13 Things I Would Tell My 15-Year-Old-Self About Dating

If I could magically go back in time and have a conversation with my 15-year-old-self, these are the 13 things I would make sure that she knew: 1. It’s not forever. People will tell you that you’re too young to be in love. They are wrong. You will fall in love. Hard. So hard that you will believe you are supposed to stay together forever. Some people stay with their high school sweethearts and get married and have babies and everything’s wonderful, but the truth is that the first person you fall in love with is most likely not the person you want to spend your whole, entire life with. And unless you are part of a very small percent of the population, you will be incredibly thankful for this. Give yourself time to date lots of people. Figure out what you want in a partner and save the “through sickness and health, till death do us part” until you’re older. 2. Be your own person, not part of a couple. Figure out who you are. Listen to the kinds of music that you like. Read the books you want to read. Try new things and keep discovering what makes you the wonderfully weird person that you are. Don’t create your identity on a foundation of someone else. Relationships do not define you. They can be a great way to connect with another person and share similar interests, but make up your own mind and be your own person. 3. Don’t give up things for relationships.  If you want to play a sport, join the band, be in a club, go to the movies, hang...

25 Things your teenage daughter won’t tell you if she’s being abused:

These are some of the secrets abuse victims keep. If you are a parent of a teenager, this is my message to you. It is inspired by a letter I received today.  When I started writing this list, I thought maybe I’d write 5-10 things. I ended up with almost 100. I narrowed them down and grouped them together to make 25. They are honest. Some will smack you in the face. Others are the tip of the iceberg. Here goes… 1. I’m being abused. Abuse happens in teenage relationships. Like, real abuse. To girls much younger than you could ever image. It comes in many different levels and many different forms: from controlling behaviors, to horrible naming calling (not like ‘bitch’ or ‘loser’…..things like ‘c*nt’, or ‘how could I respect someone who’s as big of a f*cking disgusting slut as you are,’) to rape, to threatening to kill us, or themself, to actually attempting to do so. 2. I’m lying to you. All the time. I’ll tell you that I am fine. That everything is fine. I’ll tell you to stay out of it. That nothing is wrong. That it’s none of your effing business. Or I’ll pretend to be happy and swear that everything is great. …it’s not. I’m lying.  I don’t lie because I mean to lie. I lie because I’m ashamed. Embarrassed. Afraid. I think I’ve let you down. I think that everything is my fault. And I think that I can somehow make it better by being better. I think that I can somehow change what is going on or make it go away by fooling the...

11 Things That Can Help You Recover from Abuse

“I am bigger than anything that can happen to me. All these things: sorrow, misfortune, and suffering, are outside my door. I am inside the house, and I have the key.” – Charles Fletcher Lummis Speak. Shame feeds on silence. Talking about that abuse might seem like the last thing you want to do, but speaking out about what happened to you and letting other people in takes away the power of the depression and the shame and gives that power back to you. Don’t know who to talk to? Confide in a parent or a friend, a coach, a guidance counselor, a brother or sister, a cousin, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a minister, priest or rabbi. Or, call a hotline, for example: The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, a national 24-hour resource, can be accessed by phone (1-866-331-9474 & 1-866-331-8453 TTY) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE)  Or, visit www.loveisrespect.org to access an online help page. Find a therapist or a support group. Talking to a professional or joining an organized survivor group can be pivotal for some victims. It can help you to understand that what happened to you is not your fault, and that the things you are struggling with are often normal symptoms of abuse.  It is important to find a therapist or group that you feel comfortable with. There are lots of great therapists out there and they can do wonders in your life if you are brave enough to put in the work. Psychology Today has a great source to help find therapists in your area:  http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/. Other good resource centers can be found at facilities specialized in...

‘Women Secretly Want To Be Raped’

Debunking 17 Popular Myths About Sexual Assault 1. Men rape women because they are overly aroused sexually or have been sexually deprived. MYTH. Rape is not about sex, it is about power and control. No matter what, sexual contact by force, or without consent, is against the law. No matter what. 2. It is not rape if the victim isn’t a virgin. MYTH. Every person has the right to decide whether or not they want to have sex EVERY time they do it. A person’s past sex life does not matter and is not a factor in deciding whether or not it was rape. Even if two people have had sex before, if one person forces the other person to have sex, it is rape. 3. Acquaintance rapes are not as serious as stranger rapes. MYTH. Any type of rape or sexual assault is serious and has serious effects on a person’s life. Despite the common belief that you can only be raped by a stranger, statistics show that over 80% of rape victims know their abuser. Acquaintance rape sometimes can be even more damaging to a victim’s life because of the betrayal of trust. 4. Women provoke rape by the way they dress. MYTH. Women have a right to wear whatever they want. There is no correlation between what people wear and if they are raped. This is an example of victim blaming. 5. Men cannot be raped. MYTH. Although it is less common, men can also be victims of sexual assault. In fact, 1 in 10 men will experience rape in their lifetime. 6. Women who do...

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The goal of SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. What can you do to help? For starters, educate yourself on the reality of sexual assault in our society today. Here’s a quick review to help: Definitions: Sexual assault: Forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object. Acquaintance assault: involves coercive sexual activities that occur against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury. These sexual activities are imposed upon them by someone they know (a friend, date, acquaintance, etc.). Incest: sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent. Consent: Consent occurs when both partners freely and willingly participate in sexual activities. The legal definition of rape includes any sexual contact without consent. Consent cannot be legally given, in most states, if a person is: – Under 17 – Mentally incapacitated – Drunk or high – Coerced – Forced Additionally, the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” So, even if a person does not fight back or explicitly say “no,” they still are not necessarily giving consent. ________________________________________ Statistics: •1 in 4 females will be the victim of sexual abuse by the time they graduate from college. •1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex...