WELCOME TO THE STAND UP! RASASH BLOG.
Let's take a stand against sexual violence!
Emotional manipulation is testing my patience
As it keeps on recurring in people’s relations
It starts with a innocent remark, some say the initial spark
As your partner claims their utter unworthiness and you reassure them of their “manliness”
Then it soon escalates,
As they comment snidely about your mates, boys, girls, past dates.
Suddenly you are told to cover up, take off that make up and grow up
Because you are to blame, for his ‘friends’’ nicknames that are aimed to shame you.
You're a hottie
Luv, can ya not?
Cover up because that's what he wants, cover up because you are his to flaunt
After all his is that voice that haunts every thought...
You only hear your breathing as you sit there, in and out, the post war silence of nightmares, In and out, the flush of awkwardness swarms the air, in and out, like all the time and care,
In and in, and in some more
Because you give and give to be treated so poor
But you don't pout, because it will be questions galore
Until those questions bore you right off your chair,
Where you sit, wanting someone to cuddle on the stair
Someone to stroke with your hair,
Someone to play fair.
Instead it continues, the only form of contact are pissed glares.
Is this love or abuse, affection or misuse
Because next he is telling you
Waiting for the next fight.
Convinced there is an end in sight
Convinced you are going to leave,
Convinced that you have an evil deed up your sleeve,
And if you did, he has got off with countless,
But every time you answer that question
“Yes, I love you
The things you do,
They overrule the things you say,
The fun trips all expenses, I don’t pay.
Your company is emotionally expensive,
But you say every penny is worth its tears,
The mental challenges...
The verbal violence over my own body”
The body of somebody not somebody's
And that somebody is gorgeous in and out
You don't need him to shout that,
As if he allows it
Because you are gorgeous.
...And don't forget it.
This piece of writing was submitted anonymously by a close friend of the author of the previous piece on our blog who was processing the effects of a damaging relationship. The solidarity between them shines in this piece of writing and the ability with which this young woman is able to empathise with her friend whilst simultaneously identifying toxic treatment and behaviours she's experienced is very impressive.
We all know the story. But even the best of us, young and old, even those of us with headstrong and stubborn influences, we can fall into the trap.
The trap of ‘I love yous’, ‘you’re so beautiful’, ‘I love your voice’, ‘you’re so smart’, ‘I can’t believe how lucky I am’. The trap is when those words change, when you are too far down the rabbit hole to see sense. To see the truth.
You’re then told to sit down otherwise boys will check you out, god forbid if there aren't any chairs. You can’t post that, you’re wearing the necklace that you were given for Valentines Day, three years ago, that boy will think you like him. You’re only posting that to get attention from all those boys aren’t you? You just bought those trousers because you know they make your ass look good. You look too hot to be in school. Grow up, you’re acting like a child. You speak too loud in public, I wish you would keep your voice down. I bet you go and gossip to all your friends about me. Did you have fun walking with that boy, why don’t you go sit with him instead. Did you wear that makeup to impress someone else? If you want to go chat to others it’s fine. It might be better if you wore a paper bag. You shouldn't be with me, I’m not good enough for you. You go have fun speaking to other people, I’ll be here when you’ll give me your attention. I’m sorry for everything. Be safe. I love you.
That is control. Giving up friendships with those you’ve had for years just to please one person, is not okay. Even if they tell you they’d delete everything for you, that they would stop speaking to any and all others, doesn't mean you should do it back. If something so simple as wearing a school uniform is a problem with your significant other, that’s not okay. If going to parties without them is not allowed, that’s not okay. If you’re no longer permitted to express yourself with your appearance, that’s not okay. If you are receiving dirty text messages that make you feel uncomfortable, that’s not okay. If they isolate you from your friends and family, it’s not okay. If they are hiding their true intentions from you with praise and compliments, that’s not okay. Never changing their behavior and plastering up their actions with ‘sorries’, is not okay.
If they are using what was once a loving embrace, to mould you into someone you’re not, that’s not okay.
