Guide to Handling Rape Proves How Little We've Done to Stop It From Happening

It's better than nothing, I suppose. In response to the overwhelming numbers of Native American girls being raped, an outreach organization is responding to the crisis in a way that should make every American ashamed. They created a handbook for Native girls titled What to Do When You're Raped. When you're raped. Not if, when.


If that doesn't make you angry, it should.

The handbook is billed as an "ABC Handbook for Native Girls" when they're raped and was put out by the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center to give Native American girls some sort of tools to cope and try to heal. One in three Native American girls will report a rape during her lifetime, but incredibly limited access to law enforcement and health care indicate to officials the numbers are far higher than that.

Why are so many of our Native American girls getting raped? Casinos. They attract truckers and drifters and an unseemly element to the reservations, and these girls become easy targets.

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So Native American women did the one thing they always have: use storytelling to pass down their own heartbreaking lessons of dealing with their own assaults.

The handbook offers advice like how to get emergency contraceptives at Walmart for $50.00, and how you'll need a friend with a car and gas money to get there. But also a reminder that they aren't alone.

"You have a community of strong women with you," the handbook says. "And they can help you every step of the way."

Which is where the rest of us come in.

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Women everywhere are starting to talk more openly about the damage sexual assault can do to a girl's life. Pop culture icons like Lady Gaga and Kesha are breaking their silence in the most public ways about their own experiences to let other victims know they're not alone. And as a mother, I can't help but take it personally that we don't seem to be able to do any better by our girls than a handbook on how to start to pick up the shattered pieces of their girlhood if they're raped. Sorry, but that's just not good enough.

As mothers we've got to do a better job talking to our boys and our girls about their sexuality and give them permission and a vocabulary to express themselves about boundaries and consequences of their sexual behavior. It really doesn't matter what your particular feelings or beliefs on the matter are -- just talking about it seems like a great first step to bringing the topic out of the shadows.

As mothers, we've got to vote and insist our daughters are protected by the criminal justice system and our health care systems from sexual assault and predators. When our babies are assaulted, there needs to be every imaginable tool at our disposal to convict these criminals, both to show that these crimes won't be tolerated and to get these people off the streets and away from future victims.

And as mothers, we have to demand that every single one of our daughters is valued. We need to demand that everyone's daughter is protected from harm. Somehow I find it hard to believe girls in a white suburban neighborhood would simply be given a pamphlet in response to a rape epidemic. Every single one of these girls is our daughter, and it's time for us to start acting like it and demanding they are heard.

Enough is enough. And while I support any effort to try to help Native American girls, and their children, recover from a brutal assault, there's just no way a shrug and a handbook on how to deal with their eventual rape is good enough. These girls need health care and protection. And it's up to us to demand they get it with everything we've got.


Images via NativeShop

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