Hope Project Newsletter - Together Let's End Sexual Violence: Halloween - My Dress is Not a Yes

TOGETHER LET’S END SEXUAL VIOLENCE // THERE IS HELP & THERE IS HOPE //    OCT. 2017

What’s new this month for Hope Project?

Hope Project is starting a free and confidential support group for adult survivors of sexual assault and abuse. This is a 12 week group where participants will learn healthy coping skills while connecting with other survivors in a safe space. Group begins Wednesday October 18th and is from 5:30pm to 7pm. To sign up, contact Stacey at 360-353-5777 ext. 20 or staceys@esshelter.com

HALLOWEEN – MY DRESS IS NOT A YES

When you think about Halloween, what comes to mind? Candy? Parties? Cute and/or scary Halloween costumes? 

Halloween is a time to dress up, get creative, eat more candy than you're used to and to be someone else for a night. Whether it's dressing up as Elsa from Frozen, Batman or Wonder Woman, there are a variety of different masks to wear and characters to choose from. Let's remember one important fact though: a dress is not a yes. Just go ahead and repeat that: a dress is not a yes. Clothing is not an indicator of consent and you should not confuse someone's choice in clothing as someone looking for sex. 

On Halloween, we ditch our jeans and sweatshirts and trade them in for super hero capes, knee high boots and maybe even leather onesies, (you go Cat Woman!). None of these are an invitation for sex - they are simply a costume. Nothing more. So why are we still asking survivors of sexual assault "What did you think was going to happen when you were dressed like that?" 

Clothing is not an indicator of consent. People are sexually assaulted in a variety of clothing, because rape is not about lust or sexual desire. Rape is about power and control. Blaming someone because of their clothing choice or behavior throws shame around like confetti, leaving survivors more vulnerable to the power that the perpetrator was trying to take. On Halloween, some people are tempted to think that a revealing outfit is an invitation for sex. People decide what to wear based on how it makes them feel. For example, a woman may wear a lacy dress because it makes her feel confident, not because she is "looking for it". Consent should never be assumed. Someone's clothing is not an invitation for you to touch them, violate their boundaries, or make crude remarks about their body. 

When we place the blame on the survivor, blaming them because of the clothing they wore or the amount of alcohol that they drank, we are justifying the perpetrators actions. Essentially, blaming a survivor is telling them that what the perpetrator did was okay. Sexual assault is never okay. Instead, provide compassion and support. Tell survivors it wasn't their fault and support them in their healing process. Don't unintentionally justify sexual assaults. 

If you feel like dressing up as a super hero this Halloween, try exercising your power of being an active bystander! If you notice someone receiving unwanted sexual attention, step in and say something. Pull the other person aside and ask if you can help them in any way. If you go to a party or a bar on Halloween, offer to pay for a cab ride home if you see someone who is heavily intoxicated. And if you see anyone try to put something in someone's drink, say something and call the police. Do not tolerate this behavior!

Have a safe and fun Halloween! 

Want to learn more about victim blaming and how to support a survivor? Reach out to us!

Hope Project provides free trainings about sexual assault, how to respond after a disclosure, rape culture and much more. We have presented to high schools and community colleges, businesses, organizations and are happy to speak to parents about how they can keep their teenagers safe and informed. For more information, contact Stacey at 360-353-5777 ext. 20 or email at staceys@esshelter.com