My heart felt so full that I couldn't move for happiness. Sometimes the hard truth takes longer to rear its head. Despite family, friends, acquaintances, and people I barely knew telling me not to trust so quickly, not to be so easily led by endless excuses, I carried on believing. I let myself get tangled in the web of love and lies that was being spun specifically for me and my weaknesses. However that doesn’t make me pathetic and feeble. Or silly and naive. It makes me strong. I endured it all because I wanted to keep my loved one happy, even if it broke me. But eventually I accepted the help. Which only makes me braver. Or at least that’s how I see it. Making mistakes is easy enough, but knowing that you’re living in one big mistake, and then taking yourself away from that narrative, is a brave thing to do.
I was made to feel like the cold one in the relationship. That I didn’t give enough praise. I was made to question what I’d been told my whole life, by those who truly knew me. My family and friends told me I was very kind, caring and selfless towards the ones I love. To be suddenly told I wasn’t those things, made me feel invisible. If I wasn’t those things, why was he with me? I was convinced that it was a pleasure to be with him, in his ‘love story’. Not the other way round.
But, in the end, people take their own time to leave relationships. No matter how much you query them, it’ll always be their decision, in their time. Even if they know it’s wrong. You can’t always force them to see the truth, because they think they know better. There will be the happy memories that make you want to stay, that encourage you to hold on. As someone who defended their partner with all their might for months and months, I do understand that it’s one hell of a task to leave. But if you suspect you need help, then ask. Ask until you turn blue in the face because someone will help you and you will find relief.
If a partner or even a friend, ever makes you feel inadequate, or changes the beauty that is you in your entirety, into ‘their cup of tea’, tell them to fuck off, and leave you be.
This piece came from a courageous young woman in the aftermath of a breakdown in her relationship. It took her an immense amount of bravery and strength to articulate her experience and feelings and we are really grateful she has shared her story with us. If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control or other forms of domestic abuse, you can reach out for support from Women's Aid here in the Highlands: http://www.invernesswa.co.uk/
The topics of rape and sexual violence and abuse are always overlooked. Even the words alone make people squirm in their seats. Uncomfortable. Soon to be followed by someone talking over you and quickly changing the subject. Society has taught us to not mention these words and to hope that perhaps the subject will resolve itself. There’s some kind of unspoken rule among our society. People don’t stop to think about the people involved or how they must be feeling. The awkwardness and shunning seems to be woven into the fabric of our modern society.
This attitude has made survivors’ journeys more complex to resolve. The constant anxiety derived from people’s opinions and judgement. Too scared to share their stories.
Society teaches ‘don’t get raped’ instead of ‘don’t rape’. As if the blame somehow lies with the victim. We hear time and time again sentences like ‘pull your skirt down, it’s too short’ and ‘make sure you’ve got your phone and keys on you’. But never actually dealing with the root of the issue - rapists.
As this ‘society’ portrays rape and sexual violence as unspoken words, as the victim's’ fault, we need to reduce the taboo, and the stigma behind this crime. Over the past couple of years, campaigns have been starting to do this. For example, #metoo and #timesup, and now StandUP! Slowly, but surely society is getting the message. We must strive to continue on this path; for the benefit of current and future generations alike.
Written by Hannah Grewcock and Pixie Murray.
Hannah and Pixie are Third Year students at Dornoch Academy. They recently won their school's YPI competition by representing RASASH and delivering a powerful presentation covering topics as diverse as rape culture, sexual violence taboos and the absolute need for support for survivors.
Pixie: I first found my interest in RASASH when participating in my school’s YPI (Youth and Philanthropy Initiative) project. My team chose to represent the charity because they were targeting issues that we believed needed to be addressed. The topic of rape and sexual
violence is one that is frequently overlooked and we want to help change this. After we won our school’s YPI project, we decided to keep in touch with RASASH and to keep educating people on the issue of rape and sexual violence.
As well as this, in my spare time I enjoy playing in pipe bands, debating political issues and current affairs, mentoring, campaigning and blogging!
Hannah: I am a third-year pupil from Dornoch Academy. I first was interested in supporting RASASH as a Highland Youth Parliament representative. Later, deciding to represent RASASH, with my team, at YPI (Youth Philanthropy Initiative) and winning - I am immensely pleased that the money went to such a worthy cause.
