Men in My Town

Sending your little girl away soon to her first year at college? 6 things you (and she) need to know about campus rape.

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on August 12, 2019

Sending your little girl away soon to her first year at college? 6 things you (and she) need to know about campus rape.

1. You’re at greater risk of being raped or sexually assaulted during your first semester freshman year than any other time during your college career. You can be raped at any age, at any time, at any school, but the risk is highest during your first few months as a freshman.

2. While it’s never, ever the victim’s fault, the more you drink, the more you’re at risk. Excessive alcohol and drug use, while never an excuse, are often cited by both the victim and criminal rapist as contributing to the crime.

3. Most victims are assaulted by someone they know or someone known to their friends. The risk of being raped or sexually assaulted by a total stranger while away at school is very, very low.

4. There’s a higher probability of being raped in off-campus housing than being raped on campus. The risk you face isn’t being raped by a stranger on your walk back to your dorm after a night at the library but from someone you know, or your friends know, while drinking off-campus during your freshman year.

So while anyone, any age might be sexually assaulted on campus by a stranger, the facts show you’re most at risk from someone you know, in off-campus housing, during your freshman year, after you and / or the criminal rapist have been drinking to excess.

5. Colleges and Universities have a self-interest in protecting their reputation and balance sheet. Your self-interest should be in protecting you. If you’re raped or sexually assaulted reach out for help. There’s no shame in what happened to you. Rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault. Never. Hear me? Never…so dial 911 and report your assault to the local police. Call the real cops. Let them deal with Campus Security.

If you can’t disclose to the cops, I understand, just know you’re not alone and there are people who will help you. Please call RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network at (800) 656 HOPE for 24 / 7 anonymous, confidential, free help.

Oh, yeah, one last thought. My title, ‘Sending your little girl away soon to her first semester at college? 6 things you (and she) need to know about campus rape,’ is misleading.

Number 6. Boys get raped too.

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Keith Smith, the author of Men in My Town, is a Survivor of a Stranger Abduction Rape and a Speaker on the topic of Child Sex Abuse, Sex Assault and Rape Prevention.

Keith Smith testifies to Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee in support of Statute of Limitation reform in cases of sex crimes committed against children

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on June 27, 2019

 

New Jersey passes Statute of Limitations reform in cases of sex crimes committed against children

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on May 13, 2019

208BC2A1-3433-4D00-8789-C274C41C1418Committee Room 4, New Jersey State House. Trenton, New Jersey. May 13, 2019. 

9 years ago, I walked into this room to testify before the State Senate Judiciary Committee in support of legislation being introduced to revise the Statute of Limitations relating to sex crimes committed against children. 

This afternoon I walked into this room surrounded by legislators, legislative staff, social workers, advocates, a constitutional law scholar, a catholic priest, survivors of childhood sex abuse, their parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, children, friends, those they love, and those who love them. Hero’s all. 

We came together to witness and celebrate New Jersey passing into law the nation’s most comprehensive Statute of Limitations reform legislation protecting the rights of children and adult survivors of sexual assault and rape. 

At the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. I’m a survivor of a stranger-danger abduction and male rape. 

I’m not writing to tell my story, but to spread understanding of why this legislation is so important, to share with you what I’ve learned from my own experience, and what I’ve learned in conversations I’ve had with over 100 adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. 

Children who are victims of sexual abuse often resort to inappropriate behaviors to cope as they suffer through physical, emotional, behavioral and social problems directly related to their abuse. 

Some turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, run away from home, suffer from eating disorders, sleeping disorders, personality disorders, stress, anxiety, depression, disassociation, post-traumatic stress syndrome and life threatening sexually transmitted disease.

Some children have difficulty forming trusting relationships, resort to physical violence, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and sometimes criminal sexually reactive behavior. 

Some resort to cutting, self-mutilation and in the most extreme cases they’ve murdered their abuser while others contemplate, attempt or commit suicide.

Directly attributable to their sexual abuse, victims often suffer these enduring problems throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, many suffering through decades of silence, never disclosing their abuse.

