but she and her friends are often harassed by men as they walk to and from school. Rose says:

“On my way home, we often get catcalls from the farm workers and boda boda [motorcycle taxi] riders. My biggest wish is that we get an education, the men should leave us alone.”

 

RELATED CONTENT: See How we are Raising Funds to help our Beneficiaries like Rose to stay in school.

How Protect a Girls Image is helping girls who are experiencing street harassment.

Jackline Wamwitha, Our eldest girl belongs to the Protect a Girls Image-supported girls’ club at her school. The club is a safe spacewhere the girls learn about their rights and gain the confidence to report harassment and abuse. Jackline looks out for other girls at school. She says: “I tell my friends: don’t pay attention to those men.”

In addition to girls’ clubs, Protect a Girls Image is working with women’s groups and training government officials, police, health workers and legal advisers in Kenya on how to best to tackle violence against women and girls.

By working closely with local commuities, PGIO is tackling gender-based street harassment at its root, by challenging the behaviours and gender inequalities that cause it.

 

READ MORE: Our Visit to Kangai Sunday School  Support Club. – Talks on Menstruation, Sex, Consent and Safety.

 

How Should You Deal with Street Harassment?

 Ignore It

Sometimes, no response is the best response (especially if you’re concerned about escalating the situation). Some harassers might enjoy any sort of attention, so ignoring the foolishness is the best bet. Hopefully, they will eventually get a clue and stop catcalling completely.

 Respond

If you’re a quick thinker with a strong voice, then responding may be a good choice. If you feel safe enough to do so, assertively respond to the harassers calmly, firmly and without insults or personal attacks to let them know that their actions are unwelcome, unacceptable and wrong. It’s one way to turn the situation around.

Show Compassion

Sometimes kindness is the most unexpected, confusing, and wonderful response of all. So if some guy is saying garbage about your appearance, you can respond with quiet sympathy. “You must be in a bad place to comment on stranger’s bodies like that. I hope life gets better for you.” You can say, with full sincerity. Then sashay away!

Report to Employer

If you are being harassed at work you can air your views and let Human Resources know that their employees are harassing people on the job and why that is unacceptable. I know you might be thinking “what will my colleagues think and what if I lose my job” If we don’t start standing up for ourselves now then when?

Step In

If you see a lady being harassed, please help them out of the situation and let the harasser know that their actions are not condoned by others. Ask her if she wants help and what she’d like you to do or simply check in to see if she is OK. Majority of street harassers look to other men for approval so they might gang up on you.

 

What will you Do to Help Girls facing Street Harassment??

If you Donate to Protect A Girls’ Image Education Funding>>>HERE, you can help us support more Girls in School, so that they can be educated on preventing and responding to harassment and violence. Here’s what your money could do:

  • $80  could help educate girls and ensure they are aware of their rights
  • $5 could help girls carry their books to school.
  • $10 could help get a Dozen of Books for each girl, to write down everything  they learn.
  • $3 could help buy a Dozen of Pens for them to write with.

 

SUMMARY

The most common defense that men have against this issue is that catcalls are their way of “complimenting” a woman’s looks. Going up to a woman and telling her she’s beautiful is one thing, but shouting “damn!” “hey sexy!” or whistling and honking the car horn as a woman walks by is a different story.

Catcalling can even get to the point of being dangerous if women decide defend themselves or ignore the cat-callers, because often they will get offended causing them to act in an aggressive or intimidating manner by name calling or going as far as assaulting women. It’s important that you assess your situation and ensure your safety before responding.

What men need to understand is that catcalling is not cute, funny, or complimenting. It’s harassment, degrading, and disgusting. It lets women know they are being objectified and looked at as nothing more than a piece of meat. It makes women feel as though they have no rights or values. Women are not dogs to be whistled at and they are not sexual objects. Women are more than their looks. Women have the right to be treated with as much respect and dignity when walking down the street as any man. Women deserve to feel safe!!

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Skills that Dad’s should teach their 13year Old Daughters in 2020.

 

Ten Ways to Teach Your Children about Consent at Every Age.

