The Fact About Sexual Assault

“Why couldn’t you just keep your legs closed?”“Dressing provocatively is like dangling meat in front of a lion.”“Why didn’t you run away?”“You should have screamed for help.”“You can do anything. Grab them by the p---y. Anything you want.”

Did you know that 1 in 5 women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime? Nearly half of those assaults will go unreported for two reasons: 1) victim blaming and 2) fear. Sexual assault has almost become an epidemic in the United States, and as the number of cases goes up, so do the negative attitudes of society towards the victims. The topic of sexual assault in American society has become taboo, and with electing a President who openly condones the sexual violence and assault against women, it’s time to start speaking out.

Definition

First, let’s define what the difference is between sexual assault and sexual harassment. According to RAINN, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment.” It can occur under any circumstance, at any given time, and in any given place. According to the U.S. Army’s SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention), sexual assault is defined as the “intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, threats, intimidation or abuse of authority, and when the victim physically cannot or does not consent… It includes rape, forcible sodomy, and other unwanted sexual contacts that is abusive, aggravated, or wrong.”

Rape

When a woman is raped, society automatically assumes that it is her fault. We assume she was drunk. Maybe she was dressed too provocatively. She could have pushed her attacker away and ran for help. She waited too long to report it. Why is that? Why do we automatically just assume that she must have done something wrong? In reality, she did nothing wrong. When you find yourself in a frightening situation, your body automatically goes into fight or flight mode. But sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming, and the shock can paralyze a person, rendering them still and motionless, almost as if they were playing dead. And many times, victims of sexual assault often know their attackers, thus making it harder for them to come forward and report the assault.

Victim

Ladies, listen up. If you are or were a victim of sexual assault, it is and was not your fault. It doesn’t matter if you were drunk, high as a kite, or walking home by yourself at two in the morning. It doesn’t matter if you were wearing a dress that was a little too tight or cut too low. It doesn’t matter if at first, you decided you were into it, and then changed your mind. If you clearly said no, then you meant no. Even if you were physically unable to say the word “No,” it still doesn’t give a man the right to take advantage of you.Theoretically, we shouldn’t be walking home alone in the dark at two in the morning, but we should be able to feel safe in doing so. We shouldn’t have to be looking over our shoulders for Jack the Ripper to jump out and grab us. Our fathers, mothers, brothers, boyfriends, and girlfriends shouldn’t have to worry about buying us mace on a keychain. We should all know how to defend ourselves by taking self-defense classes, but we shouldn’t have to worry about using it constantly.When we are at school, we shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked at a Frat party and then being expelled for making false accusations or humiliated and told that we should have been the ones to prevent the attack. False accusations do happen, but those are few and far between. If you are a woman who has been promiscuous in the past, it doesn’t mean you asked to be attacked.You did not ask for your body, your space, your sense of safety to be invaded. Shattered. Broken. Please do not feel ashamed and let this define you as a person. It does not define who you are, nor will it ever. The only thing that will change is that you are now a SURVIVOR. Never forget that.For more statistics on rape, check out these links:National Sexual Violence Resource Center – Statistics About Sexual ViolenceNational Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence – Sexual Assault StatisticsResources for Survivors of Sexual Assault:The DailyDotWomensLaw.org