Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Dear Readers,

Imagine you’re in college. NOt only are you in college, but you’re a girl invited to a party. Imagine you find out that all the popular football players are going to be at your party. Now imagine there’s drinking, and then, … oh no, a football player has just cornered you. WHat do you do when he’s on top of you, when he’s penetrating your body with impunity? THis happened to many a Baylor University student, but it also happened to many other students. Colleges have become a hunting ground for predators because of the universities’ ill equipped staff and more recently, the Trump administration, which seems friendlier to predators than the women involved in colleges. College for me would have been a barrier anyway because of disability.

What makes college so unsafe for girls these days? Read the book Violated: Exposing Rape and Sexual Assault at Baylor University, and I honestly forgot the authors’ names. THis book pores over the evidence surrounding the convictions of Tevin Eliot and Sam Ukuachu. But these guys aren’t the only ones accused of rape. Rape allegations have spread everywhere, even my dad’s alma mater is not immune to sexual assault and rape culture. FSU has recently settled with a girl who was assaulted by the famed quarterback Jameis Winston, who is now playing with the pros somewhere. Florida University may have had some problems as well. While I’m not disparraging colleges altogether for rape culture, much has to be changed.

First, girls and women under 21 should be given a no drinking awareness seminar, a sexual assault seminar, and a few other educational things about drugs. In fact, it starts in high school. All girls should be in a separate sex ed class just for them, so they can learn about their changing bodies, changing minds, and sex and pregnancy. No Conservative or Liberal things about it, and transgender females should also be involved. LEt’s also state that disabled females absolutely must take a comprehensive sex education class where contraception is discussed in an unbiased fashion, none of this, sex is for marriage and babies only because some disabled people may not be able to or want to marry or have babies. We all have feelings and desires, but what the Florida State University, Notre Dame, and Baylor University all have in common is a bad best practice for girls and women, all based on Bible Belt principles. Sex is sex sex is still sex even before marriage. Marriage can sometimes complicate legal matters for disabled couples or couples with a disabled spouse in them. So college feeder schools, including the ones in Tallahassee, Waco, and South Bend should be teaching comprehensive pregnancy prevention, rape aggression defense, and ultiimately a drug free environment. Guys should be taught respect, consent, and poise when dealing with girls. I’ve met some nice guys in Tally who were very wise not to mess around with me. Then there were guys who I’m glad I never saw. I never went to Notre dame or Baylor University, but I can say for certain that Notre Dame’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Mainly Mike Pence, and the Catholic teachings state that sex is for marriage and babies, something that is out of reach if I’d stayed in Florida. I’m living in Colorado, independent of my family, and my fiance, who’s listening to weird videos at the moment, respects me, loves me, and we both have been through comprehensive pregnancy prevention checkups. Thankfully, I’ve done some stuff to ensure the birth control prescription continues. Most blind girls don’t get the comprehensive sex ed and instead, they get the Conservative view of sex, which is that it’s dirty, sacred, or both and is for marriage and babies only. Such a viewpoint is no longer acceptable if we’re going to protect a disabled university student.

All disabled female students at all colleges should be given the run down, how to apply condoms, how to do birth control, what’s out there, whatever. I learned that birth control shouldn’t harm a woman’s body chemistry if side effects aren’t present. Doctors should know what they’re talking about, so consulting a gynecologist is the easiest route to ensuring a girl’s safety. She should also be raised in an environment where virginity is not required. I have a good character, let’s face that. Nobody should be judging me by the lack of a hymen. That is important, since many feminist views say so. Christians should never judge a book by its cover, by the same token, never judge a woman or girl by the presence of her hymen. Forget it, huymens break even with rough exercise and tough play, so that’s not a good indicator of virginity anymore. I’m not proud of the fact my flower wasn’t given up on my wedding night but I’m lucky I have an accepting family and fiance who care deeply about my well being, not just a tiny flap of skin between my legs. I want that for my future daughter, and that means she can’t just go to church. Church doesn’t always fix problems in a child, especially that of surviving sexual assault.

The book Violated explores how colleges have dealt with assault in the past and present, but it is available on Bard, Kindle, and I believe Random House. It is narrated by Teres Plumber.

