By Sacchi Patel
The ways in which we believe we can prevent sexual & relationship violence are totally wrong.
Most of use, understand and accept that much of this violence is perpetrated by men, and it is almost always used against women. Consequently, we as a society have deemed sexual and relationship violence “a women’s issue” and then have diligently worked on creating new and innovative ways to “prevent” this violence. Historically, this form of prevention has taken the form of self-defense classes, rape whistles, and tasers.
So, now I have some questions:
- What impact have these “prevention tactics” had on decreasing violence?
- Who are these tactics meant to be used on?
- What is the best way to prevention relationship and sexual violence?
Here are my answers based upon my experiences:
- None. Relationship and sexual violence are as prevalent as ever. In fact, I’d argue that it has gotten worse in regards to how we victim-blame.
- Strangers. (Despite most sexual assault being perpetrator by a person that the victim/survivor knows).
- TALK TO PERPETRATORS!
Instead of focusing on telling women what they should have done (cover up their bodies completely, stayed with friends at the party, poured their own drinks etc.), we need to actually address the perpetrators since we can only control ourselves and our own actions. This puts the responsibility on potential perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence to control their own actions and to be held accountable for those actions. Women are not raping or abusing themselves. Men are choosing to rape or abuse. It is a conscious decision to harm someone yet the focus is always on the victim or survivor or more specifically, women. Perhaps in talking to and educating our men and boys, we can actually guide them in the direction that doesn’t lead force them to always stay in power and in control of every situation. Perhaps we can allow men to live unscripted lives. Perhaps we as men would learn the serious repercussions of our actions and decide that in order to be validated as a man, we do not need to hurt or harm others.