Teaching Consent to Our Children

Video Shows How We Expose Our Kids To Rape Culture Without Even Realizing It

I have been teaching my boys about the basic the principals of consent since forever. Partly because I am a rape survivor and I do not want my boys to ever be responsible for bringing this fear into the hearts of someone else. Partly because my children are special needs and sadly this makes them targets. So right from the beginning I have made it known that no one touches you without your permission. Period. Not me. Not anyone. The same rule applies to them in regards to others.

When they were little I made it clear it didn’t matter what kind of touching it was. It pissed off a lot of family back then. Not sorry. My son doesn’t like you patting him on the head, you don’t get to do it. End of discussion. Do not cross that boundary. Do not teach my children that it’s okay for these boundaries to be crossed.

As Latter-Day Saints we are taught that our bodies are the temples of our spirits. That they are sacred. Our body, our chastity, is to be protected with a fierceness like no other. I actually had in one of my Young Women’s class a lesson where we were told it was better to die than to have our virtue stolen. Yet all around me, both in and out of the church, we are inadvertently teaching our children that this sacred boundary doesn’t exist. We’re not taught how to protect it. We’re not taught how to honor it.

No one taught me self defense. So the words “better to die that to have your virtue stolen” was a bitter pill to swallow when faced with “If you ever want to see your kids again, you’ll give me what I want.” I couldn’t go down fighting because I didn’t know how. And I sure as hell didn’t want to leave two little boys alone in the world because at the time I was a single mother. I didn’t say yes, but I did choose to live.

Just one more drop in the bucket. Just one more reason to judge me. And yes, I caught holy hell for it. Somehow in the end it was my fault. I’m still angry that I wasn’t able to fight back. I’m angrier still that I got yelled at and accused for it – by my father no less.

So yes, I do allow the public schools teach my children sex ed but I also make sure they get my full brand of it too. I make sure they understand they never ever have the right to anyone’s body. They never have the right to invade someone’s personal space – sexual or otherwise.

There is so much at stake here. One bright, very late October afternoon completely altered my entire world view – and not for the better. My birthday of all days. Supposed to have been a simple quiet day out. Play some pool, go for lunch, and be back before dark. But that’s not what ended up happening. I was lied to. I was tricked. Instead of doing any of that he drove me all over the place. I ended up being taken to the middle of east bumfuck of no where. No alcohol. No drugs. I was wearing jeans and a baggy shirt. Where in all of this did I asked to be treated in this manner? The worst part in all of this is, if he had been a decent gentleman and had been polite and just I don’t know ASKED me if I would like to go somewhere to have sex instead of play pool I just might have said yes, because you know hypersexuality is a real thing. But no, the asshole had to be a creep and had to do this instead in this horrifying, scary way. He felt the need for whatever reason to threaten me. He threatened the future of my children.

Before this happened I didn’t just own my sexuality, I rocked it. I ruled my temple and it was invitation only. And back then I didn’t care who judged me for it. I believed that if God gave us free agency then it was between Him and me alone. Even now I’m willing to stand by the choices I have made with the free agency that has been given to me based upon the understanding I had at the time.

But now, the invitations have been burned and crumbled away. Every touch is a trespass. Every glance is a threat. Clothing serves only to hide and be invisible now. I’m not talking about attractive modesty. I’m talking about intentionally dressing like a block. This is no way for ANYONE to live. To live in fear of being looked at, to be seen. To experience rage just because someone in a store bumped into you. To lose joy in a game you once devoted yourself to. I own a specialty pool stick. It’s green. It has a frog painted on it. Technically it’s a “jump” stick. But because I’m so small it’s the perfect length and weight for me to play other than breaking – I had another stick just for that. I gave away my breaking stick. I can’t tell you where my frog stick is or even if it’s in playable condition now.

