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April 4, 2023 33 mins

Brooke sits down with Dr. Nicole Bedera, a sociologist and leading researcher on sexual violence, to talk about the pervasiveness and danger of normalizing traumatic experiences. Brooke opens up about her own sexual assault and shares why she struggled to come forward. Then, Dr. Bedera debunks some of the biggest myths surrounding rape culture and shares what you can do to support survivors.

Resources:
https://www.rainn.org/
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/resources.html
https://www.nicolebedera.com/

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:04):
What do you do when life doesn't go according to
plan that moment you lose a job, or a loved one,
or even a piece of yourself. I'm Brookshields and this
is now What, a podcast about pivotal moments as told
by people who lived them. Each week, I sit down
with a guest to talk about the times they were
knocked off course and what they did to move forward.

(00:27):
Some stories are funny, others are gut wrenching, but all
are unapologetically human and remind us that every success and
every setback is accompanied by a choice, and that choice
answers one question, now, what sexual assault is an amous communication?

(00:51):
There's been research indicating that for decades. It's very very
clear sexual assault happens with the knowledge of a perpetrator.
People do not commit rape by accident, and so to
some degree, this education on no means no. It is
kind of missing the point because people understand already, and
what's more likely to happen is the perpetrators dismiss a

(01:13):
no as unimportant or being COI right. The no means yes,
you know, oh no, and be shy and coy about
you know about it when you are in fact uncomfortable
and shy and right perpetrators are just looking for a
way that they can rationalize, but they no means yes,
if they get in trouble, that's a more accurate description

(01:34):
of what they're thinking. Right, and so coyness is one
of those examples to say, oh, she didn't mean it,
she was just being blurty. But not only works because
we let it work. Right. If we stop letting that
rationalization work, it goes away. My guest today is doctor
Nicole Badera. Doctor Berdera is a sociologist, an author, and
a leading researcher on sexual violence, it's causes, its lasting

(01:59):
impact on sir fivers, and what we can all do
to begin to address the problem. Our conversation was a
personal one. I was first introduced to her work after
I shared my personal experience with sexual assault in the
Hulu documentary Pretty Baby, and I found myself turning to
her to continue to help me make sense of my

(02:20):
own trauma. I am so grateful for the research that
women like her do to illuminate the pervasiveness of this issue.
They really do remind us all that it doesn't have
to be this way. Speaking openly about sexual violence takes courage,
it took me years to do so, and healing, i
have to say, is a lifelong process. But our stories,

(02:43):
they all have value. They allow us to take up space,
heal and hopefully set the stage for a safer future.
So here is doctor Nicole Badera. I have to just
say that your insight really helped me so much how
to share my story and how to continuously deal with

(03:05):
some of my more personal feelings about my journey. So
to give listeners just a little bit of context, would
you tell them who you are and what you do? Yeah,
thank you so much for having me on. I'm a sociologist.
I've been studying sexual violence for the better part of
a decade, especially how organizations and our friends and family members,

(03:27):
the people that were around in society can make it
seem normal when really sexual violence is very traumatic and
it shouldn't be normal in our society. And these days,
I've been dedicating as much of my time as possible
to putting that research into action and helping people find
the power that they do have and use it to
end sexual violence. Well, it's very very important work, and

(03:49):
doing this documentary was obviously it entailed a great deal,
but it was the first time I ever spoke publicly,
you know, about my experience, and as I say it,
I'm interested that I say my experience because I still
find it hard to say my experience with sexual assault

(04:11):
or my experience with rape. That's a really common experience.
A lot of survivors are uncomfortable with words like rape
or sexual assault, and part of that has to do
with we've gotten a lot of misinformation for I mean
really all of American history about what sexual assault is.
For example, most of us were taught that it's a

(04:32):
stranger jumping out of the bushes, which is actually a
racialized myth that was used to justify lynching, and it
has absolutely no connection to what sexual assault looks like.
The most sexual assault is perpetrated by people we know
and trust who just treated us differently. Usually perpetrators are
people that we never expected would treat us that way,
and that can make it really hard for a lot