It’s not an easy thing to talk with your kids about sex. We live in a culture soaked in sexuality where selling everything from cars to toys to clothing to the food we eat. You as a Parent have talked to your girls about losing virginity, boys and masturbation. But how many times have you properly educated your boys about how to identify and ask for consent??

 

Our society is plagued by a worsening epidemic of sexual violence, and as a mother and a survivor of sexual assault, I feel compelled to do whatever I can to change that.

It’s practically impossible to scroll through social media or watch the news without seeing some report of sexual assault, but the focus of these stories is the emphasis often placed on what girls should to do protect themselves: they should avoid wearing provocative clothing, they should never walk alone at night; they should take self-defense classes, and never get drunk at a party.

There is little mention of what should be done to stop our boys from growing into men who are capable of committing these heinous acts in the first place. I think we believe that if we teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, assuming that it goes without saying that sexual assault is the latter then we’ve done our job.

You might be thinking, Why is she favoring the Girl child? Honestly, I am not. The reality is both boys and girls should be educated.

By the time you hit them with the talk, children of all ages have already gotten a bunch of messages about sex, relationships, and consent from somewhere else. From cartoons to fairy tales, school mates,  pop songs, siblings to the kid next door… by the time your child can comprehend these stories, they’ve already internalized some concepts.

So as a parent, it’s your job to translate, explain, debunk, and convey these messages.

The most important thing you can teach both boys and girls is sexual consent. So what it is? How can you give it and how do you ask for it? Most importantly, why it is so important for healthy relationships?

I am going to give an overview of what consent lessons can look like for most families.

 

Would You Like to Help Keep just One of these Children in School? We are Raising School Fees for Our Beneficiaries through this Fund. One Dollar will Go A Long way!! Thank You!!

 

1. Teach the correct vocabulary early.

Consent education should start as soon as kids can understand the foundation concepts behind it. So where do you start? Giving your child the correct, scientific vocabulary to describe their body parts, including words like:

  • vulva
  • vagina
  • penis
  • testicles
  • anus

There are two major reasons to stay away from code words and slang. First and foremost, correct labels break down stigma and create a person who is sex positive and not embarrassed to talk about their bodies with their parents — not to mention a future teen who isn’t afraid to openly and clearly communicate with their romantic partner.

When we use coded language with little kids, it sounds like something we keep secret and don’t talk about, and that’s not the message we want to send.

2. Teach bodily autonomy and independence.

The next step when they are still at a young age is to teach them bodily autonomy. It is teaching that they have total control over what happens to their body.

Respect your kids’ wishes when it comes to hugging, kissing, cuddling, and tickling. The big example here is that they aren’t “forced” to hug and kiss anyone, even grandma. Children should get to choose their level of contact based on their level of comfort. Learn to respect their NO! “Okay, why should I do that? I am the adult here”. Point is, they should clearly understand and expect that when someone says “no” to bodily contact, that request should be immediately respected.

In addition to letting your child know that they get to choose when someone touches them, you should also begin teaching them that consent goes both ways. You can start by teaching them to ask their friends if they like to be hugged before going in for an embrace.

3. Talk about consent with friends and family.

A vital part of teaching bodily autonomy at this age is also educating your friends and family about boundaries, too. This way Grandma doesn’t get offended when she doesn’t get a kiss. She should know that it’s not a requirement that her grandchildren hug and kiss her or sit on her lap and you can teach her that she can offer alternatives.

When you teach your kid bodily autonomy, you’re not only teaching them to say no, you’re teaching them lots of consent-related skills. Like saying, ‘Can I high five you instead?’ when a hug isn’t wanted.

You’re mirroring what it looks like to be refused. If your child refuses a hug, you can say, ‘I know you still love me even if you don’t want to hug me.’ That statement shows that physical touch isn’t bad or wrong in this relationship, just that in this moment, you don’t want physical touch.”

4. Build stronger, healthier boundaries.

As your children grow older, your lessons about consent and autonomy can increase in complexity.

This is a good time to discuss concepts like coercion, when someone persuades you to consent to something against your original will. You can also discuss how to set healthy boundaries with people, and what they should do if those boundaries are violated.