I don’t want this for anyone else and I sure as hell don’t want to be the parent of a child that brings this hell to anyone else. I might not be able to bring about radical change within the legal system or fix the systematic blindness we have in our country to all our ills, but what I can do is try to raise these 3 boys to be really good people that truly care about others. Deep down it is my hope that if there is enough of us that make an honest effort towards this goal, then the world will eventually become a better and safer place.

11 thoughts on “Teaching Consent to Our Children

  1. HERO!
    Just like that. That’s what heroes do. They overcome all the obstacles and teach other people how to be good. Just like them.
    Your kids are lucky to have you 🙂
    You are lucky to have YOURSELF!

    • I don’t feel that way about myself. I admit that most of the time, especially around this time of year, I struggle with a lot of anger and resentment. This year in particular has been bad with the high profile case of Brock Turner that has been floating around every where on Facebook. Too much of it felt too close to home despite the differences in situation. I have buried this part of my past for so many years. I have been pretending for so long like it never even happened. Then I got married and discovered I couldn’t quite pretend anymore. Then the Brock case hit my Facebook wall… I’ve been watching for quite some time the tide of conversation about this just surge around me as I struggle with how I feel. Suddenly I can’t forget anymore. I’m no longer able to brush the memories away and pretend it didn’t happen.

      When this happened my oldest son hadn’t even started Kindergarten yet. My middle son had just barely turned a year old. He hadn’t even begun the process of his Autism screening. It wasn’t even on my radar yet. Both of these boys are young teenagers now. It feels both far away yet so very recent at the same time. Funny how the mind works like that.

      I know that somewhere on LiveJournal I posted about this event within a month after it happened. Mostly about a decision I made and why. The account has since been set to private but I have been debating whether to seek out and share that one post here. If nothing else but to help myself process what I’m feeling and what has happened. Because right now there is still a lot of sad and anger swimming around inside. I know you can’t let go of what you don’t allow yourself to process and maybe I’m over due for a lot of stuff. Not just this event, but it’s a place to start.

      I don’t know if I will ever see myself as a hero. Honestly I’m not sure if anyone ever does. I’m only now coming to terms with being a survivor. Every day I am reminded how I am not the perfect mother or how I’m not doing whatever it is right. Some days I’m doing good just to get up out of bed. I hope that someday my boys will understand why I do the things I do. No, scratch that. I hope that they don’t understand. To truly understand they would have to be in this mess and I don’t want them here. Instead I hope they have compassion for why I do the things I do. More than anything else I hope that they care about and respect others. I want them to understand that whatever it is we have going on there are others that are struggling just as much, if not more. And I want them to be able to protect themselves. I want them to feel safe enough to come to me if something bad were to happen.

  2. Read the whole thing before you get upset.

    I will tell you my view of being violated has always been kill them or die trying.

    However that being said I would like to explaine why.
    I only have this view not because of my strength. Quite the contrary. I have this view because of my weakness. I would rather die because I am weak. I do not think I could live through it or with it.

    You my dear made the right choice. The strong choice. Imagine a beautiful flower, trampled down, only to grow twice as strong and twice as beautiful. That’s what your soul has done. May be peace and hugs be with you.

    • I’m not upset, but I did cry because I think I do understand. And thank you, It does help some to change the way I look at it. My sister has tried to say something similar. That survival, in any form, is strength.

      The anger that I have about that teaching, and what I failed to express in my original post, is not just that we aren’t taught how to defend and protect ourselves, but when shit like this does happen that there are people that end up feeling so worthless and so little of value that they commit suicide. I felt betrayed and forsaken by God when I miscarried but not when I this happened. Instead I felt betrayed and forsaken by the community and by some family. There is this mistaken message on some level of either you didn’t fight or you survived so you must have wanted it. And it’s one that isn’t just the church. It floats around throughout our society. Sometimes the message is silent and built in but in other cases it’s spoken out loud. This is wrong. This is not how consent works and when it’s teamed up with the concept of dying before virtue stolen things quickly escalate into something nasty. Suddenly the soul has lost all value to the point of worthlessness. We may as well just tell people to outright kill themselves. Or just pull the trigger on them ourselves. That’s how horrible this is. Why is society doing this? Why are we teaching people that because they lived through something horrible they suddenly have no value and thus are better off dead? That’s what makes me angry about this teaching. If they truly believed that then why are they not making a greater effort to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place?