(04:52):
of survivors to recognize their experience as violent and as traumatic,
and it leads a lot of people to blame themselves.
Can you talk about the word violence, what that can
look like? Yeah. Absolutely. When we think about sexual assault,
most people think about it as having sex you don't
want to have, which is one piece. The more accurate

(05:12):
definition is losing control over your own body, losing autonomy,
and that can happen in a lot of different ways.
One of the ones that people don't know very much
about is through coercion. So for example, if a perpetrator
uses their position of power to get you to agree
to do something that you wouldn't have otherwise, if they're
maybe suggesting you might get a job if you perform

(05:35):
a sexual act, or even smaller things like if they
bring you into a place that you're not familiar with
and you don't know how to leave that building without
someone escorting you out, and they make it seem like
they're not going to let you leave until after you
have done what they want you to do. That's something
I hear a lot of my work is on college campuses,
and you hear that with dorms a lot a sense
of I actually can't leave this dorm unless someone has

(05:58):
a key card to let me out, and seemed like
the fastest way out was to do what they wanted.
And in those scenarios, it's kind of what you're describing
where people say, you know it was violent, but it
wasn't what I thought violence would feel like. It's hard
to interpret the situation, but the violence, it may not
seem violent because you're not being punched or something is

(06:20):
that's what we learned, or your hands aren't necessarily tied
or whatever we've been told, But the violation is still there.
And I think that that's where I definitely struggled is
admitting that it was a violation. So how do you
help people recognize what happened is in fact violation if

(06:42):
they don't scream No. One of the ways I do
that in my work is to just think about what
was the impact of that interaction on you. If you
did have enough control to just be able to walk,
you know, stand up and walk out of a room,
then you wouldn't have experienced that loss of autonomy and
you wouldn't experience the trauma that comes with that. And
so often it can be identifying those traumatic symptoms if

(07:04):
I'm now more anxious, I'm not comfortable around this person
in the way I used to be anymore. Something that
comes up a lot for a traumatic symptom is changes
in memory or being able to access memories differently, not
not having complete control over remembering what happened, maybe dissociating
in the moment, so recognizing some of those traumatic symptoms
to say, regardless of how you wanted to believe you

(07:26):
would react, your body is reacting in such a way
that it's in fight, flight or freeze mode, which a
lot of people don't know. That's the most common way
women react as sexual assault is just to freeze and
lose the ability to fight back or to stand up
and walk out of a room. And recognizing that your
body is reacting that way can help you understand, Oh,
that actually was upsetting to me, That actually was traumatic

(07:47):
for me. And the fight or freeze instead of fight
or flight, you don't have the ability to flight, to fly, No,
you're totally frozen, and that can lead a lot of
survivors to self blame, to say why did I stay?
Why didn't I get up and leave? I once interviewed
a survivor who assumes that she must have had way
more to drink than she thought, because she said, I

(08:07):
always thought I would have been someone who would have
fought back. You don't think about it. You think of
yourself as being inept or weak, or somehow not capable
of taking care of yourself, and you know, I think
people do focus a lot on the emotional effects, but
there's tremendous physical effects, which I think is so interesting

(08:28):
because I don't even think I connected with that. I
was too busy blaming myself. But can you talk about
some of those more physical effects. Yeah, So in the moment,
like we've been kind of talking around, the most common
response for specifically women, queer and transurvivors is to freeze,
is to lose the ability to respond until the act

(08:49):
of violence is over. And then during that period of time,
since your body is having a trauma response, it's going
to do things like store memories differently, so you might
not have a clear memory of what happened, or you
might have to restore those memories in a different way.
For a lot of victim's sense of smell will be heightened.
Specific really tactile memories will be the things that will

(09:11):
be easier to access than the type of sort of
linear storytelling memories that we're more used to using. And
then in the aftermath, we hear a lot about stories
of this sort of PTSD response where you might have
triggers or flashbacks where all of a sudden you're feeling
all of those same feelings, and they can come from anything.
They can come from you know, if a perpetrator was

(09:32):
chewing a certain type of gum and you smell that
type of gum, that might be when you have one
of those flashbacks or triggers. But there are a lot
of other reactions to anxiety and depression, a lot of
again those same physical reactions where you might have difficulties
storing memories or understanding what's happening around you, being able
to take in a lot of complex and overwhelming stimuli.

(09:54):
So it is the physical manifestations are confusing, and I
think it can make really hard for survivors, especially if
they identify a strong, capable, independent women, to recognize what
happened to them is violent, because they say, oh, that
version of me that was happening in the moment, I
don't even know who that is. Well, there's different things
at stake. You talk a lot about the victim shaming,

(10:18):
or the threat of the loss of a job, or
the threat of what would have been cancelation back in
the day if you actually confront it, Can you talk
a little bit about that? Yeah, I mean you're talking
about all the kinds of things that survivors are nervous about.
For example, if you are a college student and your

(10:38):
perpetrator is in classes with you, they're in your same major,
confronting the violence can make you have a lot of
really scary decisions ahead of you, like do I need
to drop out of school? Do I need to get
out of this class? And that has to do not
with the survivor, but because of our social responses that
our universities don't have the resources available, don't even have

(11:00):
a way to remove a perpetrator from an individual class
so that a survivor can continue their education. It's the
same thing in a workplace. But one of the percentages
of times that the perpetrator even has any accountability on
the average American college campus, one perpetrator is expelled every

(11:20):
three years. It's so incredibly rare, and that's a new statistic.
It's something we didn't know until a few years ago.
But it's true that even if you go through all
of these mechanisms of accountability, there's a good chance that
you're just going to end up even more hurt. And
it's one of the reasons why a lot of survivors
choose never to name their perpetrator publicly, because it's easier

(11:42):
to get support as a survivor if people don't rush
to the defense of your perpetrator instead, if it doesn't
become kind of a circus around protecting that particular man.
And we do find that when survivors share their experiences
and name a perpetrator, they still tend to be deeply
mistreated in our society and victim shamed. And then still

(12:03):
then there is no positive outcome. I mean, do you
think those people who are in college are getting out
and just continuing the behavior. Yeah, they definitely are, not
all of them. One thing that we know about perpetrators
is that there aren't a ton of them that will
perpetrate in all scenarios that they tend to be responsive
to social context. Perpetrators perpetrate when it will be rewarded,

(12:25):
when they're in an industry where bragging about that type
of violence will be seen favorably, like a badge of honor. Yeah,
it's like a badge of honor. It's like a masculinity contest.
And so when they're in those spaces, they're more likely
to perpetrate. If they're in a place where that would
be considered stigmatized behavior, and some want to say, Wow,
I don't want to work with a guy who does that.
I'm not going to hire him, I'm not going to
promote him. Then we see a lot of men are

(12:46):
a lot less likely to perpetrate. But it's true that
these contexts on a college campus. They're pretty similar everywhere actually,
and that's because again, perpetrators are not complete strangers. There
are people who are deeply embedded in our lives, and
a lot of people will rush to their defense. There's
so much to unpack there, because I want to know
why people rush to the defense of the perpetrator. What

(13:10):
is in our culture or in our psyche that rushes
to that when you feel like it should instantly be
to the victim. I think that this has been one
of the really hard lessons of this me too moment,
that when the me too hashtagment viral, there was an
assumption of if everybody just knew that sexual assault was
so common, well, then it would end immediately, we would

(13:32):
do something about it finally, And what we found instead
is that a lot of the time people don't think
sexual violence is a good reason for a perpetrator to
face any consequences, and we shift those consequences back onto
the victim. Something I find in my work a lot,
and I've interviewed people who are tasked with adjudicating these

(13:52):
cases and deciding what to do and who to give
consequences to. Something they'll say is, well, the damage to
the victim is already done, and now the only person
who matters is the perpetrator. And it's the sort of
twisted logic of one ruined life is inevitable, and two
ruined lives would be worse. So instead, there's this pushing
of the consequences of the sexual assault back onto the victim, saying, well,

(14:15):
the victim's already traumatized, they're already struggling. We'll just stop
working with them, we'll stop hiring them, we'll stop keeping
them in classes, whatever it might be, to focus on
keeping the perpetrator protected. And a lot of it comes
from there's this fantastic concept by a philosopher called hympathy.
So that's empathy but with him at the front, and
it's great. And the excessive empathy that we give men,

(14:42):
particularly when they are in competition with women for who
will receive empathy, and so it plays a lot into
sexual assault cases. How do we then go without change
changing those mindsets and talking about the lasting effects of

(15:05):
sexual violence and how people have to work to overcome them. Myself,
it's taken me over twenty years. Yeah, where does the
change start? I think we have to confront a lot
of the rate myths that still exists in our society.
So we tend to still think that when victims come
forward with their stories, that they're being vindictive, that they're

(15:27):
trying to ruin lives, and that could not be farther
from the truth. Most of the time, when victims come
forward about their stories, they just want to tell their
life story from beginning to end and violence was a
part of it. Or they have a reason that they're
speaking out. They either want to protect other potential victims.
They know that this person is still in a position

(15:48):
of power that they're abusing and that's why they want
them to lose that position of power, which isn't a punishment,
it's a fair consequence for an abuse of power, or
they're often still facing violence from that person themselves. I
think that was one of the most surprising things to
me about getting into this work is how many of
the victims, when deciding to come forward, just wanted the

(16:10):
violence to stop. And unfortunately, when victims come forward, especially
very publicly, that tends to be an increase of violence,
not just from the perpetrator who starts to retaliate, but
from the people who are fans of that perpetrator, who
are friends and family of that perpetrator, colleagues of that perpetrator,
who rush to their defense and often harass and disparage

(16:31):
the victim. It's interesting, I've heard often, well, why did
it take them so long to talk about it? Clearly
it wasn't that much of a big deal, and the
truth of the matter is it's taken that long to
even face what happened. Yeah, it can be really confusing
because a lot of these acts of violence, it's a

(16:52):
lot more common than people think, and because it's so common,
it can start to feel normal, even though it shouldn't be.
But it's interesting in our society because we really do
allow so much space for people to cope with things
like death or illness or any source of other types
of grief, but we don't actually make the same accommodations

(17:14):
for survivors of sexual assault who are coping with many
of this, I mean, there are many of the same feelings.
They're sort of relegated to doing it in silence. They
have to act as if their life is normal. How
do we carve out that space for survivors to feel
that they have the room to be heard or to

(17:37):
at least come to terms with how they feel about something.
There are few ways to answer that question. I'm going
to answer it a couple of ways. So the first
one is about in our inner personal lives, how do
we support survivors that we know and love, and how
do we give them enough space to process a sexual
assault that you know, it's very similar to grief. They're

(17:59):
sort of stages of feeling sexual assault and feeling that
new survivor identity. Right, and denial is a big one.
Often for a lot of friends and family of survivors,
they don't get past the denial piece. They say, oh,
you said it wasn't that bad when it happens, so
I don't want to support you. Well, they don't know
how to answer. They don't a lot of the time

(18:19):
if you've talked to someone about the situation, if at all,
they don't know how to respond to you. Right, and
often they're trying to fit your experience into their narrative
of what a sexual assault should be, which might not
be inclusive of your experience of sexual assault. Because the
narrative we have about what rape is is pretty far

(18:40):
off from what it actually looks like most of the time,
and so a lot of people are pretty poorly equipped
to be able to not only respond the right way
in the moment, but then a lot don't even have interest. Right.
You would want people, if they don't know what to
say in the moment, to jump on the internet and
to find some good resources about how to be supportive.
And you know, the thing is, it's actually not that complicated,
and sexual assault is traumatic because of a loss of autonomy.

(19:04):
To heal survivors, they just need autonomy back. And so
when someone who you know and love has experienced sexual assault,
all you really have to do is just let them
lead the way, validate their experiences, listen to them, tell
them that it wasn't their fault, and that however they
want to think about it is okay, and it's okay
if it changes over time too. It's all about giving

(19:25):
survivors control back. But we're not really comfortable with it.
Especially because people kind of go back and forth in
their understandings of what took place. I just want to
say one more time, that's normal in a society that
treats sexual violence as no big deal when you're getting
all of these social reactions where some people are going
to say, this is a really big deal and you

(19:46):
deserve support, but then someone else the next day might say, well,
I think you're overreacting. We can't expect survivors to not
internalize any of that. And how does that work with
families because or specifically our partners or our children, how
do we talk about our experiences to families, because that's
a whole other area that can be very disruptive. Yeah,

(20:10):
I think that can be one of the hardest places
to talk about this type of violence. For sure. I've
done research with queer women survivors and for them talking
to their families about it is consistently one of the
worst experiences they have following a sexual assault. And so
one of the things I'd recommend to survivors is just
to trust your gut. If you think someone's going to

(20:30):
be supportive, then that's who you should go to for support.
If you get a sense that they won't be and
you don't want to tell them, you're not obligated to
tell them. And then if you're going to be the
supportive family member, the thing you need to do is
again be patient, give it lots of time, allow someone
to go through the different iterations, and be open to education,
go seek it out on your own. But also when

(20:52):
you think about a partner and how sexual wilds can
disrupt intimacy, that could be a problem that both people
are working on. We have tendency and intimate relationships. To
say that, well, the survivor is the one who has trauma,
so they have an obligation to heal and fix their
trauma so that they can be perfect for their partner again,
but that's really damaging. It should go the other way.
It should say, oh, my partner has trauma, they're going

(21:15):
to need adjustments. Our relationship is going to look different now.
Really responsive partners can notice when their partner who is
a survivor is reacting a certain ways, getting stressed out,
as getting triggered, and so to look for those signs
of a trigger and say, hey, let's take a beat here,
let's talk through it. And to be really proactive this
shouldn't fall all on survivors to heal themselves. The people

(21:36):
who are closest to us should facilitate that healing and
create safe spaces for us. I was not prepared for
how my children would respond to learning about my assault.

(21:57):
What did you find the most challenging about it? Well,
that I had missed the opportunity to prepare them. The
first thing I felt it was a unfortunate and I
wasn't proud of that moment. I for some reason didn't
think that I would need it. And yet they felt

(22:18):
absolutely confronted by this, and they felt sort of blindsided
by it. One of them did in particular, and there
was a mixture of protectiveness and anger, and I had
to deal with each of those pieces as a mother
but also as the victim. And I really, I really

(22:43):
had to work on really approaching it and speaking to
them very personally and speaking them as to the wise.
And you know, it made me feel so it made
me feel like I was a bad mother, because how
could I not have prepared. I've prepared my children for
so much in life, and hear they're blindsided and they're

(23:03):
seeing something and one daughter had guessed something like this
had happened and had sort of really confronted me, and
so I talked about it to her privately. I did
not bring in the other child and thought, for some reason,
because our life was so healthy and happy today, that

(23:24):
it would somehow make not what happened to me okay,
but make hersy that I've worked through it. I think
the relationship between parents and children can be so challenging
because there are such a thing Yeah, obviously there are

(23:44):
such intense power dynamics involved where mothers in particular are
under so much pressure, And a conversation that I have
with mothers a lot around sexual assaults is how do
I prepare my children to make sure they won't get
sexual assaulted? And one of the most difficult things we
have to accept is, well, since sexual assault isn't the
fault of the victim, the victim can't prevent sexual assault.

