When I was a kid, I used to go over to friend’s houses and notice that their parents never seemed to bully them or hit them. I assumed this was just because they had a friend over, and that their parents terrorized them all the time when I wasn’t around. I didn’t identify my situation as abuse or reach out to a teacher or counselor because I thought everyone had to live through this. I was probably twenty by the time I realized that some families really don’t humiliate and belittle their kids, ever.
I wish someone had gotten that through to me. I wish instead of saying vaguely and uncomfortably “you can talk to the counselor if you have problems at home,” my teachers had said flat-out “it is not normal to be afraid of your parents, and not normal to be unhappy whenever you’re at home, and you can ask us if you’re not sure if something’s okay or not.” I wish someone could have taught me that wanting to be safe was human instead of selfish.
And I’m probably going to make a whole post about this so I won’t belabor the point right now, but this is why feminists care about media and memes that normalize rape. (Or that stigmatize the words “rape” and “rapist,” but enthusiastically normalize the act of forcing sex on people, as long as you don’t call it that.) Because it tells people that rape is normal, that it’s a popular and accepted way to express romance and/or dominance, and we can’t assume that everyone absorbing this culture knows “of course that’s not how it really works.”"