In my spare time, I enjoy playing smallpipes, volunteering, martial arts, and painting and sketching.
RASASH deals with a topic which is seen as taboo, even today. It is a brilliant charity which deals with unspoken, and sensitive topics which aim to raise awareness and help those in this situation. After YPI, I wanted to help more - through this blog I wish to help bring light to the issues of rape and sexual abuse, and reduce the normalisation of these crimes - contributing to a positive change to everyone affected.
my boyfriend wants something i cannot offer
it’s normal though, so why am i bothered?
he tugs at my shirt and begs me “pretty please?”
his hands creep up and i’m filled with unease
his palms tug at my breasts and there’s an aching in my chest
as i try to do my best to put my subconscious to rest
my vision clouds a bit and as he starts to bite his lip,
i think i may be sick
“but he’s my boyfriend, it’s natural” my subconscious battles
for once, why the hell can’t she cease to prattle?
he pushes up my school uniform: another reminder that this is wrong
and i tell myself i have to be strong and give him what he wants
but i don’t owe him shit and i don’t have to fit to the rules that society has made
i’m not an object or just another project to waste another desperate boy’s time
he tried to take what is mine: my dignity
and ever since i have felt unworthy
because that is what society has told me.
- Anna Bayne.
You picture their face, you quicken your pace, but there is no escape.
From the pain in your head, that feeling of dread, inside.
What they did was not right, their grip was too tight.
You close your eyes but you only picture that night.
You feel embarrassed, like it's yourself to blame, the shame.
There are millions of you that feel the same.
There is help out there, people who care, somewhere you can share your stories without judgement, without shame, because you are not to blame.
Stacey was only 17 years old that night she was told that if she said no or tried to get up and go, they would spread the word, of Stacey, the sluttiest bird.
The pain she endured is one that cannot be cured.
Silenced by society, doesn't Stacey deserve to be happy?
1 in 5 women are pressured into sex.
In sexual assault, violence is the cause and consequence.
Sexualisation of an object or person is leading us to a society worse than being raped on the street.
OH WAIT. That is what we will meet if we do not defeat this idea of 'asking for it'.
Because the way that you flirt, the length of your skirt is no reason for them to insert.
Boys will be boys, will play with boys’ toys.
Born into a world of pink or blue, conditioning genders is nothing new.
But boys should not be boys, and people abusing them should not be white noise.
No matter how you're told to behave, raging hormones and grabbing waists is not a teenage phase.
RASASH is more than just a helpline. We strive for a world that doesn't define our people by the length of our hemline.
It's up to you to make a stand, it's up to you to you to demand a zero-tolerance society. Don't we all deserve to be happy?
For us, this is the end of our rhyme, and oh rape? You are out of time!
Chan eil a-h-uile duine a’tuigsinn dè tha feimineachas an-diugh a’ciallachadh.
Chan eil e mu dheidhinn a’fuathachadh fireannaich.
Tha e mu dheidhinn a’strì airson an math. Uaireannan tha feimineachas an-diugh air a bhith mì-riochdaichte.
Chan eil sinn a’strì an aghaidh neo-feimineachas.
Tha Rasash a’strì airson an fheadhainn a tha fo smachd.
Ann an saoghal lann de neo-ionannachd.
Bidh boireanaich an latha an-diugh a’strì airson sòisealtas gun fhulangas sam bith.
A’ strì airson an fheadhainn nach urrainn dhaibh fhein a’ bruidhinn.
A’ strì airson stad a chuir air na meadhanan sòisealta.
A’ strì an aghaidh an smuain gu bheil an aodach agam a’ toirt “ ceud “.
A’ strì airson còraichean daonna cruinneil.
Tha feimineachas an latha an-diugh mu dheidhinn a’ cleachdadh an guth agad.
Tha sinn a’strì airson roghainn.
Thuirt Millicent Fawcet - “ Tha misneachd a’ gairm misneachd anns a h-uile àite agus ‘s e guth nach urrainn do dhuine ach cluinntinn”.
