Whatever your age, gender, and position in life, you are strong, courageous, and capable of such incredible things! Whatever you have heard opposite to this just plain ain’t true. The truth actually is that you are amazing! The beginning of the next waves of change begins with you. So, dear ones, choose wisely and embrace your own journey as one fighting for freedom.
Today, I have two subjects to address. I know my posts tends to be heavy, but this one is a bit different, for the most part. The first topic of discussion is an event in Savannah that provides a simple way for you to advocate for freedom in your city. The second portion is a Q&A for any and everyone who wants to join the fight through open communication and discussion on subjects surrounding advocacy and Prom night.
So, without further ado: Calling all Savannah teens, parents, and teachers, I have an event to share with you!
The Main Event
There are only a few events leading up to Spring and St. Patrick’s Day that you, as advocates, need to be aware of in Savannah. You won’t want to miss this one.
If you are a high schooler, parent of a teenager, teacher, or are associated with those groups, you will be planning for something big in the coming months. You know, the thing everyone in high school waits all year for, where the ladies and gents get all decked out to the nines to hit the dance floor for one night of crazy, let-your-updo-down, fun. It’s called Prom, and you know you’re going, so just ask that cute kid to go with you already!
Maybe you think there’s no way you are able to attend because you are just not at a place in life where you can find the cash it takes to afford it. The following event exists for you.
Maybe you think Prom is totally lame and would rather do anything else, well, this should appeal to you as well. Believe me, I’ve been the wallflower, mocking edgy so I could stay home and paint canvas instead, and this would have definitely gotten me out of my seat.
Let me cut right to the chase. There’s a way for you to go to Prom, very inexpensively, while also advocating for victims of rape, assault, abuse, and even trafficking.
Wait…what!? Yes. Shout it from the rooftops, this is legit.
Savannah’s local Top 40 radio station, KISS FM 97.3 is hosting an event this weekend and here is the scoop.
The event is called House of Prom. You can go shopping for a brand new or gently used Prom dress for only $10 each! If money was previously an issue, it is not anymore. This event makes Prom gowns accessible for everyone*. Not only does this allow possibilities for every girl to attend Prom regardless of financial status, but also all proceeds go to Rape Crisis Center. Aha! The advocacy tie-in starts to stitch together.
*They are currently receiving gowns for the sale as well. So, clean out your closets! Bring them your new or gently used bridesmaid, Prom, or evening gowns.
Dress Drop Off: Savannah Mall (Dillards) – NOW-March 1st
ONE DAY Sale*: Savannah Mall (former Lane Bryant) – March 2nd ONLY
*The sale starts at 10AM this Saturday, March 2nd.
Like I said, almost too good to be true, and totally legit!
Down And Dirty: Question & Answer
Because I anticipate (and encourage!) conversations surrounding Prom night, and discussions on how supporting Rape Crisis Center for $10 makes you an advocate, I have provided an brief but extensive Q&A below!
This Q&A covers the following topics: discussing safety on Prom night, how to identify rape and even trafficking, how guys can advocate, and even more talking points. Please, submit any added questions in the comments or a private message.
1. Why am I telling you about an event that is really just about Prom gowns, and how does it relate for both girls and guys and even adults for that matter?
Well, it’s not just about Prom or high school, and it’s really not just about girls either. This is an opportunity to very simply create change and advocate for victims of abuse in your community. I’ll explain more of the advocacy below, as well as guys’ and adult’s roles. But why can’t guys also share the opportunity with others of finding the perfect dress? All my fashion-designing brothers take a bow. Also, guys can begin to learn more about advocacy through this post, and Rape Crisis Center, so that they can play a more active role in undoing gender stereotypes that portray sex-driven and violent tendencies in males. So, all my dudes out there, you have an extremely important role. Please also disregard my use of the word “dudes”, it’s been awhile since I was a teen, but I’m just as cool now as I was back then. Clearly.
2. Isn’t Prom something we should caution teens about?
This is a mom/dad type of question, although I address the teens and teachers right below, as well. Prom night does statistically have the highest rate of rape and or sex/drug/alcohol related issues as far as high school events go. However, if you have educated yourself (as a teen) or your teen on how to stay safe and avoid dangerous situations or people, it is really less likely that there will be any sort of issue that night. There are things to be aware of, sure, and conversations to be had to ensure that it ends up as just a fun night for teens to let loose and have fun with friends. Really, ideally it would start with knowing your teenager. It really boils down to trusting your kid, and having open, honest, and respectful conversations. Don’t just assume; ask, communicate, discuss together.
Teens: It is important to be very aware of who you are taking to Prom/hanging around in general. Also, stay with friends that you know and trust. Don’t use this night as an excuse to do something out of character, those things can have serious consequences and you don’t need to choose something outside of your identity to prove that you are amazing. Trust me, you are already amazing! Plus, the “weirdest” teens make the coolest adults, right!? That’s what I tell myself anyway.
