What I Want My Young Sisters To Know…

(tw: rape – roast busters)

Amidst the anger, shock, sadness – essentially all the feelings possible to associate with in light of the growing ‘Roast Busters’ scandal I’ve found myself increasingly dwelling on what the actions of those young men would have meant to me as a young teenage girl. I keep thinking, if I wasn’t so lucky, I could have been one of those girls. I’ve been that girl, too drunk to know where she is at a party full of strangers. I was that girl who was drunk enough to draw the attention of some young men, but I was also the girl who was looked after, fed water and bread until I was capable of seeing clearly. I was lucky.

And I hate that I should have to think of myself as lucky.

Now I’m 22 with two young sisters, one is 12 and one is 8. With their teenage years quickly approaching it terrifies me to think of all the situations that they might end up in and I keep hearing, ‘We need to teach our young boys not to rape.’ Which is true, so true, but I also want my sisters to be equipped with knowledge of their own rights, to have a clear idea of what the world is like and to be able to protect themselves, should god forbid they ever run into young men like the ones we’ve heard so much of this week.

This isn’t about scaring them into being nice little girls who don’t drink and who dress sensibly. This is about letting them know exactly what’s up. Because at the end of the day, the only person who can truly look after them is themselves.

Miss 8 may be a bit young to hear this, but at only a year younger than the Roast Buster victims I want Miss 12 to know at the very least…

You own your own body…
This may seem obvious but don’t let anyone else dictate how your own body is treated unless you give them permission. If they have a problem with that, they’re not worthy of your presence. Never do anything with a guy unless you enthusiastically want to.

Clearly let guys know what you’re okay/ not okay with.

Rape is not a joke…
 It is never okay, it is never a girls fault, a girl can never ‘ask for it.’ This one took me a long time to understand. In my group of close friends rape was like a mythical fairy which because it sounded ‘dangerous’ made it a prime candidate for ‘in jokes.’ Rape is not a joke. It is a serious crime. If anyone you know is ever raped, show them love and compassion, don’t join the catty gossip mill.

Remember rape = sex without consent (and you can not give consent if you are drunk or under age).

I want to repeat, no one ever asks to be raped. 

Look after your friends…
On reflection, my girl friends never looked after me on the occasions where I had drunk too much and passed out. If a guy is being skeezy to your friend, make sure that they are explicitly okay with it. If they are drunk, stick with them, look after them. Be there for each other.

Also look after yourself…
You’ve experienced what it’s like to walk down Queen St on a Saturday night. At twelve you’ve already experienced grown men hurling sexual comments at you on the street. People suck. Don’t let the awful ones ruin your happiness (but also please try to avoid obviously crap situations.) (AND CHARGE YOUR DAMN PHONE KID).

You will probably know…
When you don’t feel comfortable in someone’s company. If someone’s vibe is giving you the heebie jeebies then trust your instincts and leave their presence.

If you ever need rescuing…
I am only a phone call or text away. NEVER feel too embarrassed or scared to ask for help. Being a teenager means you get into stupid situations, I will not judge you. If anything bad happens then do not be afraid to speak out. If someone does something awful to you (even/ especially if it is someone who you thought you could trust), it is not your fault. Do not succumb to threats or peer pressure. I will support you no matter what. (And incidentally Mum and Dad are pretty cool when you need them too).

I hope that my little sister doesn’t have to use this advice for a long time. To me, she is still a kid, but as we keep hearing, 13 seemed to be a lucky (maybe not so lucky now) number for those sick animals. This list is by no means complete, but if I was a teenager again this is what would have been relevant to me.

Knowledge is power. 

And as a final really awful side note. I’ve read a lot of criminal rape files. It is really hard to have good physical evidence. If, god forbid you are ever raped then the rapist’s ejaculate is your prime piece of evidence. Get it on your clothes, give those clothes straight to the police. Also keep in mind that showers and time destroy what ever physical evidence there may be on your body. I know that this is not an option for many victims of rape, I know that the justice system does a crap job when it comes to sexual violence but if you’re after a prosecution, it’s the best advice I have. Don’t let the bastards get away with it.

About madicattt

Curator of The Things That Are Good. Sharing the things that stand out in the worlds of theatre, food, beauty and style.
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11 Responses to What I Want My Young Sisters To Know…

  1. Great post Madi! I’m a rape survivor and I worked in sexual assault care for a long time, so I’m all too familiar with the horrible things we’ve been hearing about this week. I really hope that your sisters never ever find themselves in a situation when they will have to remember this information.

    Thanks for being one of the great women who speak out against New Zealand’s rape culture.

  2. Ajay Vagha says:

    Wow. This is gold. As a father of 13 & 15 yr old girls I have been toiling over how to broach this subject without seeming ‘macho’ and too harsh. Your post which a friend passed on to me, will be the basis of my discussion. Thank you so much….you definately making a lot of girls so much safer…

    • madicattt says:

      Thank you, I’m glad that this is actually helpful. I think the key is to make sure they’re comfortable to be open with you when they need you.

      • Ajay Vagha says:

        Yes – you’re are spot on there, forming the habit of regular chats and dialogue mixed with remembering not to lose your cool if/when they muck up – that’s the secret of always being approachable. Thanks again.

      • madicattt says:

        You sound like a great Dad. No worries!

  3. anon says:

    This is something I wish I’d read when I was twelve years old. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn any of this until I was 18 and had been forced to learn from experience, repeatedly. I hope your sisters grow up in a better world than I, and their lucky to have you.

    I just also want to stress how so many people point to criminal prosecution as the one right way of dealing. This was extremely harmful to me when I grew up and started talking about my experiences, because every other person was, “why didn’t you just report it”, and, my personal favourite; “do you know how many other people could have been hurt because you didn’t report it?”

    Our criminal justice system is a racist, classist, patriarchal tool and has never been something I believed in. We need more options, as survivors, for protection, and justice.

    Thank you again for your article, and for caring!

    • madicattt says:

      Yes you are totally right about prosecution. For me it’s only a focus because I work in a criminal law firm and are consistently devastated to read that girls don’t get the justice they deserve because of insufficient evidence. Everything about the way we deal with rape is lacking sadly :(

  4. Curly Miri says:

    Your post made me think of this: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Great read, thank you.

  5. "Frank Jackson" says:

    This problem is rife in New Zealand. Authorities go to extraordinary lengths to cover up under age sex crimes committed by child sex gangs. Our 14-year old daughter was also victim of a gang like this in Auckland. NZ authorities gagged us (parents) and our two sons in order to keep us quiet. The NZ Head of State gave the sex gang members medals.

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