Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Respect and feeling safe: means no sexual harassment

Courtesy of www.scoopwhoop.com
The Circle Way is based on respect  
Respect means recognizing that you matter, as a person.  It means that your feelings matter. What kind of living creature's feelings don't matter?  The fact that you have feelings which matter, is what defines you as a human being. 

That doesn't mean everyone agrees with your feeling.  It doesn't mean we can always do just as we feel.  Yet even when we can't follow our feelings with perfect freedom, still our feelings matter.  This means we need to listen to them.  Just listen: to ourselves and to each other, not only to words, but to feelings as well.

Respect means that when we've listened to others' feelings, we try to be sensitive to them. My flatmate might hate my musical taste.  But s/he can still respect my feelings, by not verbally belittling my favorite bands to me.  If my flatmate is a light sleeper, I don't choose his/her sleep time for blasting my favourite records at top volume.  Simple, common sense things like that. 

In an aptmosphere of respect, we feel safe.  Feeling safe is the necessary foundation for everything.  When we are respected, and feel safe, we can trust.  We can open up to each other. 

Without opening up to each other, how are real relationships possible?  Without respect, trust, and openness, whom are we relating to?  How can we even reach each other's real self?

Definition courtesy of Google Search
Sexual harassment is the opposite of respect
If we listen to each other's feelings and treat them with respect,  sexual harassment would not happen.  Certainly not sexual violence.  Sexual harassment or violence means disregarding someone's feelings.  It means not caring how they feel, about the most intimate contact possible. 

Sexual harassment and sexual violence can do grave damage to people, including physical disorders and crippling depression.  In young people, it can be related to teen suicide. 

Connection between sexual harassment and sexual violence
Sexual harassment and violence are among negative patterns from the past, which we are struggling to heal.  They're based on a paradigm in which people's sexual choices were not respected.  In which, as some might put it, the only sex which was prohibited was consensual!

Studies have found that where people in charge turn a blind eye to sexual harassment, there is a higher incidence of sexual violence.  So sexual harassment is not "harmless".  When people in charge foster a climate of mutual respect, sexual harassment and violence are less likely to happen, and more likely to be handled with common sense if they do occur.

If you've experienced sexual harassment or violence:
Here's some info that might be helpful:

Consent matters
Many people feel concerned about how to approach normal sexual relations, without fear of being taken the wrong way.  How do you know when you have consent?
If you feel concerned about how to be sure you have consent in sexual contact:

"Tea Consent" video  https://youtu.be/oQbei5JGiT8  (Copyright ©2015 Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios)
(Sexual consent made simple in under 3 minutes: think of it as a cup of tea...)

If you've inflicted sexual harassment or violence on others
Hopefully what you've read so far might persuade you to re-think what you've done.  Presumably, once you decide it's the wrong thing to do, you can stop.

However, many, if not most perpetrators start out as survivors of sexual abuse themselves.  This is how they got the idea it was OK: because it was done to them.  It is often the case with abusers that it happened to them as children. 

If sexually abusing others is a covert way of dealing with the trauma of having been abused as a child, it can become an addiction.  **

A child who is abused feels terror, anger, powerlessness.  The person abusing them seems to have all the power, while they have none.  Later on, this can become a motive for becoming an abuser themselves: it's a way to quiet the terror of powerlessness, and to feel like the "winner", the powerful one, the one whose feelings matter.

If that damage is not healed, it can define and inhibit your sexual life.  If you connect feelings of pain and anger with sexuality, if you can express your sexuality only toward someone who is not willing, who is not listening, then you probably could use some help to sort out what happened to you when your sexual life was beginning. 

You can break the pattern
These patterns rest on a foundation of silence, disrespect, and dishonesty.  That's why it's possible to break them. 

It can begin with a simple mental process.  The moment an abuse survivor recognizes that what happened to them was wrong, they can begin to break free.  When you understand that you deserved respect, and that no one had the right to abuse you, past abuse can begin to lose its hold on your life. 
For adults who were abused as children:


I hope this is helpful in clarifying these sensitive issues for some of my readers.

Whatever we wear, wherever we go
courtesy of livesrunning.wordpress.com

** (Some studies have indicated that, while most perpetrators were abused themselves, only about 20% of those abused do go on to commit abuse.)  

No comments:

Post a Comment