(24:06):
There are things victims can do to resist, and maybe
they'll be able to do it in that situation, and
maybe they won't. But a lot of the time, when
we go to our daughters and we say here's a
list of things you should do to prevent a sexual assault,
what they hear is you're blaming me. You think it's
my fault. You think if something happens to me, it'll
be my fault, and so one of the you know,
it comes from a good place, but the sense of, oh,

(24:27):
we actually need to take a step back, and a
lot of mothers who will say those things to their children.
It comes from a place of this is what I
wish I could have done in the moment when something
bad happened to me. It's so interesting because the documentary
is about the oversexualization of young women in our culture,
and I'm living with two daughters who their world is

(24:49):
about that, and yet it's on their terms, so there
is something more empowering. But you still have to protect them,
or at least inform them that it's still out there.
And I think that's the line that's really hard to walk,
is to be able to say sexual violence is real,
if it happens to you, it's not your fault. And

(25:11):
then I think it's hard for us to recognize that
it really doesn't matter what the victim was wearing that
sexual violence, that's not where it comes from, and that's
where we've been told that it comes from, and what
we're protecting our own kids. Right, there's the sense of
I want to throw any tool at you that might
possibly help, and I've been told by so many other
people this might possibly help, so let's try it. But

(25:33):
we've been misled some of the stuff. There actually are
some things that can help girls prevent sexual assault, and
some of my favorite things about these approaches is that
they don't lead victims to blame themselves if they do
get sexually assaulted. But the most helpful thing that we
can do is help girls and young women know what
sexual assault actually looks like. Here's how to recognize that

(25:55):
someone is pushing your boundaries. Because actually, women are really
good if they feel that people will support them when
they walk away. They're really good at recognizing those signs
and walking away, but only if they feel like no
one will get them in trouble for it. Only if
they feel like people afterwards will say, it's totally fine
that you don't like that guy at that party, and
I don't think you're a jerk for walking away. But

(26:17):
often girls hear the opposite, right, it's like he was
being nice, Why wouldn't you talk to him? Well, it's
a very hard thing to do, and it just feels
like we're so far away from getting there where you've
talked about campuses, but what about when it's happening in
the home. There are a lot of things we can
do when talking to children. I'm going to answer this
question a couple of ways too, when talking to our
children about sexual violence. One is to help them recognize

(26:39):
the signs of coercion and the signs that they're feeling
uncomfortable really early, to say, if you're finding yourself saying
and doing things that don't align with what you wish
you were saying and doing, even on a small scale,
that's a good time to leave. We can also model
that really good behavior by really small things like not
making kids hug a family member when they don't want to,

(27:00):
not forcing them to smile on a photo if they
don't want to. Another one, and this one's really important
for violent relationships in particular, and to protect girls against
violent relationships. Let them not treat men in the household
as authority figures. So especially once they start to get older,
when they're teenagers, if they get into a big argument
with their dad, they need to be able to walk

(27:20):
away and slam the door and have that be respected.
They need to know that they are not obligated to
fix a man's feelings, and that they have to stay
there until a man tells them they're allowed to leave.
It's so small, but I think a lot of us,
if we think about the way we were raised or
the households that we live in now, we would say, oh,
I don't know that we do that. Actually I think
we do say that as a sign of respect, you

(27:41):
have to stay and see the argument through, as opposed
to recognizing you always have the right to leave. You
always have the right to leave, that would be helpful.
It's also really difficult when you've spent a great deal
of time with much, much, much younger children. You know,
we've told our kids it's a sign of respect to
not ignore me and walk away, that we're going to

(28:02):
talk about this situation. So it's got to be really
hard to balance. It is weird to go from you're
a child who you can't make medical decisions for yourself, right, like,
that's just one of the things that I have to
do that for you, to then saying oh, you have
autonomy and you can make decisions I disagree with. We
can't just flip a switch overnight, And so thinking about

(28:23):
how to do that in sort of gradations, and so
one of them might be all right, you're getting to
an age where I do think it's okay if you
want to walk away from an argument. But here's how
to walk away respectfully. And one more question about children.
What if a child does come to you and explains
they're being abused, what is the best or most appropriate

