Sexual Assault Awareness Month & What Helped Me As A Survivor

Pink Mercury literally translates to love messages. My work comes from my experiences as a rape crisis counselor, burlesque dancer, and sexual assault survivor. I want to give to my audience the jewels of my self-discovery and the work I have done as an individual.

People don’t like talking about sexual assault. It is often approached as a victim’s phenomena, and so much emphasis is put on the prevention from a victim’s standpoint. That does very little in a society that continues to produce perpetuators/predators. My work is to reverse that, to call into question the systems that manufacture rape culture and return victims back to their bodies. Why should they live in shame for someone's choice to disrespect their bodies? Once someone's space has been sexually violated it is a process to come back and to come back to love. The impetus for my work as a movement coach is my work as a rape crisis counselor and my own journey as a femme living in this society.

Why should they live in shame for someone's choice to disrespect their bodies?

What is consent?

Consent must be given freely and it can be revoked at any time. Consent is more than a yes or no. It is a conversation about desires, needs, and comfort. Often times sexual abuse occurs in even the most intimate relationships like marriages because people are not accustomed to negotiating their needs in the bedroom. In a study by Planned Parenthood, it was found that most people in the U.S. have little to no education on consent.

Victims often know the person who sexually assaulted them

People who sexually abuse usually target someone they know.

  • Nearly three out of four adolescents (74%) who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.

  • One-fifth (21.1%) were committed by a family member.

Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Rape Differentiated

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is mostly used to describe sexual behavior against children, not adults.

All 50 states recognize that children are not capable of giving consent to any sexual act. The age of consent ranges from 16 to 18 years in the U.S. Sexual abuse can include touching a victim in a sexual manner, forcing a victim to touch the perpetrator, making a victim look at body parts or watch sexual activity. Sexual abuse of a child is considered a criminal act.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment relates to sexual coercion, referring to any attempt to make work/school conditions contingent upon cooperation. This is the most stereotypical form of unwanted sexual advances, but the rarest. Unwelcome behavior is the keyword. Unwelcome does not mean it's voluntary or even if a victim agrees to the act. A victim may consent and actively participate in an act even though it is offensive.

A more common form of sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention: unwanted touching, hugging, stroking, kissing, relentless pressure or sexual behavior. Unwanted sexual attention can include sexual assault and even rape.

Sexual assault

In contrast to sexual harassment, sexual assault can describe unwanted acts that are sexual in nature that take place in any location. Sexual assault overlaps with rape because the term includes rape.

Sexual harassment and Sexual assault can include:

Unwanted pressure for sexual favors.

Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching.

Unwanted sexual looks or gestures.

Unwanted letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature.

Unwanted pressure for dates.

Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions.

Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey.

Whistling at someone.

Cat calls.

Sexual comments.

Turning work discussions to sexual topics.

Sexual innuendos or stories.

Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history.

Personal questions about social or sexual life.

Sexual comments about a person's clothing, anatomy, or looks.

Kissing sounds, howling, and smacking lips.

Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person's personal sex life.

Neck massage.

Touching a person's clothing, hair, or body.

Giving personal gifts.

Hanging around a person.

Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking.

Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person.

Standing close or brushing up against a person.

Looking a person up and down (elevator eyes).

Staring at someone.

Sexually suggestive signals.

Facial expressions, winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips.

Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements.

Sexual Violence

Social and behavioral scientists often use the term “sexual violence", which is broader than sexual assault. It include acts that are not coded in law as criminal. Many of the acts listed above fall under the umbrella of sexual violence.