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Dealing with insensitive remarks & jokes


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Dealing with insensitive remarks and jokes

This coping sheet covers tips and suggestions for dealing with insensitive remarks and jokes about sexual assault, compiled from members' own contributions on the topic.

Remember that not every idea will work for every individual, nor in every situation – but there are plenty of ideas here to think about, well done everyone!

- Ignore the comments, or the people who make them

- Talk to a friend or family member afterwards about how you feel

- Confront the person who made the comment

- Take deep breaths/count to ten

- Try to accept that you can't change every insensitive person, and that sometimes it's not worth the fight

- Vent to a close friend or on Pandy's – tell them what you wish you had said at the time

- Explain to the person who made the comment that it isn't funny, but is in fact rude/ignorant/incorrect

- Try to think of reasons why this person may be blaming the victim – they could be unconsciously trying to put themselves and their friends/family in a safe box. If it was something the victim did, then others can keep it from happening to them, and therefore their world gets to stay nice and safe where bad things don't affect them

- Remember that many people hide behind humour to protect themselves from the reality of scary and awful things

- Try to educate rather than lecture if you choose to confront someone – you could use statistics to back up what you are saying about the magnitude of the problem, or bring the subject home by asking the other person to think about how they would feel if someone made these remarks about someone they cared about such as a sibling or partner

- Prepare a generic comeback for an insensitive remark, so that you are always prepared

- Joke back – to a joke about sexual assault, reply with a joke about their ignorance – this can get the point across without changing the mood, but hopefully will also get people to think about how stupid their remarks are

- If someone is using words out of context, by putting them back in the right context it makes them realize not to do it in front of you anymore. For example: "That computer is so gay." You might reply: "Oh yeah? Does that computer like other computers?" The same concept could be used when people joke about how they got 'raped' by an exam or something ridiculous like that

- Try to focus not on the one negative person, but instead focus on those who are supportive and understanding

- A quote from Love, Ellen by Betty Degeneres, about Ellen Degeneres dealing with comments about homosexuality: "Ellen used to say, 'I'd be performing for two thousand people, and one guy in the front wouldn't be laughing--and I'd care about him.' Remember, there are 1,999 other people who may be open to listening, to supporting tolerance and love. So that one person is going to feel pretty outnumbered pretty darn soon if we keep building gay-straight alliances where everybody comes together. One day he's going to feel like the people he's been making fun of."

- Remember that we are all ignorant about some things – many survivors were once ignorant about sexual assault themselves

- The best way to beat ignorance isn't by getting angry or upset (although sometimes we can't help it!), it's by helping the person understand that what they've done is wrong

- Journal to write down how you feel and process things

- Try a cold stare followed by, "Honestly, I don't know why you would say such a thing," or, "Wow. That was a very hurtful thing to say. I don't understand why you would say something like that."

- Be honest to the person about how their comment made you feel

- "Do you know how many people in this room have been affected by rape? Would you joke about cancer? Most likely not, so why joke about rape?"

- Write a letter to the people who made the comment and post it on Pandy's – this may help you to process what happened by putting it into words and expressing how you feel; working out what you want to say and then being heard can be very therapeutic

- If you have to be blunt to get the message across, try not to feel bad about ruining the atmosphere – they were alienating you and making you feel bad, so why should you feel guilty for making them feel a bit uneasy?

- Try to stay calm

- Sarcasm: "Hahaha, yeah, oh man, rape is soooo hilarious, you're cracking me up!"

- Be serious: tell them in a serious way about how those kinds of jokes make you feel and why, and ask them would you like me to joke about something which hurts you?

- Take them aside and tell them that you have been hurt, and ask them nicely not to joke about that topic in front of you

- If confrontation will do more harm than good, sometimes it is best to hold your tongue

- "I'm glad you find it funny, because I don't"

- On social-networking sites, simply remove or block the person concerned – you don't need people like that in your life

- Repeat the serenity prayer in your head

- Leave the room/walk away from the situation

- Write down the comment to "let go" of it from going round and round in your head; try journaling about why the comment was hurtful, or why the argument was flawed, etc

- Ask a close friend or your partner to help you deflect those comments if you don't feel comfortable saying something yourself

- Make a rule with your friends that it is never okay to make jokes like that

- Say: "As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I find absolutely nothing humorous in what you've just said" – then walk away

- Avoid or limit your interaction with people who make insensitive comments

- If the jokes are being made within a group, ignore the comments at the time, then talk with individuals one-on-one later when they are more likely to be receptive to a serious discussion

- On social-networking sites, report the jokes to the moderators to resolve

- Try to remember that the stupid joke or comment is not necessarily a direct attack on you

- Do as Maya Angelou would do… She would say she would get up and leave the room without saying a word. She says it's not worth your energy to sit there and confront someone, because if they didn't mean what they said they wouldn't have said it to begin with, so why choose to sit there giving them your attention and be a part of the ugliness. By removing yourself, you remove their power, or in this case their "punchline"

- Try to change the topic

- Remember that the comments and actions are a reflection of them, not you

- Remind yourself that what was said was just words; words don't always have meaning

- Compliment yourself in your head

- Do something that you enjoy, which takes your whole concentration. Tailor your activity to how you feel: if you are upset, snuggle down in a duvet and watch a fluffy film; if you are angry, something more active like exercising may be best

- Try gardening: nurturing a little seed into a (let's say) tomato plant and being able to pick a fresh tomato off of it can be very therapeutic. Being out with nature, seeing the miracles of nature and the beauty around. Stop and smell the roses – there are more things in life than the people who make these comments. Plus on those bad days, you can always go out and pick weeds, and pretend that they are the idiots (another one bites the dust!)

- Write poetry

- Know that you do not deserve cruelty from anyone

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