No one likes to talk about it. It’s awkward and there’s a stigma in talking about sexual assault or rape. Different statistics show 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in their life time. Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted (RAIIN). 54% of reported rapes are against people ages 18 to 43. The statistics are scary when you are raising girls. That is not to say that boys are not sexually assaulted, I’ve worked with several boys who have been sexually assaulted. I’m going to focus on girls today though.
I’ve been teaching karate for almost 20 years now. I’ve also interned at the Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio for a year. What I’ve seen firsthand is that most rapes/sexual assaults are committed by a known person to the victim. Significant other, ex-boyfriend, co-worker, teammate, cousin, coach – you get the idea. It’s usually someone they know or are familiar with. I was on call for Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital & The Downtown Metro Hospital. I do not recall a time when the attacker was a stranger. Sure, sometimes women said it was a stranger because the truth seemed worse to them. The truth always showed its ugly head though. The truth was, it was someone they knew. Let that sink in, someone they knew violated them in a way that even society doesn’t like to talk about and we live in a society that seems to have almost no taboo’s. I spent a lot of time at the Children’s Hospital. I held the hand of a young girl as she had a complete rape kit done on her, including the pelvic examination. She wasn’t even sure how babies where made yet. I’ve worked with a girl whose mother started selling her for sexual favors at the age of 9. By the time she was 11 and “Mom” was in jail she had no idea how to act around men except to be provocative.
I wish girls, women and parents of girls knew what I’ve seen. I wish they knew that the above statistics are likely lower than the truth. Many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported (there’s a stigma or it’s her fault anyway). If everyone knew what I’ve seen, my classes would be jammed packed with girls and women.
So, what can be done?
#1. Be aware of your surroundings, always! Put your phones down, always have one hand free. Awareness is so very important.
#2. Teach your girls that they do in fact have a voice and that it is permissible for them to use their voice forcefully. Speak up, make eye contact, use authority in her voice. Have open lines of communication with your daughter.
#3. Get training! I, of course, am biased to karate but when it comes down to it, study any style that will combine traditional escape tactics with fighting techniques. Fighting techniques should include: proper strikes with fists, knees & elbows; and block & counter techniques. There should be an emphasis on where to strike to cause the most damage. This one can be hard but, INSIST on the training. Not all girls have a passion for the martial arts like I do. However, ALL girls need to learn to defend themselves.
Yes, I know we should teach boys/men not to sexually assault however, that hasn’t happened. It is better to be prepared. I tell my students to train hard and that I hope they never need to fight. Reality is that many of them will have to defend themselves. I’ve had women and men tell me they have used what they learned to protect themselves. Both of my daughters have had to defend themselves in school! Don’t make training an option, make it a lifestyle!