The Reality of Sexual Assault

Credit: Her Campus
Credit: Her Campus

It’s 2016, but for some reason we are still in the stone ages when it comes to spreading awareness about the realities of sexual assault. We see it every day on the news and even on campus. Young women across the country are being sexually assaulted, yet we haven’t made a change. It’s literally right in front of our faces, what more of a wakeup call do we need?

According to RAINN, “every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Meanwhile only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”

They also stated that “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 9 of every 10 victims of rape are female.”

When it comes to college campuses, “women ages 18-24 are at an elevated risk of sexual violence. Sexual violence is more prevalent at college, compared to other crimes. Only 20 percent of female student victims age 18-24, report to law enforcement. Only 32 percent of non-student females the same age do make a report.”

I know that is a lot of statistics, but I think it’s important to educate yourself on what is going on. The numbers are right in front of your face. It’s obvious that we need to make a change.

Young women should not have to be afraid of getting raped. I know it happens to men as well, but sadly women are at more of a risk according to statistics. We shouldn’t have to be scared to walk from the library back to our rooms because we might get raped. We shouldn’t have to be scared to go out to our cars at night. We shouldn’t have to worry about being sexual assaulted literally at any time or place.

A majority of higher institutions and government have let women across America down. We see people like Brock Turner and famous athletes get out with little to no consequences while the women who were sexually assaulted have to live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. How is this okay? It’s not.

It hits a little closer to home when I see research about sexual assault victims come straight from my university. The University of Oklahoma Psychology Clinic conducted research on sexual assault that was published in April of 2016.

The OU Daily, recently published an article discussing the research. It said that “out of 823 students surveyed 152 said they had been sexually assaulted at OU.”

Credit: OUDaily
Credit: OUDaily

That is just at OU. That number horrifies me. People come to college to get an education, not to be fearful or even experience first hand sexual assault. That number is already 19 percent, but just think of how much higher it would be if they didn’t ask about sexual assault specifically at OU?

OU President David Boren is quoted in the article saying that “[He has] always felt that the problem (sexual assault) is very significant. That’s one of the reasons why [He] wanted to make sure that we had a very strong Title IX program and why [He wants] a hotline – because [He is] not surprised. [He knows] we’ve got a problem and that colleges all across the country have a problem, but it’s an understandable problem.”

Please tell me how this is “an understandable problem?” How is sexual assault ever understandable? Let me answer that for you – it’s not. We can’t let sexual assault be the new normal. It’s not okay.

The article also said that “in January 2015, the Title IX office distanced itself from the survey – (Lisa) Frey said the office withdrew its support from the research, but Assistant Title IX Director Kathleen Smith said the office asked to delay the survey. The researchers are concerned that their report was met with relative silence.”

Sexual assault is a prevalent issue on college campuses. We have to pay attention. Universities have to pay attention. The country as a whole has to pay attention.

A relatively new slogan on OU’s campus is “Not on OUr campus.” It’s goal is to suggest that at the University of Oklahoma we don’t allow things like sexual assault, yet that is not how everyone interprets it.

The article quotes Scott Secor, a third year doctoral student in counseling psychology. He said that “[He thinks] for a lot of people who have survived this (sexual assault) , it actually constitutes a denial that (sexual assault) is happening on our campus.”

We can’t deny that sexual assault is happening on our campus, and thousands of other campuses across America. The facts are right in front of our face. It is happening, but many of those who have experienced sexual assault are too afraid to come forward for various reasons. A lot of people feel like nobody will believe them, so they try to deal with the pain on their own. We have to make sure that we open the conversation about sexual assault, so more people will feel safe coming forward.

Finally, the article quotes Boren again. He said that “we try to really train students about (sexual violence), and you try to also say, ‘Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re incapable of saying no.’ Can we eradicate the problem? Not any more than we can eradicate human nature.”

“Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re incapable of saying no?” How about we teach boys about consent. How about we teach boys to be gentlemen and not force themselves onto women – drunk or sober. We can’t blame the victims. It doesn’t matter if they are drunk or sober – no woman deserves that.

Boren did release a statement regrading this OU Daily article via Twitter (@President_Boren). He said “I realize that we live in a world in which people try to interpret what other’s are attempting to say. Let me make it 100 percent clear, I emphatically believe that it is wrong to ever put the blame on a victim of sexual assault or misconduct. It is a core value of all of the many programs on our campus put in place to combat sexual misconduct, to never put blame on the victim. It is also a violation of my personal values and beliefs. We have stretched resources at OU to support programs aimed at minimizing sexual misconduct. I could not more strongly support these efforts in minimizing sexual assault and misconduct on our campus.”

It was a smart public relations move for Boren to release a statement following the OU Daily article, but OU students want action and not just words. Yes, there are sexual assault programs in place, but obviously we need some stronger actions. We have to eliminate this new “norm.”

Things like this are happening all over the world, not just at OU. You see the facts. You see what is going on across America. We have to make a change. We as in those who have experienced sexual assault. We as in women who don’t want to be scared to be alone on a daily basis. We as in men that realize sexual assault in not okay. We as in people of the world that want a change.

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