WARNING: This post is about rape. It's not about censorship, which I could go on for days about, because that has been comprehensively covered in other posts. It's not about religion, which I could go on for weeks about, maybe even years. It's not even about Dr. Scroggins and how amazed I am that he has a Dr. in front of his name given the magnitude of his ignorance. Or that he could find a book about rape 'pornographic' in any way. Devastating and tragic, yes. Pornographic, no. There have been many posts addressing the issue how Dr. Scroggins, a self-proclaimed Christian in Missouri, attempted to get the book SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson banned, along with several other books, for being akin to soft core pornography. His actual article can be found here. I will say one more thing about religion. Rape happens to young women (and some young men) of ALL religions, so to imply that a good Christian shouldn't let their kids read a book about this topic is absurd and irresponsible.
My YA hat is off today. I'm writing this as a Ph.D. licensed clinical psychologist who has worked with hundreds of rape survivors. Rape is an ugly act, and we have a tendency to sweep ugly things under the carpet, where we don't have to look at them. This is an issue that is too important to hide.
I've worked with girls impregnated by their own fathers and step-fathers. I've worked with girls whose mothers kicked them out of the house for trying to "steal their boyfriend" after said boyfriend repeatedly raped them. I've worked with girls who 'accepted' rape from family members, hoping it would spare their younger siblings from the same abuse. I've worked with girls who were date raped and did SPEAK only to be blamed themselves or told it was "her word against his," and then had to see the perpetrator in school every day. My heart has broken over and over again for these girls, but one of the best parts of my job is helping give a voice to those who feel they don't have one. Helping them become stronger than they ever thought they were before. Helping them SPEAK.
- 73% of women are raped by someone they know
- In the United States, someone is sexually assaulted EVERY TWO MINUTES
- Approximately 1 in 6 women (and 1 in 33 men) experience sexual assault in their lifetime. In my state of Colorado, it's almost 1 in 4 women.
- 60% of rapes are NOT REPORTED to the police. That's a lot of women NOT speaking.
This is why books like SPEAK are incredibly important in helping young people speak up about the issue of rape. This is true for young woman AND young men. I could write an entire post on the socio-cultural aspects of rape in our society, and how we're collectively responsible for the messages we're sending to young men with our "boys will be boys" mentality. I've worked with many incarcerated boys and men (some of whom were violent sexual offenders), and that's an entire post as well. Suffice it to say that it's important that EVERYONE be educated about this issue, as education is the first step in creating change.
SPEAK is a painful, poignant, and emotional journey through the eyes of a young date rape survivor. Melinda was as real to me as many of the adolescent girls I've worked with. This is a gripping and important story that deserves to be discussed. Yes, parents should be knowledgeable about what books their children are reading. But more importantly, parents should be actively involved in ALL aspects of their child's life and foster an open line of communication with them.
Banning a book about rape doesn't make the prevalence of date rape any less true than banning Copernicus' book on a sun-centered universe in the 1600's made it any less true that Earth revolved around the sun.And it's the year 2010--you'd think we'd have made a little more progress by now.
Okay, I'm stepping off my soap box and will return to writing advice next week. Before I do that, I'd like to give away a copy of the amazing book SPEAK by the extremely talented Laurie Halse Anderson.
To Enter: Just SPEAK. Really--just leave a comment, including a way to contact you if it's not part of your profile, and you're entered. That's it. Contest is open until 9pm ET on Monday. Oct. 4th.
An update on #SPEAKloudly from Laurie Halse Anderson: http://madwomanintheforest.com/the-power-of-speaking-loudly/