Tha e mu dheidhinn a’seasamh suas airson na tha thu a’creidsinn.
Ag agair atharradh agus a’ strì airson piseach.
Tha feimineachas an latha an-diugh mu dheidhinn saoghal far a bheil a h-uile duine co-ionann.
Chan ann dìreach dhomhsa neo dhutsa ach dhan a h-uile duine.
Co-ionannachd cinnidh anns an t-saoghal uile gu lèir.
Hello, I’m Lucie Corbett aged 15 from Dingwall Academy. When I’m not in school I’m a Highland Dancer and I practice to compete regularly. I started having an interest with Rasash when we were doing the YPI course and now I am lucky enough to be involved with them. The reason I wanted to get involved with Rasash was because they address the social issues in our society today and the lack of help that is out there for men/women who have experienced sexual assault. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with Rasash and to carry on helping them out! :)
Modern day feminism is often misunderstood
It’s not about hating men
It’s about fighting for the good
Sometimes modern day feminism is misrepresented
It’s not about hating non-feminists
It’s about fighting for those who are still subjected
To a world of inequality
Modern day feminism is about fighting for a 0 tolerance society
Fighting for the those who cannot fight for themselves.
Fighting to stop placing people on these social media shelves
Fighting to stop for the idea of ‘my dress mean yes’
Fighting for global human rights progress
Modern day feminism is about using your voice
It’s about fighting for a choice
In the words of Millicent Fawcett
‘Courage calls to courage everywhere and it’s a voice that cannot be denied.’
It’s about taking a stand in what you believe
Demanding a change and a fight to achieve
Modern day feminism is about making the world an equal place
Not just for me. Not just for you, but for everyone
The whole human race.
Hello! I’m Kirsty Arnaud aged 14 from Dingwall Academy. I first heard about RASASH at the charity fair our school was holding for our YPI event and was inspired by the work the charity does. This further inspired my team and I to write a poem to express the social issues that still occur in our society today. Following the YPI journey I am lucky enough to continue my work with RASASH by writing items for their blog. Outside of school I am a member of Inverness Harriers athletics club and train and compete on a regular basis. My recent work with RASASH has redefined my understanding of feminism and I am looking forward to continuing to contribute to the RASASH campaign!
Let's break away
From what others say.
Let's break away
Day by day.
For this may
Be the only way…
To remove ourselves from this mould
Shaped by others. Made for us all
To be the same.
But we can hear this call
Our call, to change things about.
In a world where we're forced to be similar
But born to stand out.
Let's go now
To start a row.
Let's go now
Ourselves to figure out how,
To start changing things now.
There's more to a woman
Than how she may dress.
There's more to a woman
Than looks. Talents they suppress
After being told "no."
That it doesn't fit the role
They are supposedly meant to show.
Requirements they aren't meant to meet.
For your gender roles say
Women need a man to feel complete.
Don't underestimate a woman's ability
For we are all equal,
And we can be anything that we want to be.
Let us be
Who we are; free.
Let us be
Unique, we plea.
And not who you expect to see.
Finally being who we choose to be.
There's more to a man
Than the sports he should play.
There's more to a man
Than work, the bills he should pay
And for them to always be strong,
Or else they wouldn’t fit the role,
Weakness, in men, considered wrong.
Rough, tough and torn,
Traits they should always hold.
For your gender roles represent
Men as emotionless, cold.
But don't underestimate a man's ability
For we are all equal,
And we can be anything we want to be.
Let us fight
For what is right.
Let us fight,
Our end goal in sight
We need to take flight
And fearlessly fight.
For gender doesn't define who we are,
For gender roles date back so far,
These expectations we need to break,
For they create an extremely fake
And unrealistic view on how people need to act,
Walk, talk, speak, feel, live. Let's react
For it's our time to change,
Challenge these gender stereotypes.
Let's break away
And start now,
To change the way
Of wrong and right.
We need to break away.
Jo enjoys reading and poetry. They enjoy writing poetry around the subject of LGBTQ+ and mental health, as well as working with their school's equality forum to help make a positive impact and difference. You can find them on Instagram - @magic.marvolo and on Facebook - Jodie Fitzpatrick.
We live in the age of the #metoo campaign, with countless men, women and celebrities showing support for equality for women. In-fact it seems everyone wants to say they stand for equality, but if we are to believe so many people support it, why in a recent survey of 12,000 people from 32 countries, did less than a third of women and only 17% of men identify as feminists *1 and why do I still hear people use the word ‘feminism’ as an insult? “You’re such a feminist!” or “What are you, a feminist?” are comments heard regularly in my school when the slightest detection of sympathy for women is heard. Speaking publicly in support of feminism can be a controversial thing to do; often met with derision and insults from both males and females. But why should it be so controversial? A quick search of feminism turns up several definitions and reading through we can start to see where it begins to go wrong. The ‘Urban Dictionary’ definition is: “Feminism used to be about women getting the same rights as men, such as the right to vote and equal pay at work. Now feminism is a movement full of women who seem to think that their ability to push a baby out of their vagina entitles them to bigger and better everything” *2 . Feminism is defined more helpfully in the ‘Oxford Dictionary’ as: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes” *3 . I’m not suggesting most people will be searching the ‘Urban Dictionary’ for their definitions but certainly some young people might; and from there you can begin to see how the original definition has become blurred.
So, what is feminism? Well let’s be clear on what it’s not; it’s not “a movement full of women who seem to think that their ability to push a baby out of their vagina entitles them to bigger and better everything” (another helpful definition from urban dictionary) or that we are demanding more money and better jobs than men. It’s not a group created for dominance over men by radical, men-hating lesbians. Nor is it a Nazi movement; despite the common use of the insulting term; ‘feminazi’. Nazism is rightly condemned in all dictionary definitions; so why should it be associated with a movement that seeks to bring equality for all?
Perhaps we need to re-examine what feminism is; it’s about empowering each other and fighting for equality; for you, me, everybody; creating a voice for any marginalised group. It’s about fighting to raise awareness for the gaps in equality, such as in pay and jobs. This is everybody standing behind each other, holding each other’s hands and telling the world shocking stories of what they went through because of this gender bias. This is a positive movement to try to influence society’s views and opinions on women; to educate the younger generations on equality, so together they can grow up in an equal place and pass that on to their children.
But why are young teenagers reluctant to vocalise their positive opinions on this movement? Confidence. There is so much stigma surrounding feminism in schools, teenage boys often take a negative stance on the matter and are most likely to use the term as an insult. This can make many of us feel like it’s a bad thing to support; we might feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit we agree with feminist values, making us reluctant to speak up in support. Without this vocal support many of us stay quiet fearing judgement, and this helps the vocalised negative opinions become normalised.
So, what can we do to do change this? Let’s start in primary schools, teaching young children that gender is not a barrier to anything. That from a young age nobody should be embarrassed of their gender or feel confined by it. Nor should they have to grow up in an environment where gender is used as an insult. We can all make changes in small ways; stop using gender stereotypes such as “boys will be boys” or “you throw like a girl”, have confidence in calling it out when we hear it. Letting our positive voices be heard to
empower those that may be shy, so we know that we are not alone in holding these values. To educate those who believe feminism’s goals are unrealistic or discriminatory. To take responsibility, as a society, to ensure that the next generation is the first equal one for everybody.
To conclude, feminism is vital for young people all over the world to grow up in a more equal world and to maybe even help achieve a UN global goal: gender equality. But further education and lots of emphasis on its actual aims rather than the myths surrounding it are needed. 100 years on from the suffragette movement, you should not still be mocked for asking for equality.
The #metoo hashtag started trending last week, encouraging anyone who had experienced harassment, abuse or assault to post #metoo to ‘show the extent of the problem’. Hashtag campaigns, by their nature, scrape the surface. You cannot fit a nuanced explanation of the varied impacts of the patriarchy into 140 characters, or find one short phrase which will summarise how all survivors feel. This is possibly why half of my friends have been very keen on the campaign, with many sharing their own experiences, and the other half are significantly less keen on survivors being responsible for raising awareness of the very violence which was committed against them.