Beth

For Doug Jones

Dear Friends in Alabama,

You guys did the right thing, elected a good man with decency in the Senate seat left vacant by Jeff SEssions. I must say, though, what would the world have looked like for me if Moore was elected? WEll, guys would have been using my daughters, should I have any, for their gratification, instant gratification that would degrade my daughters’ well beings. Trenton would have been made into a slave had he lived in Alabama, and Moore would have probably gotten so bold that he’d have run for President. Alabama showed us that decency will prevail, and that means don’t go trying to screw around with teenagers. To Mr. Jones, let’s show the rest of the states how it’s done. This means women and Democrats all over the board, and nobody allows Trump to tweet that I, Beth Taurasi, am a piece of fake news. You will say that a hurricane is fake news, and then won’t send help in the right places. That’s what Trump will do. So Mr. Jones, please keep Trump in check, and make him stop writing these horrible tweets at Kirsten Gillebrand, and let her do what she wants. Help Congress pass all the necessary protections for Internet neutrality. We want an open and free society, but not run by big corporations. So do your part, Mr. Jones, and you’ll keep your job well in to your old age.

Beth

Another Book About a Cult?: Cyantology

Dear Readers,

Damaging cult groups have existed through the ages, but Cyantology is particularly damaging for children, as author Jenna Miscavitch Hill writes in her memoir. I’m fixing to get through this book and tell you what I’ve learnt about cyantology. Celebrities like Tom Cruz have joined the church, but what does it really do to its members? Communal raising was required of those in the higher order of the church, known as the Sea Org, but I haven’t gotten through the entire book to tell you much more than what Mrs. Hill has gone through. Apparently, Cyantology alienates children and adults from each other, and nobody in the Sea Org is allowed family time as of a certain time. Jenna Hill’s book is available in all formats, including Bard audio, so to you blind people interested, go download or purchase this book. It’s a fascinating look at one of the most famous cults in recent decades.

This book is titled BEyond Belief in the main title and was published in the recent decade of the 2010s, so should be easy to find.

Beth

Sexual Harassment 101 For Women with Disabilities

Dear Readers,

What is sexual harassment? For a woman, it can be pretty intimidating, but it is basically, unwated sexual advances, jokes, comments, etc. Even if they’re made online, sexual harassment is sexual harassment.

I’ve seen some firsthand accounts of women with disabilities who were on the receiving end of the sexual harassment issue, though not by a man of honor or higher power, only by disabled men themselves. There was a man in Georgia everybody knows, and he’s sexually harassed women online, including myself, a friend in South Carolina, and several friends in Texas, Ohio, and possibly some other states like Virginia or Wisconsin. WHo knows how many victims this guy has, and I hate seeing I was one of those. There is a difference between harassment and preying on women, and for us with disabilities, it can be difficult to talk about in conversation.

Sarah, a staunch supporter of women with disabilities, inspired me to write this because she brought up many valid points. Since we women carry the baby in the whole biological scheme of humanity, it is important that women be kept safe, even if cognitive impairment is present. For these women, sexual harassment may be viewed as a predator-prey relationship attempt. However, even cognitively impaired women should be taught the basics of sex and pregnancy and the stages of life and so on. Call it a family life discussion, but women with disabilities are capable of expressing sex, no matter what cognition they possess.

Sarah herself lives alone with her pets, her guide dog included. She’s hard to get through to in some people’s eyes because of past happenings, and I could tell because perhaps she was either sick, not present on my FB page, or chose to unfriend or block me on Facebook due to a comment I posted which has inspired this blog post. I was only trying to add to the conversation and tell her that I as a disabled woman have been on both ends of the spectrum from the accused to the accuser of sexual harassment. My parents accused a friend of mine of sexual harassment, and he was 51, which was scary. I get it, some people could forbid young people from hanging out with older people. However, this friendship was not sexual in nature, and it served my parents well in their guardianship case, though no longer valid.

