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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

What do you tell your kids about rape?

February 15, 2011

Last Friday, Lara Logan was doing her job as a journalist covering the Egyptian revolution. The 60 Minutes correspondent and her crew were in the midst of unprecedented joy overflowing in Tahrir Square as hundreds of thousands of anti-Mubarak protestors celebrated a new reality. We are free! WE ARE FREE!

Every TV journalist reporting from the scene used the word “jubilant.” Strong word. Intense emotion. But not hyperbole. Jubilation is precisely the word to describe liberation from oppression. The end of living in fear.

Lara Logan must have felt it too. How could you be there and not feel it? But then Lara Logan’s jubilation became something very different, when according to this statement from CBS News “…she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy. In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.”

About an hour ago I read about the rape… enough of this “sexual assault” stuff, let’s call it by it’s most vile name. Immediately anxiety kicked in and I felt a sickly cold heaviness. I feel it still. If you’re a woman you exactly know what I’m talking about. Even if you’ve never been raped, you know. If you’re a man who’s never been raped, you can’t know this kind of fear… not the way women know it.

My thoughts are with Lara Logan and her family, her friends, her colleagues and her crew who couldn’t help her… God what they must be feeling!

Lara’s our sister and because of what was done to her we are all suffering. We are all feeling less jubilant. Less liberated. Less free from fear.

What do you tell your tween and teen daughters about rape? What do you tell your sons? What’s that? You say you’ve never had one of those conversations? What are you waiting for?

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 5:34 pm


  1. I do indeed feel sorrow and sickness over what transpired. A hard post on a hard subject. Defending, protecting, warning. loving and caring for one another against the beasts of this world is our hope.

    Comment by Beverly Lewis — February 16, 2011 @ 5:19 am

  2. Hi Annie:
    I have two boys who are now young adults. As they were growing up, we talked about what “respect” means. Respect for one another and respect for different points of view, and respect for each other’s physical bodies. We also talked about the importance of “honesty.” Honesty with yourself and honesty with others. When we began our dialogues on sexual relations, the term,”rape” was defined as stealing something sacred from another person and showing no respect and being dishonest. Rape is one of the cruelest things a human can do to another. Thanks, Annie for writing this important post.

    Comment by ann/stress-management-4-women — February 16, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  3. This one stunned me. Was it the irony . . . a terrible crime committed at a time of celebration or was it that, once again, a woman’s dignity was violated in plain sight? It’s that well known feeling you’re talking about and the ever present fear. I’m raising two daughters – do I need to tell you what some of my worst fears are? I read the article yesterday and I froze. I know I’ll be talking about it with the girls (I have before) but I need to find the words for me, first. I try to not ask “Why?” questions. They don’t lead to anything. But, I can’t stop asking “When?” When is this going to change and how?
    As always, thank you!

    Comment by Yota — February 16, 2011 @ 9:41 am

  4. I have conversations with my older kids (11, 9, and ) about assault pretty often. I take my girls to empowerment classes and we do boxing at home and sometimes go to self defense classes. Stories like this one are shocking and horrible. But the truth is that girls are much more often assaulted by people they know. So we talk about how to be careful around adults, how sometimes adults don’t tell the truth. We have a family password and the kids know not to go with a grown-up who they don’t know well unless he or she knows the password … etc. etc. We can’t stop any of this from happening but we can do our best to empower our children. Even that isn’t enough. This kind of thing is so sad and so scary.

    Jennifer Margulis
    Mothering Outside the Lines

    Comment by Jennifer Margulis — February 16, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  5. I can honestly say, I don’t know. I won’t be telling my children about rape yet. We talk about inappropriate touching because that is sooo important and as a survivor of sexual abuse, I want my kids to know what is and is not okay and that they can tell me anything. So like a previous poster, without using the term rape, we also talk about respect and appropriate touching. As they age, we’ll have those tougher conversations. That will be sooner for my 14 year old. Tough situation for Lara. I really hope the media respects her privacy and her family’s request to be left alone right now. I feel for her that she will be having these conversations with her children too because she will be forced to because of the media coverage, not because it’s the right timing for their family.

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    Comment by Mel @ Trailing After God — February 16, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  6. I’ve talked about so many things with my kids, and about being in a safe situation, but not about rape, outright. Boy. You’ve really stopped me short. I guess it’s because my sisters and I were careful and also really, really lucky in our lives, so it hasn’t occurred to me.

    Will remedy. Thanks for bringing this up.

    Comment by lisha cauthen — February 21, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  7. Well said. We cannot reverse the clock to change the course of events, but we can educate those who will walk in to the future.

    Once again, thanks for posting a great blog to help others.

    Comment by Louise Sattler — February 22, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  8. I’m sorry Annie,

    but have been very specific in stating that indeed it was RAPE.
    But how do you know that she was (penetrated).

    I have found a single news source that has officially used the R word.
    CBS declared that it was a “sexual assault” however that doesn’t necessarily mean rape.

    Could you explain how you know that she was raped..