5. Introduce concepts of sexism and misogyny.

At this age range, it’s imperative to talk to your children in depth about sexism and gender bias. Why? Sexism and misogyny have a lot to do with consent and can lead to harmful myths and misconceptions about consent and relationships, such as:

  • Men should always want sex and are expected to push the boundaries of how far they can go with partners.
  • The woman is a “gatekeeper” responsible for pacing or stopping sexual acts.
  • Women should obey men.
  • It isn’t “manly” or romantic to ask before kissing a woman or making a move sexually.

There are gender roles that can cause sexual scripts that can be harmful to sexual intimacy. For example, when a male asks a female for sex, and the female is responsible for saying no. That’s based on a harmful stereotype that men are always horny and ready for sex. It seems complex but you would be surprised at how much a child in middle school will understand this so well.

6. Teach critical thinking skills.

This is also a time to help your children to become independent critical thinkers by using examples of media they consume. They’re going to get harmful messages even when you aren’t around, and they must have the skills to think critically about them.

If you see sexism in the world around you, such as in music, television, movies, or real-life situations, point it out and ask them what they think. Help them reach their own conclusions.

For example, In most movie scenes, verbal consent is absent, which is a problem within itself. If you’re watching a movie with a kissing scene with your pre-teen, you might ask, “How do you think he knew that she wanted him to kiss her?”

I know you mostly focus on telling your children what they should not do. But you should focus on teaching your child what they should do, but helping them understand why you have the values you have, how you came to a decision in your own life, and how they could come to decisions on their own

Please! Please! Avoid too much lecturing and instead try to have two-way conversations.

7. Know how to respond when your kids ask about sex.

This is also the age when children might start asking you questions about sex and sexuality that you may not be prepared to answer but they’re mature enough to understand.

Don’t be afraid to say that you can talk about it another time, like after dinner so that you can have time to mentally prepare. Also, be sure to leave the door open for more discussion and be sure to end the conversation with a supportive statement, like, “I appreciate that you came and talked to me about this.”

8. Continue with more complex issues surrounding sexual consent.

High schoolers and young adults are ready to learn concrete lessons about sexual consent and healthy sexual relationships in full detail. These may be some of the toughest lessons to teach for parents, but they’re the most vital pieces to help your kids understand consent and build healthy relationships.

One mistake parents make when discussing consent is that they have limited talks with their children and male children mostly get different talks than female children.

For example, males tend to get only enough information about consent to prevent illegal actions related to rape and assault, while women may only get enough information to prevent their own rape and assault.

This form of “disaster prevention” sex education may indeed prevent some legal issues, but it doesn’t help break down our foundation cultural issues about consent or lend toward building enjoyable, equitable relationships. Please be sure to discuss the following issues:

  • Can a person who’s incapacitated by drugs or alcohol consent to sex?
  • Do you have to consent to sex after the first time you have intercourse?
  • Do power differentials affect your ability to consent?
  • What does safe sex have to do with consent?
  • Be certain to cover the difference between verbal and non-verbal consent.

Teach them to know what verbal consent sounds like, as well as how you can ask. They should also know what nonverbal consent looks like. They should understand if that their partner is very quiet, or lying still, that that isn’t the enthusiastic consent they’re looking for, and it’s time to communicate before they keep going.

LESSON: While teens might be learning about issues like birth control, rape, and sexually transmitted infections, they’re lacking knowledge that they both need and crave regarding consent and healthy relationships. This additional knowledge is key to preventing sexual assault and sexual violence.

9.  Converse about pornography.

You are probably cringing from the word Pornography. Our teenagers are mostly on their phones right? You can’t ignore that your teen is very likely exploring pornography in some form.

Without a proper education from parents about what pornography is, how it functions, and its issues, kids can take away misguided messages about sex, relationships, and intimacy. At worse, these beliefs can become harmful to others.

