Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SPEAKing about Rape and SPEAK Giveaway

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.
(More statistics are available through the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

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/

We are throwing in a censorship button to the prize pack. No extra entries needed.


  1. I love this post. We all need to SPEAK up, otherwise so many voices are lost in the silence.

  2. thank you for sharing , i admire you for your voice and for doing your job in helping people


  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  4. Great post. Thank you for everything you do!
    amandarwest at gmaildotcom

  5. this is probably one of the best SPEAK post I've read all week. it amazes me just how much one can do to SPEAK up and SPEAK loudly. your job is admirable (and extremely tough) and I applaud you for what you do.

    amaterasureads AT gmail DOT com

  6. I was raped last Wednesday. I have started to SPEAK. The rape was terrifying, and talking / thinking about it is terrifying, but I don't want him to continue to hold me captive by keeping me silent, so I'm SPEAKing. Glad to find your timely blog post! Thanks for it, it's very important. Like you say, it happens to anyone from any group.

  7. @Victim Status--I'm so sorry to hear that. Feel free to email me if you need more info. You should also have a local RAAP center (Rape Assistance and Awareness Program) near you that can give support as well. Their main website is www.raap.org. It takes a lot of courage to speak, and it's a hard step, so I wish you the best in your healing. :)

  8. Well said. People keep focusing on the wrong part - instead of banning a book about rape, why not try to prevent rape? Would be much more useful.

  9. The idea that someone finds the subject of rape pornographic speaks more about him than it does any book.

    gkw9000 [at] gmail.com

  10. Amazing post! This is one of the best SPEAK posts I read all week long. Thank you so much! =)


  11. Way to speak up. It's nice to see someone approach it from the side as someone who's helped people deal with rape. I'm sure that a book about someone not speaking up, like Speak, would only help someone who had been raped, and it might even help others know what to avoid. Thanks for sharing,


  12. *claps* Great post. Very scary statistics.

  13. POWERFUL post. Thank you so much.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  14. This is such a well written post. Your point about Copernicus is right on target.

  15. Awesome. I'm a teacher and the fortunate survivor of an attempted rape. We have to TALK about it and discuss it. I am all about trying to get parents to read and talk about what their kids read. I told a parent last year to preview Hunger Games before letting her eleven year old read it b/c of the violence and the harrowing emotional journey of the mc. She said, Oh well as long as there's no sex I don't care what he reads.

    I wanted to tear my hair out!

  16. Iora96--I hear that all the time. Someone told me almost the exact thing about her 10-yo reading Mockingjay.In general, our society is way more comfortable with graphic violence than even a hint of anything sexual. That's part of the problem.

  17. Kristi, that was a beautiful and powerful post. Thank you.

  18. Fantastic post. I fully admire you for posting and helping others speak up. You rock. susankmann@blueyonder.co.uk

  19. It needs to be said out loud. Great post! In my (daytime) line of work, I too often work with children who have been sexually assaulted. They often can't speak for themselves.

    Thank you for supporting their voice.

  20. great post!!
    and giveaway too :)
    i´m in!!
    bye, and thanks!!
    SPEAK up hwen ever you have something to say, remember, better now than never ;)

  21. Brava, Kristi. :-D I have worked on both sides of the fence as you have and it is ugly. And to think that a "professional" would call the work porn. That guy is nuts to put it mildly.

  22. Great post! Sometimes people don't realise how supportive this kind of books can be when you're in a diffcult situation.
    So thank you for SPEAKing! This isn't just about book banning

    entrelibros_blog at hotmail.com

  23. Incredible post. And scary statistics every girl and woman should be aware of.

    Speak out everyone, speak out.

  24. this is one of the most heart-wrenching posts i've read about this topic since the floodgates on speak opened up.

    speaking as a statistic, thank you.

    k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com


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