Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They’re Worthless, Dirty, And Filthy

by darth frosty 14 Replies latest jw friends

  • darth frosty
    darth frosty

    Hopefully not a repost but I found this article and her take very insightful...And of course it has strainds of WT like control!


    Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They're Worthless, Dirty, And Filthy

    By Tara Culp-Ressler on May 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Elizabeth Smart, human trafficking victim and sexual violence prevention advocate

    Elizabeth Smart became a household name after she was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, UT at the age of 14 and held in captivity for nine months. She was forced into a polygamous marriage, tethered to a metal cable, and raped daily until she was rescued from her captors nine months later. Smart was recovered while she and her kidnappers were walking down a suburban street, leading many Americans who followed her story on the national news to wonder:Why didn't she just run away as soon as she was brought outside?

    Speaking to an audience at Johns Hopkins about issues of human trafficking and sexual violence, Smart recently offered an answer to that question. She explained that some human trafficking victims don't run away because they feel worthless after being raped, particularly if they have been raised in conservative cultures that push abstinence-only education and emphasize sexual purity:

    Smart said she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn't run "because of that alone."

    Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.

    "I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value."

    Now in her mid-twenties, Smart runs a foundation to help educate children about sexual crimes. She now believes that children should grow up learning that "you will always have value and nothing can change that."

    Social psychologists and sexual abuse counselors agree that comprehensive sex education can help prevent sexual crimes. Teaching children about their bodies gives them the tools to describe acts of abuse without feeling as embarrassed or uncomfortable, and it also helps elevate their self-confidence and sense of bodily autonomy. A shame-based approach to genitalia and sexuality, on the other hand, sends kids the message that they can't discuss or ask questions about any of those issues.

    Nonethless, abstinence-only education programs have a long history of imparting harmful messages that shame youth about their sexuality instead of teaching them the facts they needto safeguard their health. A high school in West Virginia recently made national headlines after hosting a conservative religious speaker who allegedly told students "if you take birth control, your mother probably hates you" and "I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you're going to be promiscuous." In Smart's home state of Utah - which is home to a large religiously conservative Mormon community - sex education is currently mandated, but lawmakers have repeatedly pushed to weaken the state law and reinstate an abstinence-only curriculum.

  • sir82

    Bet that doesn't make "Watching the World".

  • *lost*

    jesus christ - plese tell me I am mis-understanding the meaning of the post here.

    Please tell me that this is not a bashing fest against a woman was kidnapped, raped and tortured form the ageof 14 ???

    and what precisely has the WT got to do with it ?

  • Simon

    I think you have completely misread it.

    The gist of it is the harm that the religious message of "abstinence == 'good'" can have on rape victims.

    If sex == bad / dirty / evil then it's harder for a victim to accept their own self worth.

    No one should be made to feel worthless or dirty, even someone who choses to have sex but especially someone who has been forced against their will.

  • *lost*

    Thank you Simon I'm so glad that I have misunderstood it.

    edit to add; and now i understand the angle it's coming from.

  • designs

    It is amazing to see how Elizabeth Smart has recovered and how well she is doing. The news this week of the three young women who were abducted and held captive for a decade is a testament to their stamina and will to survive. As a parent I am shaken that such things happen. Glad they lived and are reunited with their familes.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Elizabeth Smart is risking her privacy to warn how abstinence education could keep someone captive b/c of misplaced shame.

  • darth frosty
    darth frosty


    I love the fact she is shinning the spot light on this hidden aspect of teaching abstinance. So often we simply think of not understanding sex teenage pregnacy etc. But the deeper effect it can have is stunning. I never would have considered this angle if she were not brave enough and willing to share and put the spotlight on this.

  • flipper

    DARTH- Very good thread. Thanks for posting. Elizabeth Smart is a brave young lady to come out and confront religious ignorance and how it spreads fear and stupidity regarding this isue. Many religions do everything the can to promote uneeded guilt and fear in young people and organized religion is generally to blame for causing sex to be treated as " dirty " or " shameful ". It's ridiculous. If there is a " God " he wouldn't have made sex feel so good if it was a negative or bad. Religions need to get a clue

  • tresdecu

    I have a ton of respect for Ms Smart. What a strong girl! Did she leave mormanism or is she just 'inactive'?

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