But why not? Why don’t they disclose?

Sexually abused children and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse remain silent out of misplaced guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment, feelings of being complicit in their abuse, and under threat of violence from their perpetrators, threats of violence directed at the child, their family, their friends, event their pets.  

In time, often in a number of years that far surpass the current statute of limitations, some victims of childhood sexual abuse get the strength to come forward, the strength to speak out, the strength to face the demons that haunt them and the perpetrator of their abuse.

Unfortunately, the amount of time that lapses between the sex crime committed against the child and the date the adult survivor comes forward seeking justice, often exceeds the current statute of limitations and eliminates the possibility of legal civil recourse. 

While the Roman Catholic Church lobbied extensively for over a decade to defeat this legislation, I want to be clear, this law is not anti-Catholic. 

While this law will hold priests accountable for the crimes they’ve committed against children, and the church accountable for the cover-up of those crimes, this legislation holds accountable every criminal who has, or will abuse kids regardless of who they are or where they work; parents, step-parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends of the family, neighbors, school teachers, bus drivers, coaches, doctors, lawyers, politicians, business owners, truck drivers, carpenters, plumbers, construction workers, firemen, cops, bankers, brokers, the guy down the street, the stranger, and yes catholic priests, bishops and cardinals too. This law isn’t anti-Catholic. It’s pro-child. 

The life altering physical, emotional, behavioral and social side effects of sexual abuse last a lifetime and now, today, children and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in New Jersey have until they’re 55 years-old to seek justice for the abuse they suffered. 

To all the people who played a role in getting this legislation written, debated, out of committee, to the floor for a vote, passed and signed into law, thank you. 

To the criminals who’ve ever sexually abused a child in New Jersey, your day of reckoning has come.

Is It Really Possible For People To Heal From Sexual Abuse?

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on June 20, 2018

In a reply to a quote I made during an interview, “the real healing was achieved when I started to sincerely believe I’m not responsible for what happened to me,” a woman, Jennifer, asked, “is it really possible for people to heal from sexual abuse?”

If you believe what I’ve written may be helpful to someone you know who is suffering in silence or struggling with their journey through healing, please share what’s here. Thank you.

Jennifer, my name is Keith Smith. I’m a stranger abduction male rape survivor.

I began to make the transition from victim to survivor when I was able to stop blaming myself, when I started to sincerely believe that I wasn’t responsible for what happened to me.

When I stopped blaming myself, the fear, the embarrassment, the shame, the guilt diminished. It’s not gone 100%, but it’s less painful, less destructive.

Unrelated to my rape, I’ve been operated on three times to remove cancer. Am I healed? I believe I am even though I know the cancer may come back and the very visible scars on my body and face will remain forever.

Like the emotional and psychological scars that remain after being raped at the age of 14 by a total stranger, I’ll live with them for the rest of my life.

I can deal with the emotional, psychological and physical scars. My rape, like my cancer, won’t kill me. I won’t let it. Neither was my fault. I’m not responsible for what happened to me. I’m in control. I’m healing – not healed.

For me, healing from the rape doesn’t mean I have to forget the horror I experienced or forgive my rapist.

Like my surgical scars, I expect the emotional and psychological scars related to my abduction, beating and rape will most likely last forever.

For me, healing means I no longer let those scars, the embarassment, the fear, the guilt, and shame define, limit, control or harm me.

When I started to sincerely believe I wasn’t responsible for what happened to me, I began my transition from victim to survivor.

The emotional, psychological and physical scars remain. The memories exist. Neither go away permanently… but I’m in control. I can cope with triggers and flashbacks now…now that I sincerely believe what happened to me was not my fault.

Being abducted, beaten and raped no longer haunts me, taunts me, defines me, limits me, controls me.

I’m healing. Not healed.

May you soon be able to get to the point where you sincerely believe what happened to you wasn’t your fault so you too can start to heal – and begin the transition from victim to survivor.

Peace, Jennifer.

Keith

Why Didn’t They Disclose?