    Comment by Patricia — March 4, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  9. @Patricia: This question is incredibly hurtful, and should not be ever asked. The woman was obviously brutally assaulted, AND sexually assaulted too, by a huge crazy mob (!), and honestly, she was surely in hell, and seeing death in front of her eyes, and it damn does not matter “how much of what they put in where”! It makes me cry to just think about that there is anyone wanting to “discuss” such things! This is the painful truth about our messed up male oriented societies, that one can actually “discuss” what was “real rape”, and what was “only a sexual abuse”, or “lesser”. For the woman who is going though such torture – as such things ARE defined as plain torture by Amnesty International for example – this is additional horror, and additional humiliation, additional pain, and additional disrespect of her humanity. I am grateful that someone is as respectful to call things by their real names, and not playing the horrors that happened down.

    As sad as this is, my own opinion on all is rather gloomy, I think this was no accident, and the “sudden mob” attacking only that particular female reporter as brutally as this was another planned mob assault, as they often happen in such countries (and some others). It is a tactic that was already used in ancient Greece and Rome, ESPECIALLY to silent women, often the mob torture peaked in the death of the assaulted person (again, it was usually a woman, often a woman who did not “follow the rules”). The sheer fact that a female, independent reporter was working “just like that” in a country, where so many women are living like in the Middle Ages, or even more ancient times, that sheer fact was enough to create literally an explosion of hate and bestiality. The only reason why women in “those countries” are so different from us, why they keep up being “silent”, wearing “clothes” looking like black sacks covering them completely like to annihilate their existence, and many other horrific things we do not even want to think about, all this comes exactly from such bestiality and all present violence. I have many (female) friends from the Middle East, since I live in a poor area of a big city, and virtually ALL of them have gone through brutal violence and sexual assaults of different stages, such things are basically normal in those places for most girls and women! It is a very very rare case for a girl to grow up in such countries and NOT to encounter worst violence and abuse, what is worse, such things are thought to be rightful and proper, and many women are so broken, that when older they themselves stage the horrors for the younger ones.

    I am sorry, I am getting too despaired here, but this is something I could not cope with for my entire life, in the name of “respect” or “acceptance of other cultures” so many “modern” countries simply look away from horror crimes committed daily. The Western reporter was saved and mourned, and this is good for her and good for all of us, but what happens to all the women and girls who are left at the mercy of such bestiality each day? Why do fanatical systems go on existing? Because of brutal violence, and the most brutal violence is always torture/rape.

    I am sorry for using an anonymous nickname, but I am a victim of such torture and mob assault myself, and I am simply afraid like hell. I respect this blog and it’s author very much, and do not intend to spam or write nonsense, and I am very grateful for this thoughtful post telling the things by their names. We need to give real names to the invisible, or the invisible will forever rule our lives.

    The sheer fact that there are places, where one can gather up a MOB of crazed, bestiality yearning people, is already telling the truth about how people grow up and live in such places, what horrors must be going on on a daily base. No one who is sane, and had an at least basically stable childhood, will EVER go on to commit such inhuman crimes! Even drugged most people would try to run away or resist or else. But there we can see hundreds of people gather up, burning with not ending hate to torture and possibly kill someone completely innocent and defenseless, and they are even so sure of themselves that they do it in the open, amongst others, in a public space. The amount of daily bestiality and inhumanity, and lack of security and basic rights in this country can only be horrifying.

    We, in our modern countries, live in a sort of “safety bubble” for most part, but this only goes so for those who are well off enough, or “white enough”, or otherwise “enough”. If a “proper” girl or boy gets assaulted, there is a huge public outcry, the case of Madeleine McCann comes to mind. But millions outside of that small safety bubble encounter another reality, and no one asks or cries after them for most part, quite the contrary, they end as the “chicks” in the magazines or pages “our” boys and men (and many girls and women) are so ambiguous about, actually nowadays one gets yelled at when one says “no, I do NOT enjoy porn, and no, please STOP talking about “***porn this” and “***porn that”, this is not fun, and NO, I am not a sexually deranged grandma, and I either do not wish to become a celibate nun, I am just sick of watching broken people performing inhuman things in front of cameras”. The “proper” children will be getting assaulted as long as this entire system exists, quite simple, as long as millions of women and children (and many men too) suffer such horrors, as long some of the “fine” Madeleines and Laras will get assaulted as well, since such giant bestiality machinery is constantly going on at all times, and there is not much we will be able to do, as long as that giant, ever suffering, unnamed mass of silently crying victims exists. That is why the “culture” of looking away, and “that is their business, and not ours” must end, or it will all get worse for all of us, as crimes and bestiality get more and more global and normal over the Internet.

    Comment by Betty — February 14, 2012 @ 3:09 am

  10. Thank you, Betty, for your honesty. I have great admiration for the courage it took for you to post your comment. When we stand up and articulate and shine a light on inhumanity, we are doing our part to challenge the Culture of Cruelty. I stand with you.

    Comment by Annie — February 14, 2012 @ 10:15 am

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