As a disabled woman, the difference between sexual preying on and sexual harassment could be no more distinct. As a woman, I expect men to leave my baby making tools alone because I’ve already got someone. I expect the men in the world to keep their hands off, and putting their hands on me between my legs, below the waist, etc., that could be classified as sexual harassment. Groping is a form of harassment, plain and simple. I’m also very serious because of experience. I’ve never been raped, and I’ve seen eyewitness accounts of such, but sexual preying on to me is when the woman is purely violated beyond belief. IN this case, the man will have used grooming, a technique in which isolation, secrecy, and finally, unwanted intercourse or groping of sexual spare parts, is used to silence and denigrade the woman, especially if she has a disability. Grooming can occur if the balance of power is off by a lot, especially if an intellectually able man is groping a woman with Down’s in the case of Law and Order Special Victims Unit’s Katie Talbert. She was taken advantage of by her boss, an able guy who later needed to pay her back, and had to anyway because he was sleeping with Katie and other intellectually disabled women in his store. He operated this outfit for his own benefit, and groomed the girls to secrecy, and to the detriment of Katie’s mom, got her pregnant. However, blindness is not an intellectual disability, it is a physically known disability that does not affect the balance of power between sexual partners. There are many times disabled women don’t feel safe in ridesharing situations with men, and some Uber drivers have been convicted of either burglary or sexual harassment, which can make any woman, able or not, feel uneasy. When a woman is not able to drive, however, she can easily be preyed upon or harassed by a man if she doesn’t have the solutions and tools to stop it.

So how do you stop sexual preying upon or harassment from happening if you’re a lady? Men also experience this, but since women have a much more painful consequence, forgive me but that is who I usually address first. First, rape aggression defense classes for girls 12 and older are offered by local police officials in their respective departments. Officers teach girls things like how to keep a boundary bubble around them, when and how to gauge comfort with a stranger standing in said bubble, how to defend themselves in cases of rape or being touched in an unwanted way. Women and girls 12 and up are welcome to take the classes, and some small organizations like the Denver Muslim community or the Tallahassee Florida Catholic Student Union have offered ladies’ self defense classes, but what about including women with disabilities? Blind women should especially try reading the book Safe Without Sight, which was written years ago, but still has many valid points and debunks many myths and facts about rape. I took the Hadley self defense class, but never got the physical practice doing it. One RAD trick I was told would work is if I had a key, which I happened to own two keys for my dwelling, I would take said key or keys and stab the attacker in the eye. Combined with a technique recommended in self defense class called holding the universal reference point, located between neck and head on either shoulder, I may be able to execute a strong blow to a guy whose intent is to violate me. THat is, of course, a last resort. We were also taught parries and thrusts and punches and how to scream at every move we made. Our voices are the most powerful weapon we possess, and if a woman screams loud enough, a man might just have to run for his life. There’s many tricks that ancient Somali women have played on men before, stuff that involves a squeeze to the groin, which is another self defense technique. WHen a man’s groin is squeezed, he gets into a lot of pain and faints. Again, a last resort. The very first line of defense we learn in RAD or any self defense course, able or not, is setting boundaries and using safety tricks and tips that can potentially keep our baby makers clear of any unwanted guests.

The best line of defense, especially for a woman who is cognitively disabled, is to be sure that her care professionals are female with very few exceptions. IF a woman must be lifted by, say, a power lifter, a man may be hired, but not to do things like dressing and bathing a woman. Females are generally care driven beings, believe me I’m one of those. Women can use this role to care for others, to serve as many different things in many different capacities, but should be caring for females in positions where bathing, dressing, and medicating are required. I’ve seen a male ER nurse before, Bill, a guy from Parrish Medical Centre, but he was great. Bill gave me a shot of adavan, an IV drug that subdued my seizure in 2007. However, he did not have to see me undressed, and that’s where my boundaries are ccrossed. No male nurse should be bathing or showering a female with a disability, cogniscent or not. Even if the woman has an aggressive form of MS, and if she can’t speak in words, guys should never be left alone with her. Here’s another SVU scenario: a disabled lady is found beaten up and bloodied in a dress, an adult diaper beneath it. She is totally paralyzed, can’t move, can only blink or groan, etc. HEr sister beats her and steals her money. A male bus driver is later found to be raping her, and thinks she is comfortable with it because she didn’t say anything. THis is preying upon. Just because a woman with a cognitive or physical disability doesn’t say anything doesn’t mean it’s okay for a male caregiver or professional to do whatever with her. And the sad thing is that family in this vignette can’t care for her because her sister is aggressive with her, but as long as there is blood attachment such as a nephew in the case of the woman in SVU, a male caregiver may be assigned. However, as a precaution, the male should NEVER under any circumstance look at her undressed. A female nurse may be hired, and with good background, to change, feed, or bathe said member of the family.