      No one should ever have to feel like they have to make that choice. Not you. Not me. Not anybody. Not ever. I’m not saying that a person is wrong for feeling that way or wrong for making that choice. I’m just saying we should never make people feel like they have to make that choice. It’s is wrong to force people into that corner. And that makes me angry. It will always make me angry. And when the worst happens we should be at the ready with our crash kits in hand prepared to build up and repair, not tear down. Yet we are tearing them down every time. It makes me angry that this is happening. This lack of compassion more than anything else.

      Let me be clear I am no saint. I’ve been guilty too. I have questioned the validity of someone’s claim before. I didn’t even know the accused yet I still questioned. This is how pervasive this issue is. Even after what happened to me the first thing my mind did was question and it was shocking to me that I was willing to ask. Our culture has been programed in so many ways to assume the victim is at fault here that even I, who has been through it, caught myself victim blaming. How dare I think that only I can be a victim and not anyone else. How ridiculous is that? It took me awhile to come to terms with that. And yes, it made me angry to realize that for a moment I was a different kind of asshole. I can’t take that back but I can try my best to do better. I can own the fact I was an asshole and not do it again.

      If the programming of rape culture is so deeply embedded that even a rape survivor will reflexively victim blame a fellow survivor, then it desperately needs to change. That’s how bad it is in our country. And that’s why this is so important to me as both an individual and a parent.

      • Society.
        The place in which we live is in a spiritual war. Some people find comfort in the darkness. It gives them a false sense of control. The evil that invaded your life wants you to blame yourself. ( by evil I mean No religious reference ) The darkness I speak of is when you here thoughts that are not your own. The wispers that drag you back into the darkness to relive the nightmare. Our society is upside down and backwards. People I have found, are finding it easier to avoid an issue or deny it rather than ponder a solution for it. For them who the darkness has not touched don’t want to acknowledge the darkness it there. They are ruled by fear. To see it is to fear it. You were saved for just this reason. To help others so they don’t have to be alone. To shine a light into the darkness. Make no mistake you could have just as easily have died that day. Many don’t survive. You did. It’s ok to be upset, it’s ok to feel broken. Just don’t loose the pieces of your soul. One day they can be put back together. That’s what you are doing now. Gluing pieces. Sorting through the pieces of what is you and what are pieces of what happend to you. I have a feeling you will rock this to. You are amazingly brave and strong. What I am going through is nothing like that and I have kept silent for years. You should be very proud of yourself. They have no control over you now. Please forgive me if there are any spelling errors. I lived in Germany as a child and still have a bad habit of spelling things as they sound and not how they are actually spelled. : ) Many many huggggsssss

      • You’re spelling is fine. 🙂

        I agree with the spiritual war. It does feel like we are constantly being dragged apart. I have come to learn that evil has so many names that it doesn’t need a reference.

        And try not to be so hard on yourself. Sometimes we need to rest in order to heal. Look at the seed of a flower: how much time can pass before it sprouts, grows, and blooms. Sometimes it will look like that seed is doing nothing for maybe years even but in truth it’s waiting for the right conditions. The same is true for you. Give yourself permission to rest and heal. Allow yourself to have the time you need. You owe no one nothing in this. If there comes a point where you are ready to share your story then do it for you, but know that you don’t owe anyone that story. The fact that you’re here talking on my blog tells me you are stronger than you give yourself credit for and the weakness that you are feeling is a signal that you still need that healing. There is nothing wrong with that and you deserve that time to heal. Do what you need to do to get where you need to be.

        I wish you so much love and light. I know this journey of ours sucks so much, but know that you’re not alone. There are many of us that do understand.

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