As any parent knows, the world can be a scary place for teenage girls, and adolescent women are the most likely group to be sexually victimized.
But all too often, discussions of rape prevention put all of the focus on women by telling them to avoid certain locations, avoid staying out late, or only wear modest clothes.
This practice can leave women feeling terrified in the world and is unlikely to prevent sexual victimization. But you do still need to talk to your daughter about sexual assault.
While nothing you do, short of permanently locking her in a cell, is a guarantee of safety, ongoing conversations about sex and sexual consent can greatly increase your daughter’s likelihood of escaping her teenage years unharmed.
Talking About Sex
Before you talk to your daughter about rape, you need to talk to her about sex. Many parents attempt to roll the sex and rape talks into one discussion, and the result is a child who is terrified of both.
Fear does nothing to help your daughter and can actually increase her likelihood of victimization. Equally important, as uncomfortable as it may be, it’s important for your daughter to understand that sex should be pleasurable.
If she comprehends that sex is a mutually satisfying, loving experience, she’s much less likely to give in to pressure and will more easily recognize the difference between sex and rape.
Teenagers can be amazingly unaware of the risks of the world. Don’t assume that your daughter has common sense about danger, because the odds are good that when she’s getting pressure from her friends — or a cute boy — her common sense is likely to go flying out the window.
Talk specifically and explicitly about methods for staying safe, and be sure to offer the following advice:
• Never go anywhere with someone you don’t know very well. Someone you met an hour ago is not someone you know very well.
• Travel in groups as much as possible, and if you separate from your friends, establish a clear time to meet back up that’s no more than an hour in the future.