The Power of Saying No!

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As a therapist I assist my clients in their recovery process in healing the symptoms of unwanted sexual assault. The stories are about men and women and girls and boys. They happen with relatives and strangers as well as trusted family friends.

In the United States we don’t live during the time of active enslavement in our homes anymore. By this I mean that it is now illegal to sexually assault your wife, husband or children. This changed in 1994 when a law was passed that made sexual violence illegal.  The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103–322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994
This is not true in other countries around the world. In fact some countries have laws that make violence legal. For example:
In India; Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape. The country has effectively legalized marital rape. A similar law remains on the books in Singapore, where marital rape is acceptable so long as the girl is over 13 years old. In the Bahamas, rape is also not considered if there is a marriage and the girl is at least 14 years old.
The wider perspective in our history and our world cohort helps me to explain why I still hear stories about grandmothers and mothers who did not protect their grandchildren and children.
For example some children hear the time worn advice when reporting sexual abuse, “let’s just put this behind us, act as though it did not happen and it will go away”.
Another example happens when a 9 year old girl reports to her mother/grandmother, “the next store neighbor touched my breasts and my genitals” and the mother/grandmother responds by asking the 9 year old girl to stay in her room when the offending adult continues to visit the home to socialize with the parents.
The only way a woman or a man can believe this course of action is a solution to the problem is if they are use to the fact that they have to endure sexual assault as a normal part of everyday life. Our mothers and grandmothers who knew and did nothing had no power. The law was not behind them and the prevailing culture supported sexual abuse.
Women and men in recovery from sexual assault and the families meant to protect them, all need to learn the power of saying “No”. It’s not ok for you to touch my body and it’s
not ok for you to touch my child’s body.
I have the power to say no and you have the power to say no. When we exercise it we do it for ourselves and we do it for those who are still in slavery.
True freedom creates the powerful environment of equality. Equal partners respect and love each other’s wishes. When an environment is rich with respect; partnership blossoms and individuals rise to their full statue. They become who they were meant to be.

With Gratitude and Love,

Kate Lampe

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