Pornography is not a very realistic portrayal of sex. A lot of porn doesn’t portray women well, and there are a lot of mixed messages about consent. For example, teen girls may compare themselves to the women in porn and feel inferior while boys may fear that they won’t be able to sexually perform like the men in porn

10. Talk about what a healthy sexual relationship looks like.

70 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds wished that they’d received more information from their parents, about the emotional and romantic aspects of relationships, including how to:

  • Have a more mature relationship.
  • Deal with breakups.
  • Avoid getting hurt in a relationship.
  • Begin a relationship.

All of these issues are tied in many ways to understanding consent.

Again, start discussions with your children while consuming media or after you see a good or poor example of a healthy relationship. Ask them how they feel and what they think, and get them to think critically about what it means to be a caring romantic partner and what it means to be cared for.

Remember, I am not giving all this information just so you can avoid assault. It is about creating healthy people who have the tools and skills to have healthy and happy romantic relationships.

Teaching consent is an ongoing conversation

Teaching our kids about consent might seem awkward at first, not only because it involves the subject of sex, but also because the majority of today’s adults didn’t get consent education as kids. However, one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting is our ability to break harmful cycles, create new standards, and improve life for our kids and the next generation.

Even if you have older children and missed out on earlier lessons, it’s never too late to start teaching your kids about the importance of sexual consent.

In this digital age, with the Internet at their fingertips, all the parental controls in the world won’t keep our children from seeking out the answers to any questions they might have about their bodies and sex. It’s natural for them to be curious, but if you start an open conversation with them at a young age, if they know you won’t scold them or tell them that they are too young to think about “those” kinds of things, they will be more likely to come to you for information rather than other sources.

I hope this article will be a good guide in helping you talk about sex with your children. Feel free to ask any questions or give Feedback. We Love It!

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Myths About Sexual Assault.

 

Why don’t Victims of Sexual Assault come forward sooner?

 

WHY DON’T VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT COME FORWARD SOONER?

 

Reasons why sexual assault survivors don't come forward sooner.

Sexual assault survivors don’t come forward sooner due to shame, guilt, denial, and fear of the consequences that might follow them.

It is very common for victims of sexual assault to not disclose their trauma as soon as it happens that is if they ever do. But since everybody in the world is continually confused by why women don’t come forward, I offer some information based on the psychology of abuse to help answer this question.

To make sure we are all in the same page, when I talk about Sexual harassment and behaviors, I include cat calling, inappropriate touching, invasion of privacy, sexual jokes, sexual bribery, and coercion just to mention a few.

Below I have listed the most significant reasons why women do not come forward more often or delay in coming forward.

  • Shame

One of the primary reasons women don’t come forward to report sexual harassment or assault is shame. Sexual abuse, by its very nature, is humiliating and dehumanizing. The victim feels invaded and defiled, while simultaneously feeling the indignity of being helpless and at the mercy of another person.

Shame is a feeling deep within us of being exposed and unworthy. When we feel ashamed, we want to hide. We hang our heads, stoop our shoulders, and curve inward as if trying to make ourselves invisible. Most people who have been deeply shamed take on the underlying and pervasive belief that they are broken, unworthy and unlovable.

Victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault in adulthood or sexual abuse in childhood tend to feel shame, because as human beings, we want to believe that we have control over what happens to us. When that personal power is challenged by a victimization of any kind, we feel humiliated. We believe we should have been able to defend ourselves. And because we weren’t able to do so, we feel helpless and powerless. This powerlessness causes humiliation  which leads to shame.

  • Denial, Minimization

Many women refuse to believe that the treatment they endured was actually abusive. They downplay how much they have been harmed by sexual harassment and even sexual assault. They convince themselves that “it wasn’t a big deal.” I know a lot of women who were brutally raped, and I have friends who were sexually abused in childhood. So when a scenario of a girl being sexually harassed by her boss arose, she said that it was nothing compared to what these women went through. She tells herself to just move on and forget the whole thing.

Other women are good at making excuses for their abusers. I have often heard victims of sexual harassment say things like “I felt sorry for him,” or “I figured he wasn’t getting enough sex at home,” or even “I knew he couldn’t help himself.”

And finally, women convince themselves that they are the only victim of a sexual harasser or abuser. It is often only after other women step forward to say that they were abused by a perpetrator that a victim may realize that they are dealing with a serial abuser.