The wider response to the campaign has had many expressing shock at the number of posts prompted by the hashtag, but the statistics on sexual violence are readily available: 90% of women have been catcalled, 10, 273 sexual offences were reported to Police Scotland in 2015-16, 16% of boys will be victims of childhood sexual abuse, 1 in 10 women in Scotland have been raped. Although there is less awareness of how these issues affect boys and LGBT people, how common it is for women to experience sexual violence is hardly shocking news to anyone who has been willing to listen. (As a case in point, the #metoo campaign itself was actually started 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke, but took off again when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the idea last week - indicative not just of how hard it is to be heard when you speak about violence, but of who is more likely to be listened to.) Although realising that these statistics connect to people you know is jarring, the level of surprise in the media begs the question why people need to be shown time and time again that these are the intimate, painful ways that individual women have suffered before they will acknowledge that this is a problem.
One purpose of the hashtag was to raise awareness, but it has also prompted survivors to express how they feel. The power of breaking the silence around sexual violence can be huge but the emotions behind someone choosing to tell their story are extremely complicated and personal. For some, the unity of a hashtag that lets them declare what happened to them will be freeing. A person who has had to tolerate the unwanted compliments of the ticket man on the train every day may well feel that the anger that has built up would be well expressed through a defiant tweet. Someone who has had similar daily attention but from an employer with the ability to fire them may feel differently.
We know how hard it is for people to talk about sexual violence. The reality is that there will be a significant number of people who have experienced sexual violence who will not feel comfortable revealing that on the internet who we are therefore not seeing in this discussion. For many, the barriers created by their trauma, the shame instilled in them by their abuser, the cultural background they are from, the ongoing presence of the abuser in their life, the gender role that society presents them with will all mean that speaking out in any way - let alone on social media - does not feel like a viable option.
Although there are similarities between the experiences of survivors of sexual violence, no two people will ever feel completely the same about what happened to them. It is worth considering how people with different identities and different stories may relate to the #metoo campaign and feel excluded from it. After all, if this is a conversation about survivors, it should be a conversation which is mindful of all survivors. Drawing upon the shared knowledge we have as women can help us support each other but it is also important to recognise our differences as we witness each other’s truth. This is what allows us to move beyond our own experiences to an awareness of collective experience.
The people I have seen posting on social media do not all have the exact same story. The thing they have in common is they all live in a patriarchal culture that normalises such violence. #Metoo focuses on the victims. It does not shine the spotlight on the people who are truly responsible for the prevention of sexual violence: the people who commit it. Nor does it highlight the gendered power imbalances, male entitlement and objectification which are the overarching causes of rape, abuse and harassment. Female survivors have been speaking out for decades and progress has been hard earned. Perhaps the real issue is that the people with the ability to change the rate of sexual violence - perpetrators, legislators, bystanders - are not listening. If we truly want to raise awareness to prevent violence, they need to be our focus.
Hopefully, what #metoo has been is a chance for some survivors not to feel alone. It has been a chance to be heard and a chance to listen, to find and give support, to show compassion in response to vulnerability. Although the majority of men sympathetic to the cause may well have already been aware of the reach and impact of male violence, or be survivors themselves, perhaps for some this has been a wake-up call. If you are a survivor who has been empowered to speak out by this campaign, we hear you. If you feel the need to talk further then I urge you to reach out to a friend who you can trust, a reputable helpline or a local support centre. If you are a survivor who has found this a reminder of how silenced you are or who has found the hashtag triggering, then look after yourself and know that we care anyway, whether we know the details of your pain or not. But if you are a man who feels upset by the number of posts you’ve seen, then do not let this feeling go unused. Do not let that discomfort pass you by and settle yourself back into more familiar patterns. Here are some resources that might help you be better at challenging predatory behaviour or supporting survivors.
Because ultimately fixing male violence isn’t on us. It’s on you.
Welcome to the Stand Up! platform for young people's voices from across the Scottish Highlands. This site showcases quality pieces of writing on topics relating to gender-based violence from passionate young writers who want to get their voices heard.