A Local Survivor Shares Their Story & Asks for Your Help

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We received an ad for volunteers from the creator of the Salt City Consent Squad, a new local group promoting explicit consent, boundaries, and communication. The group is tabling at the Utah Pride Festival, and they need volunteers. They describe volunteer duties thusly:

Our goal for this event is to pass out educational materials and start the kind of conversations that spur people to take action against sexual violence, whether that’s developing better boundaries in their own relationships, speaking against rapists they know, or realizing that what someone else did to them wasn’t their fault and wasn’t okay. We also want to recruit members for our main mission: Going out and having fun while wearing visual messages (like t-shirts and buttons) promoting consent. We want to get these messages into the cultural consciousness and create a social network for survivors. 

Contact the website’s creator here for more information on volunteering.  Below you will find the origin story of the project.

*Trigger Warning*

His kisses and the weight of his body pressing against me weren’t hot anymore. They just hurt. If you’re not a trauma survivor I don’t know if I can explain why touch like that would be so painful. I tried pushing him away, but he took it as a sign of enthusiasm. He was a manual laborer, over half a foot taller than me. I’m a 110-lb code monkey.

Replay this scene ad nauseum with different men, and a woman or two. Two different guys went down on me after I told them I didn’t like it, that it was boring. I lay there unable to put up anymore resistance, but the memory stuck in my body and hit me with overwhelming nausea in the following days, both times. A friend tried to penetrate me right after I told her she couldn’t. She stopped when I pointed out that was rape. I pushed the memory out of my mind because I couldn’t cope with it.

Last fall, a sexually abusive boyfriend raped me, and as I put the pieces of my mind back together, I couldn’t blame myself anymore. I couldn’t keep saying that what they did was okay, that there was something wrong with me for being traumatized.

When I’m stressed out, I might go mute or lose the ability to move. This was especially bad for a few years when I was a teenager, when I accumulated most of my sexual trauma. Of course I only developed this disorder after a childhood of suffering and powerlessness. Helplessness can nest inside a person. Just because someone isn’t screaming “No!” or clawing your eyes out doesn’t mean you have consent. And if they are, you need to stop.

I can’t undo my trauma, but I will not be silent while similar abuse happens over and over to people I love.

My message is simple: Always make sure your partner is choosing sexual contact. Ask before starting something. Talk to them about their sexual boundaries, wants, thoughts, questions. Listen to their verbal and nonverbal “no”s.

I want to prevent sexual abuse by exposing more people to this message, by making it even more natural and mainstream than ignoring boundaries in dating currently is. I want to validate survivors’ pain and give them a chance to socialize normally as survivors, instead of being smothered by the weight of a painful secret. I want everyone else to get used to us being here, refusing to be silent. I got out of my relationship with the rapist last fall in part because I knew one woman who would support me, one woman who wouldn’t deny the rape, one woman who cared.

One voice can make the difference.

That’s why I’m starting Salt City Consent Squad, for survivors and allies to go out and have fun while wearing the message of consent. Every single one of us matters. Let’s celebrate that.

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