(28:44):
way a parent can respond. Yeah, this is the other
way I wanted to answer your question, actually, and top
of the list is just believe them. We have this
sense that children don't know what's happening and they don't
know what's good for them. But children are very reliable
narrators of their experiences of sexual abuse, and if they

(29:05):
say something has happened to them, then something has happened
to them. And as a parent, what you should do
is jump to their defense. And you would be astonished
by how rarely that happens at Oh. No, they're just
wanting attention, right, that's what people say. They're just craving attention,
or you know, often when we think about who the
abusers usually are in families, it's usually men who are

(29:27):
very close to the children. So it can be a parent,
a stepparent, a grandparent and uncle somebody like that is
usually men, but it's not always men. But there is
a sense of, you know, I've heard from survivors I've interviewed,
a sense of like, oh, you just don't like your
new stepfather, like you're just trying to get him removed
from the family, and there's this dismissiveness again, getting back
to all those same rape myths about why victims would

(29:49):
choose to come forward. Well, if a child is coming
to you to say that they've been abused, they want
the violence to stop. That's why they're coming forward. Something
people are really reluctant to do, when we shouldn't be
reluctant to do, is to give victims rewards for coming forward.
People think it will create this world of false allegations,
and that couldn't be farther from the truth. But when

(30:10):
a victim comes comes to you and says that they
have been sexually abused, one of the things you can
reward them with is to say, I want our relationship
to get better after this. I want to be closer
to you after this. I want you to feel like
you can come to me with more things. The conversation
and how to support a survivor doesn't always have to
be about the abuse. It can sometimes be spending a

(30:31):
nice day together and listening to them talk about what
else matters in their lives, And those conversations actually matter
just as much, if not more, then the conversations that
are about abuse specifically. One of the other reasons victims
hesitate to come forward is they worry that no one
will ever want to talk to them about anything other
than the abuse. Ever. Again, I can identify with that. Yeah,
And so to say this is just a piece of

(30:53):
who you are, I recognize that there's still so much
more to you, and I want to get to know
those pieces of you can be really really helpful too.
So much that you've said that I think is going
to help so many people. I know. My talking about
my experience has just opened up conversations and so much,
so many more conversations than I even anticipated. Why did

(31:13):
you decide to do what you do because it's a lot. Yeah.
I came into this work for the reason a lot
of us do, which is I have some personal experiences
that made me really kind of horrified by what the
sort of traditional answer was, right, And I had some
questions about sexual violence that I just didn't I didn't
want the answer to be it's the victim's fault. And

(31:34):
so that's why I got into this field and I
continue to do it because I actually think it's really hopeful.
There's something pretty exciting about realizing that the solutions to
sexual violence are pretty clearly laid out in front of us,
and we just need to be brave enough to invoke them.
But then the other reason is because of conversations like
this one that a big part of that is validating survivors,

(31:56):
is making sexual violence less damaging by survivors. No, I mean,
one of the reasons that sexual violence is used in
patriarchal societies is because it does make gender inequality worse.
It makes victims instead if we think it will radicalize
victims and it'll make victims more feminist, but a lot
of the time it does the opposite. It leads to
this deep internalized misogyny that can lead victims to say, oh,

(32:20):
don't be like me, you shouldn't do X, Y and Z.
Here's a list of things that women in society shouldn't
do anymore. It just perpetuates the dynamic exactly, And so
I think these kinds of conversations with survivors to say,
you know, this wasn't your fault. This violence happens because
of a decision made by a perpetrator, and that's the
full answer. I think that that's really powerful. That was

(32:45):
doctor Nicole Bedera, And for more of her research, including
how to pre order her new book on the Wrong Side,
head over to Nicole Bedera dot com. We link to
it in our show's notes, along with a list of
resources for sexual salt survivors. And they're families. As always,
thank you for listening. Now, What with Brookshields is a

(33:07):
production of iHeartRadio. Our lead producer and wonderful showrunner is
Julia Weaver. Additional research and editing by Darby Masters and
Abu Zafar. Our executive producer is Christina Everett. The show
is mixed by Bahed Fraser.
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