23 April 2019
April is sexual assault awareness month, and according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. This is a widespread issue that negatively affects and changes lives.
Sexual assault is more common than many people think, and there is a lack of awareness surrounding the issue that could help with healing and prevention. Movements like “Me Too” and “TimesUp” have started beneficial conversations surrounding the issue, and have allowed many survivors to step forward and tell their story in order to help others feel as though they are not alone.
Even though these movements have given an outlet for important discussions and widespread acceptance and understanding, there is still a lack of knowledge surrounding how common this atrocity is in our world. According to NSVRC, 51.1 percent of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance. There is clearly a lack of awareness and prevention, since these statistics are shocking to most people.
Most people are or know of someone who is a victim of sexual assault, and without spreading awareness about these statistics, there will not be a change.
According to RAINN, on average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. This should not be a reality, but ignoring the facts will not help. We must insist on change, and this has to start with educating and making others’ aware of this terrible problem that plagues our society.
Many people turn a blind eye to the issue at hand until they become a victim, or someone they love. According to RAINN, every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. This makes the likelihood of becoming a victim or knowing a victim highly likely.
An article by The Cognitive Neuroscience Society it was found that there is a mismatch between media portrayals of “ideal victims”- young, sober women attacked at knifepoint in parking lots at night – and research on real-world victims- nearly three quarters of whom know the perpetrator (rising to nearly 90 percent on college campuses) and only 7% of whom were attacked with a firearm, knife, or other weapon.
Instead of not believing victims, or making excuses about why they were ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ or ‘had too much to drink’ we need to treat them as victims, and hear what they have to say. The perpetrator is should be the first person that is questioned, not the victim.
With rape and sexual assault being so common on college campuses, the awareness needs to be heightened. Students should be aware and well-educated on the facts and statistics that they are facing when they step foot on a college campus, sooner rather than later.
If we decide to not act on this issue, ignore it until it happens to us or someone we love, then sexual assault will only increase. Awareness needs to start now.