Understanding Trauma & Violence


What are ways women can protect themselves against female abuse?


Thank you for this question. To start, we think it is important to say up front that abuse is never a woman's fault. Therefore no matter what behavior modifications women make, they still may experience abuse. Because we cannot control the actions of others. Because violence against women is systemic. Because sexual assault is never due to the actions of the survivor, but due to the actions of the perpetrator. 

Most of us have heard of the classic things women do to keep themselves safe. For example: 1) walk home with a buddy, 2) keep your eyes on your drink when you are out in public, 3) check in on your friends and make sure they are safe, etc. But we know these things alone do not prevent sexual harm. And we know that just because you don't do these things do not mean you deserve to be assaulted.

One of the most evidence-based ways women can learn to protect themselves from sexual harm is to learn assertive communication skills. In many cultures, women have been socialized to be kind and accomodating to men, and it can be difficult to set boundaries or express when you do not feel comfortable  socically or sexually. We must raise women who understand the value of their bodies. We must teach at a young age that consent is important. And it is better to recognize when you feel uncomfortable and act on it rather than being "nice." In order to do this, however, we need to create supportive communities where women feel empowered to stand up for themselves. Because in many cultures, it may not be safe for women to set boundaries and say no to men. 

All in all, the biggest take home message is that if you were sexually assaulted, release that guilt and shame. You cannot control the actions of others. It was not your fault. But you do deserve love and respect. Your safety and comfort is more important than hurting someone's feelings. Know that you can still claim space in the future and set limits on what people can and cannot do to your body. You matter.

Safety Exit