Cn: talk of consent, bodily autonomy, use of physical force to defend oneself
We went to the playground today and while TJ was playing, mami I and were talking about #metoo and the culture of hiding predators in Hispanic communities because “we don’t air our dirty laundry”. And as TJ played with a classmate, an older boy kept dumping water on their heads. TJ asked him to stop. He didn’t listen. She slapped the boy. The boy slapped TJ.
TJ came to me crying. She was already soaked from before but the difference was that she had chosen to get wet. So I reminded her that just because she was wet did not mean the boy had any right to wet her especially when she had repeatedly said “no” and “stop”. TJ was upset because “when someone says no you have to respect that. I got so angry because the boy kept doing it”. I told TJ that if he did it again she had my full permission to take him down. He wet them again, I went to him and I told him to stop. And he said TJ started it and that she “was acting innocent” but really she wasn’t.
This is victim blaming and shaming and it starts young. This had nothing to do with sex but consent isn’t only about sex. If children aren’t taught to respect consent and boundaries then we end up with predators and victims and then we blame the victim and continue to cover for the predator.
That enabling and covering up of abuse is a common thing in Hispanic communities. Calling it out gets you in trouble because it’s said to “cause drama”. We’re told we should not talk about it because it’s airing dirty laundry. That stops with my family. I need to call out any instance of abuse I see, even if it is within my own family, especially so because it is often families that teach that ugly lesson; that you have no autonomy. I need to make sure TJ knows how to spot abusive actions and call them out.
It doesn’t matter what the victim was wearing or where they were or if they had consented to the thing, whatever it may be, before. Consent is something that needs to be continually checked.
If I hadn’t been there to defend TJ, or if I had told her that she deserved it because she was already wet -so it didn’t matter- then I would essentially be setting them up to be easier targets for predators.
And no that doesn’t mean that she deserves the abuse. Abuse is never the victims’ fault. But I will do everything I can to empower her and she’ll know I have her back, no matter what happens.