Sexual advances on females with disabilities could lead to tragedy as well. I remember one woman who was probably the victim of sexual abuse by her own family, as another friend described. This woman, Kelly M. Bond, died of an apparent misuse of her medications. The family should have known better than to make illicit advances and devalue her or denigrade her character. Kelly is now in Heaven with God, where the pain can no longer be felt, and she shed her disabled body in the worst possible way, but as God always does, he delivered her.

So what should be done with a disabled female who has no cognitive skills to tell you she’s been abused? By taking the precautions in the previous paragraph, I feel about 80% of that risk can be diminished. However, a bus driver can still have access to handicapped women. One can tell when even the most cognitively disabled lady has been violated. For example, in the previous vignette, the police found a girl who cringed at the picture of the rapist. SHe saw the suspect’s photo and made a sound like she wanted help or like an anxious puppy wanting to get away from an abusive master. That’s a clue that she could have been denigraded or violated, even if the lady can’t speak for herself. In Katie’s case, she knew something weird was going on, and was high functioning. She worked at a grocery store, a boss taking advantage of her. HEr mom forbade her from taking dating and sex ed classes, and she was later abandoned by her mother, but not without the help of SVU detectives. Katie was found to be carrying a baby son, but would she be able to understand what is happening to her? HEr mother successfully hid all the knowledge Katie must need for her to understand sex and pregnancy. When I was young, my parents hid a book around the house, Asking About Sex and Growing Up. They wanted to show me stuff, sure, but they decided to let me read a good book by the author and creator of the Magic Schoolbus series. Joanna Cole also had a bunch of resources for books and videos geared toward kids and adults alike. Sex and pregnancy are important subjects that ALL kids, whether disabled or not, should be talking about. FAmily life discussions can happen anywhere, and I suggest having a good private discussion with a disabled child especially with a qualified female healthcare educator. If I have a daughter with disabilities, and she’s thirteen, for instance, I’m going to give her “The Talk”, as Mia would call it in the Princess Diaries series. So what if Mia and Tina decide on this, and what if the matter is beneath me, I still need to know how to do this. Even if my child is blind, I’m still going to tell her what the period feels like, what pregnancy can do, how to put on a pad, what to do if a boy approaches you inappropriately, what is inappropriate touch, etc. Women with disabilities are often left out of the conversation because we are devalued, but if we didn’t have ovaries, we couldn’t  be pregnant. That would mean we could still do something, but with no results. However, about 90%, factoring in those who had ovarian issues or cancer, can get pregnant. We don’t have freemartins, as in Brave New World’s view of the factory assembly of a person. We have just about every female as a fertile female, so I’m assuming about 90% of young women have able ovaries. PCOS women should always consult a doctor before going on drugs to calm the cysts in their ovaries, but there is a growing number of those women who are having children, but that is a story for another day.

Women with the more physical disabilities can have sexual desires, so why are men taking advantage of this? IF a girl asks, why is he making eyes at me?, why not explain not that he “likes” her, but that she has to feel safe in order for him to actually “like” her. Even if my future daughter had no disability, I would still do “the Talk”, keep your baby maker out of the way of the boys, don’t let them do a thing down there, and don’t show your breasts or buttocks in public period. Then, I would apply the necessaries: how to put on a pad, and if a boyfriend should show up at my house, I’m going to say the three words he may hate, but may save me from being Grandma too early: use a condom. Use a condom or I’m putting this girl on the Pill. I happen to think of the Pill as a lifeline, a safety net and not an excuse to make taxpayers pay for sex as Rush likes to emphatically joke. It is awful, absolutely awful, when a woman with a disability is totally left out of the conversation of sexual stuff because we are the very pinnacle of relationships, we carry the good and the bad guys in to this dirty planetary mess, so why aren’t we being given better status?

The answer is something Dr. George Wong would say in SVU, because so many of us are devalued. Dr. Wong tells the detectives why the sister was aggressive with the paralyzed lady, and the sister made excuses for hitting the lady with soap. Dr. wong saw the same pattern of abuse in the suspected rapist, who said he felt sorry, so preyed on the porr woman with what could have been a deadly weapon.

SHeltering doesn’t cure the disabled’s being prone to being sexually joked about. Believe me, I know firsthand. The best proposed solutions for keeping women with disabilities involved involves the knowledge of sex, pregnancy, and prevention.

Sarah, I hope this doesn’t ramble down Memory Lane too much, but see where I stand.