Not Your Princess: My Body Is Not Your Property

*Trigger warning! This article contains content regarding sexual rape and sexual assault. Read at your own discretion.*

 

I am a princess; but I am not your princess. I am a human, and I am not your property.

 

Every day, women around the world walk the streets in fear, always looking for the roads with brighter street lamps or busier traffic. We consistently look over our shoulders the moment we walk out our house doors. We walk in groups and go to the bathroom together to make sure nobody follows us. We are told to always be aware of our surroundings. If we are going somewhere by ourselves, we are supposed to tell a friend our route and outfit.

 

But it shouldn’t have to be like this.

 

Once every two minutes, a female in the United States is raped. Less than a quarter of sexual assaults get reported. This means that over 75% of American women who have been a victim of assault, live every day knowing that their rapist or perpetrator is still out there, unreported. In college-aged victims, the numbers are even lower; only 20% of female college students report. The amount of perpetrators that actually serve time is even lower.

 

Unsplash

 

But why don’t we report?

 

We are scared because we feel inferior. Maybe the assaulter was a boss, uncle, friend or a superior in some sort of way. Maybe he was an established member of society while we were still silly girls finding our way through the beginning of adulthood.

 

We think it is our fault. Maybe if we hadn’t worn that skirt, chose a different color lipstick, flirted a little less. Maybe if we had stayed home or asked a friend to go with us. Maybe if we locked ourselves in our rooms while our friends threw a party. If we hadn’t been so [insert any excuse here], maybe we wouldn’t have had to go through that.

 

We don’t think others will believe us. Maybe we don’t have any bruises or physical proof; it is his word against ours. Maybe it isn’t bad enough to report.

 

We don’t want to relive the worst moment of our lives. Every time we say his name, think of his face, and pass the place it happened, our heart sinks, our confidence disappears, and we think of the moment that will forever taint our memories.

 

We don’t know the proper terms or resources. The word “rape” and “sexual assault” are taboo in our society. Nobody utters them, so we are scared to incorrectly use them.

 

These are only a few reasons among many that explain what women tell themselves which makes them scared to report.

 

Assorted Books Dom J/Pexels

 

So, what is it?

 

*Trigger warning! The following sections may contain graphic imagery.*

 

Rape is defined, by the United States Department of Justice, as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The updated definition of rape is inclusive to all sexualities and genders. 

 

Sexual assault is defined, by the United States Department of Justice, as “any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.” Sexual Assault ranges from comments to rape.

 

Sexual assault examples include, but are NOT limited to, unwanted sexual pictures, unwanted sexual comments or texts, and any type of sexual contact that is not wanted. 

 

Consent is defined, by Merriam-Webster, as “to give...approval.” Consent is an ongoing process and can be taken back at any time. If you give consent to a person, but change your mind, consent is, therefore, revoked. Any action after that is sexual assault. Consent is not forced, manipulated or coerced; consent is given by your own free will. Consent cannot be given while physically (high, drunk, asleep, etc.) or mentally (illness, disability, etc.) impaired.

 

empty stadium seats Marvin Ronsdorf/Unsplash

 

How about a simple rundown of a couple scenarios?

 

Scenario 1:

You are at a club, and you are starting to get a little tipsy. You are wearing a mini skirt, bralette and are flirting. He offers to take you outside, and you say sure. You guys are talking and joking outside, but then he pushes you against the wall. You try to push him away OR you say, “let’s go back inside,” OR you say, “no.” He then continues to try to kiss you. Sexual assault!

What is wrong? You did not give consent, and he continued to force himself upon you. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, where you are, or how you say no. If you don’t give consent, then it is sexual assault.

 

Scenario 2: 

You bring your significant other home with you because you are horny and in the mood. You both are naked and making out, but then you feel a sudden feeling of discomfort. You tell him that you aren’t really up for it anymore, but he continues to stick his fingers OR penis in you. Rape!

What is wrong? He put a body part in you after you revoked your consent.

 

There are doctors standing in the hallway of a hospital. Oles Kanebckuu

 

How do you report?

 

First of all, you do not need to report right away, but you do need to get tested right away. You can go to the hospital and a medical professional will help you complete a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK), also commonly known as a rape kit. If you do this, try not to bathe, shower, use the restroom or comb your hair. After traumatic experiences, washing off will be your first instinct, but resist your urge until after the SAEK. SAEKs are most helpful when collected within 72 hours of the sexual assault.

 

Secondly, you do not have to report the perpetrator immediately if you wish not to. You can request the hospital to hold your SAEK until you are ready to report. 

 

Note: States have different statutes of limitations meaning that you can report whenever you want, but charges may not be pressed after a certain number of years.

 

Couple drinking coffee together Photo by Taylor Hernandez from Unsplash

 

At the end of the day, us females will continue to find the lit and busy street, look over our shoulders, and hold onto our pepper spray with tight grips because, yes, our lives depend on it. Our physical and mental well-being is affected every day, both consciously and subconsciously. Someday, I will have my own kids, and it terrifies me that they will grow up in a world where I have to teach them to defend themselves. I will continue praying every day that the world will become safer. But nothing is going to change unless we put in effort and force the change to occur.