Parents: It is extremely important to respectfully know who your teen is going with to Prom. Maybe invite the kid out to eat a week or so beforehand, or simply meet them, and seriously figure out if it’s a safe choice for your teen. Whether your teen is a guy or girl, because guys get taken advantage of as well and are often too ashamed to speak up. If your teen is a guy, please do not ever buy into the lie that guys cannot be taken advantage of, and also educate them on how to make healthy decisions. And please, for the love of God, teach them not to rape women! I know that is extremely blunt (welcome to my life), but honestly. Teach them that women’s bodies are not to be objectified, ogled, bought, sold, or owned. Women’s bodies are not property, and tell your sons and your daughters that we each keep control over our own perceptions. Therefore, prom night isn’t a freebie love pass to feel up your date. Neither he nor she owes the other anything of the sort. Teach your boys to fight and stand up for the betterment of the ladies. Oh dear, what’s this? Gentlemen in the house! While you’re at it, teach your daughters their body is their own and if someone tries to take that away from them, they are worth fighting for! Women, we are not our bodies. Men, you are not your sex drives. DEBUNK THE MYTHS!
Teachers: Please look for signs of abuse and/or potential trafficking at any time, and specifically on Prom night. I’m not actually kidding (and how horrific if I was) because the average age for girls being trafficked is 14 years old in the US and it looks like the average teen. Honestly, know your students, give a shit about them, know their day-to-day so that you can recognize warning signs!
Signs of Trafficking: Domestically it looks a lot like a girl who has no control over her own choices, is with a slightly older, typically good-looking, male. They may have to ask his permission to use the restroom, get food, etc. He may have his hand on her neck, arm, or waist, holding her so she cannot walk away. Often the victim will not notice that they are being controlled or a victim, this is the art of the manipulator. These are a few obvious indicators.
It is not ridiculous to call in an anonymous tip if you spot these things. It could save someone. Speak up! You have a voice when some of these kids do not! If you recognize something call this hotline 24/7: 888-3737-888
* If this person is underage and you suspect trafficking call 911. Seriously. They have a task force and department devoted to these cases and will know how to take appropriate action.
3. Why would my support of Rape Crisis Center make me an advocate for freedom?
Great question! Rape Crisis Center of Savannah works as advocates for victims of rape, assault, abuse, and even trafficking. They have such a large array of victims’ services including self defense classes, counseling, and even a 24-hour assistance line. By purchasing a $10 dress you are helping fund a nonprofit that is actively freeing victims daily from the bondage of their past. If you cannot be on the ground with them, in the nitty gritty day-to-day, this is a great way to support them. I mean, honestly, support them anyway, nonprofits have to run without profits, so anything you give is continuing change and freedom.
4. What is considered rape, and how can I protect myself?
RCC has a great FAQ section that addresses this more extensively.
Rape is honestly any time you have had sex forced upon you. It is when you have said no and they had sex with you anyway. It is when you weren’t given the choice to say no. It doesn’t matter if you said yes in previous instances. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking or doing drugs (although that inhibits your awareness and can be dangerous). There’s no excuse for rape. If you do not want to have sex, and someone did not ask you and you did not want it, or they did not respect your discomfort or your no, then that is considered rape. Rape is not okay, not ever.
You can protect yourself by being aware. Know who you are with, what you all will be doing. Keep the Rape Crisis 24-hr hotline number in your phone (see below, #5). Speak up and say NO! Don’t say yes just because you think it will win you love or acceptance, because this is your life and your body. If someone does not accept you because you won’t put out, kick their ass to the damn curb. You are amazing and deserve respect, because you are worth that, even if you’ve always been told you are not, I cannot stress enough that you are worth it. If you are in a relationship or even when you are married, if you do not want to have sex you do not have to, this is not a dictatorship where you must concede. These are relationships, friendships, and one day perhaps marriage, that in order to be fully healthy you need to have mutual respect and give-and-take and always consent. Always, always, always.
Here is a helpful article discussing rape culture in our society. I would suggest you consider the discussions on consensual sex (about it being good, and healthy to express what you know and like) to be for a mature, healthy, consensual relationship. If you are a teenager reading this, I say that it is a dialog to begin with parents or trusted guardians/adults. I do not frivolously condone sex willy nilly. I advocate for health and freedom, and that means open communication for all parties. So, start talking about sex in a healthy way. Seriously, like yesterday.
5. What do I do if I have been raped or abused, and what if this happens to me or my friends on Prom night?
Dear, amazing and lovely, advocate. If you have been raped or assaulted, or suspect that a friend has experienced/is experiencing this please call Rape Crisis Center. They have a 24-hour hotline number: 888-241-7273 or locally at 912-233-7273
They are there to help. You do not need to dismiss this. You are worth getting rescue and assistance. Whether it is abuse from a boyfriend/girlfriend, family member, or friend, or even a stranger, please seek the help you need.
Now, It’s Your Turn
ADVOCATES, do what you do best, get this conversation started! TWEET this, POST this to Facebook and other forums, SHARE these ideas and this event with your friends/neighbors/teens. And don’t forget to participate in the House of Prom event by donating dresses and/or shopping on Saturday!