  • Fear of the Consequences

Fear of the repercussions is a huge obstacle women face when it comes to reporting sexual harassment or assault. The fear of losing their job, fear they won’t find another job, fear they will be failed in school, fear of being blamed, fear of being branded a victim, fear of being blackballed by people, fear of their physical safety. This is so true.

Many don’t disclose, because they fear they won’t be believed, and until very recently, that has primarily been the case. The fact that sexual misconduct is the most under-reported crime is due to a common belief that women make up these stories for attention or to get back at a man who rejected them. Victims’ accounts are often scrutinized to the point of exhaustion. Victims are often labeled opportunists, blamed for their own victimization, and punished for coming forward.

  • Low Self-Esteem

Some victims have such low self-esteem that they don’t consider what happened to them to be very serious. They don’t value or respect their own bodies or their own integrity, so if someone violates them, they downplay it. Sexual violations wound a woman’s self-esteem, self-concept, and sense of self. The more a girl or woman puts up with, the more her self-image becomes distorted. Little by little, acts of disrespect, objectification, and shaming whittle away at her self-esteem until she has little regard for herself and her feelings. There is a huge price to pay for “going along” with sexual exploitation. A woman doesn’t just give away her body; she gives away her integrity.

Even the most confident girl cannot sustain her sense of confidence if she is sexually violated. She feels so much shame that it is difficult to hold her head up high. She finds it difficult to have the motivation to continue on her path, whether it be college or a career.

  • Feelings of Hopelessness and Helplessness

Research has shown us that victims who cannot see a way out of an abusive situation soon develop a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, and this in turn contributes to them giving up and not trying to escape or seek help. Specifically, learned helplessness is a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed and considered to be one of the underlying causes of depression. A concept originally developed by the research of psychologist and Steven D. Meier, learned helplessness is a phenomenon that says when people feel like they have no control over what happens, they tend to simply give up and accept their fate.

Women feel it is useless to come forward, because they have seen the way others have been treated. They feel it is hopeless, because they won’t be believed, and their reputations will be tainted, if not ruined. Women who have already been sexually assaulted or harassed feel especially helpless, since the chances are extremely high that they did not receive the justice they so desperately needed. These fears can cause women to think there is nowhere to turn, to feel trapped and even hopeless.

  • A History of Being Sexually Violated

Women who have already been traumatized by child sexual abuse or by sexual assault as an adult are far less likely to speak out about sexual harassment at work or at school. Research shows that survivors of previous abuse and assault are at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted again. For example, research shows that 38 percent of college-aged women who have been sexually violated had first been victimized prior to college.

Those who experienced previous abuse will likely respond to overtures of sexual harassment much differently than women who have not been abused. A friend shared with me that she freezes every time a guy makes a sexual advance towards her hoping he will just walk away. This “freezing reaction” is a common one for those who were sexually abused in childhood. And as was mentioned above, those who have previously been victimized are more likely to keep quiet about the abuse, since they may have already had the experience of not being believed and not receiving justice.

  • Disbelief, Dissociated, or Drugged

Finally, sometimes women don’t report sexual harassment or assault, because at the time of the abuse they were drugged, inebriated, or dissociated. Others may have been so drunk before the assault that they doubt their memories, and as we know, some are so traumatized that they dissociated during the attack and have only vague memories. It usually takes one woman coming forward before a woman is able to trust her own memories of the experience. Unless other women come forward to make a complaint about someone, most will continue doubting themselves and assuming they will be doubted if they report.

It is understandable that women have a difficult time coming forward for a number of reasons. These women deserve our recognition about how difficult it is and our compassion for what they have been through. Women need to be encouraged to begin to push away their internalized shame with anger and to learn how to give the shame back to their abusers.

Instead of focusing so much energy on trying to figure out why victims don’t report, it would be far more productive to ask, “Why do we allow men to continue to sexually harass and assault women?” Perhaps even more important, we need to stop asking why victims wait to report and instead focus on how we can better support victims in their quest for justice and healing.