Sexual assault is not a millennial issue. It’s not even strictly a woman’s issue. Sexual assault is a human issue. It involves people of every race, every religion, every gender, and every sexuality. Women are raped and rape. Men are rape and are raped. Sometimes it makes the headlines but most of the time it is over looked, brushed under the rug, or ignored. Why is this? Why do we as people let such horrific acts slide? Why do we ignore them? Why do we victim blame? Why do we let those responsible get away with it?
Is it because we don’t want to acknowledge that these things happen? Because if we do does that mean it could happen to us? Are we afraid that our children could have been exposed? What is it that makes sexual assault so taboo?
I’ll admit, this topic for this post didn’t come out of the blue. I recently watched the award winning movie, Spotlight, and yeah, it was an eye opener. As a Catholic it was horrifying. As a woman and a feminist it is the stuff of nightmares. How could the Church, an institution that I have been a part of since birth, be so cavalier with this? How could we as people let this continue and why haven’t we done more to stop it?
Sexual assault is not something that we should continue to ignore. It is a disease that is eating away at our nation and we cannot look the other way.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one and sixteen men will be raped in their lifetime and 63% of all rapes go unreported (NSVRC). Those are some staggering statistics. So this begs the question, why do so many rape and sexual assault cases go unreported?
I may not be able to give a complete answer but I sure as hell can give some insight. Think about this: the case of Brock Turner, a college athlete that was accused and tried for the rape of an unidentified woman. I’m sure if you are up to date with the news you remember this case. The majority of Turner’s defense rested on the woman’s state of mind during the incident; she was drunk.
Soon that’s all people talked about. She got herself drunk, she was asking for it, she said yes while she was under the influence of alcohol. All regards of consent and the very nature of consent thrown out the window. Brock was a Freshman and a promising athlete. He had a lot to loose if he was convicted. Never mind there was DNA evidence and eyewitness accounts. It was all about the woman he raped. It was her fault for getting drunk.
That’s why sexual assault is so under reported, in my opinion. Because of how quickly it falls back on the victim.Their names get dragged through the mud while their perpetrators are seen as the victim. What they wear, what state of mind they were in, it all somehow gets turned against them and they are doubted. They are seen as money grabbers or people who want attention.
And then there are the critics who will point fingers and claim that it is a false accusation. That these people want to slander the names of good people, that they are just making all of this up for money. Well, here is what I have to say to that: the rate of false reporting is between 2 to 10% (NSVRC). 2 to 10%. That’s not a whole lot so that kind of stomps all over the claim that the victims just want money.
The media and their viewers see these people not as the victims they are but opportunists, dead set on ruining some poor man’s life. So rather than face this undeserved ridicule, they don’t report it. They let it go. After all, history has shown that the courts won’t take their side.
Which brings me to my next point. Brock Turner was found guilty of raping an unconscious woman. But he only served three months of his six month sentence. Three months. He raped an unconscious woman and only got six months jail time. He only served three months. Why report the assault at all if your attacker is just going to spend a few months in jail after violating your agency, your body, your life? What good will it do?
This is why sexual assault is such an important issue. This is why we can no longer look the other way. Our friends, neighbors, family members, people we pass on the street, children, the disabled, and the vulnerable are at risk of falling into the hands of a sexual predator. RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline reports that there are 321,500 victims of rape and sexual assault in the United States each year…each year (RAINN).
We have to be the ones to stop this. To raise our children to understand consent and agency. To teach them right verses wrong, what is acceptable and what it not. To understand that the way a person dresses does not give consent, that saying yes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not consent.
We need to stop blaming the victim. We need to attack this systemic problem that is facing our nation. Stop treating sexual assault like it is nothing, stop normalizing it.
If you haven’t already, you should watch Spotlight. It was a truly eye opening movie that will get you thinking and hopefully enrage you enough to start making a difference.
Sexual assault is not a millennial issue nor is it a woman’s issue. It’s a human issue.
We as people need to step up, speak out, and stop sexual assault.
Learn more about sexual assault and how you can prevent it by visiting these sites:
Donate, volunteer, and speak up. Together we can end sexual assault.