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 13, 2017

With the media reporting stories of sexual abuse victims coming forward with claims of previous abuse committed as long as 40 years ago, the question is being raised by some, “Why didn’t they disclose when it happened and why are they disclosing now?”

Let me share with you what I’ve learned over the years in speaking publicly about my own experience as a survivor of a stranger abduction rape.

Sexually abused children and adult survivors of sexual abuse often remain silent out of misplaced guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment and under threat of violence from their perpetrators, threats of violence directed at the child, their friends, their family and even their pets.

In time, some victims of childhood sexual abuse get the strength to come forward, the strength to speak out, the strength to face the demons that haunt them and the perpetrator of their abuse, while many remain silent, living with the debilitating, destructive side effects forever, never disclosing their abuse to anyone.

The personal and societal side effects of childhood sexual abuse are daunting. Children who are victims of sexual abuse often resort to inappropriate behaviors to cope as they suffer through physical, emotional, behavioral and social problems directly related to their abuse. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, run away from home, suffer from eating disorders, sleeping disorders, personality disorders, stress, anxiety, depression, disassociation, post-traumatic stress syndrome and life threatening sexually transmitted disease.

Some children have difficulty forming trusting relationships, resort to physical violence, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and sometimes criminal sexually reactive behavior. Some resort to cutting, self-mutilation and in the most extreme cases they’ve murdered their abuser while others contemplate, attempt or commit suicide.

Directly attributable to their sexual abuse, victims often suffer these enduring problems throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, many suffering through decades of silence, never disclosing their abuse.

Disclosing a sexual assault at any time, 20, 30, even 40 years after the fact, doesn’t make the abuse any less real, any less traumatic, any less violating, any less horrific, any less criminal.

We need to credit victims for having the strength and courage to come forward and disclose the abuse they suffered no matter how recent or long ago in the past.

As more victims come forward with their public disclosure of past abuse we need to understand why many victims choose to suffer in silence.

I hope in some small way my explanation helps all of us recognize the strength and courage it takes for victims to finally go public and begin their transition from sexual abuse victim to survivor.

A Transformational Moment in Understanding Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Assault

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 3, 2017

I believe we’re at a crossroads, a transformational moment in our understanding of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, perpetrators, victims and society’s previous unwillingness to confront publicly what has been hidden in the shadows for far too long.

Recent events involving Hollywood executives Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Brett Ratner, Bill Cosby, Andy Dick, Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman; News & Media executives Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin and Michael Oreskes; NYPD detectives Edward Martins and Richard Hall, Wall Street bond trader Howie Rubin, celebrity chef John Besh, Uber founder Travis Kalanick, Bikram Yoga creator Bikram Choudhury and former U S Congressman Anthony Weiner show us all that abusers aren’t the stereotypical unknown stranger in the park, rather just the opposite. Abusers are often known to their victim, and may be well known, successful, rich and powerful.

In public, in office buildings, on the set of Hollywood blockbuster films, in broadcast news studios, in the back of a police van, in Howie Rubin’s $8 million dollar NYC apartment, in your town, on your block, on your street, maybe even in your own home, sexual harassment, abuse, assault and rape occurs.

And now victims are speaking out, criminals are being held accountable and the public seems more willing to believe accusers, more willing to confront and expose abusers, more willing to shed the stigma and confront the reality.

As the powerful, rich and famous are being outed and those around them seem to no longer look the other way, I hope victims of harassment, abuse, assault and rape, victims young and old, rich and not-so-rich, famous and the lesser known kid next door get the strength they need to speak out, seek help, bring to light the abuse they’ve suffered and expose the abuser responsible.

So thank you Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette for standing up and speaking out.

Because of your strength, somewhere today a young boy or girl may follow your example and find the courage to tell a parent, a teacher, a friend, or walk into a police station and begin their transition from victim to survivor.
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If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape, help is available, anonymous and confidential, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week from RAINN.

Call RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network at (800) 656 4673 or visit RAINN on the web at http://www.rainn.org

RAINN Survivor Series Video – Keith Smith, Stranger Abduction Rape Survivor

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on March 29, 2016