the author of this essay has asked to remain anonymous
I was 17 when it happened. I was a senior in high school, just about to graduate. I had my entire life ahead of me, and then it happened. It’s been almost three years, and every day I still think about it. For a majority of those three years, I blamed myself. I shouldn’t have been drinking, I shouldn’t have been in his apartment, I shouldn’t have told him I liked him the weekend before, I shouldn’t have been wearing a low-cut shirt.. Because maybe, just maybe if I could go back in time and change one of these factors, I wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted that night.
Half of the United States elected a man who has been accused of sexual assault and even said himself, “Grab her by the pussy.” People made excuses for him, saying he was joking, that it was so long ago it doesn’t matter anymore, it was just “locker room talk”. But, tell me, if it was just locker room talk, why are so many women being sexually assaulted? If it was just locker room talk, why am I even writing this?
America has a rape problem. We cannot deny this. America also has a victim blaming problem. We cannot deny this, either. According to Campus Sexual Violence: Statistics on Rainn.org, “Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” Yet only 20% of sexual assault cases are actually reported. Hundreds of women and men are being violated and nothing is being done about it. Why is this?
Well, let’s look at Brock Turner. Ah, yes. Brock Turner, the infamous “Stanford Swimmer”. The star athlete that raped an unconscious girl behind a trashcan. Yes, he physically violated a young college student, but major news outlets seemed to have only referred to him as a “Stanford swimmer”. He’s not. He was kicked off the swim team, banned from the prestigious campus and oh yeah, he’s a convicted rapist.
Fortunately, this athlete received time behind bars. A whole six months. He didn't even serve his whole sentence, though, because he was let go after three months for "good behavior". Wait, three months? That’s it? He did the unimaginable to another human being yet only faced 12 weeks in jail? You’re kidding right? Nope, I’m not! Unfortunately, his case is unique. Unique as in most convicted rapist never see the inside of a prison cell. One in a thousand reported attackers actually face time behind bars.
But concerned citizens, do not fret. Another attack will never happen on the Stanford campus again. The University banned hard alcohol at their parties, so it won’t, right? I mean, after all, clearly the alcohol is the only reason why she was raped. Once we start believing this false narrative, we find ourselves asking, why was she even drinking? Wasn’t she underage? That’s illegal! What was she wearing? A short skirt, low cut top? I don’t know, it kind of seems like she was asking for it, right? He’s a guy, how was he supposed to control himself?
These questions echo in the court rooms of every rape case, because for some reason it’s easier to blame her Mike’s Hard Lemonade and miniskirt than it is to hold the rapist accountable for his actions. We place the blame on the victims and show sympathy for the attackers. We’re one breath away from calling the victims sluts, then looking them in the eye and asking why they didn’t report it.
I didn’t report mine. I thought rape was walking home alone at night and having a bad guy jump out of the bushes. I didn’t realize the bad guy could be your friend, the bushes could be his apartment, and, instead of strolling the sidewalk at midnight, you’re fading in and out of intoxicated consciousness while he climbs on top of you. I blamed myself. I was embarrassed, ashamed and didn’t want anybody else to know. And because of my fear brought on by society, I have become a part of the 80% of unreported attacks statistic.
But what if she was lying? According to National Review, only 2-8% of reported rape cases are false accusations. So, are we going to ignore the other potential 98%? Are we going to continue pushing the false narrative that the victims are to blame? Are we going to continue questioning why cases aren’t reported, instead of creating safe environments for the ones who were attacked?
The answer is unfortunately all too clear. Our President is a man who has been quoted saying “you have to treat ‘em like shit.” And “It must be a pretty picture. You dropping to your knee." America speaks of women as if we’re property then tries to act shocked when we are physically treated as less than human. As long as a majority of citizens are defending comments like “grab her by the pussy”, we are not "making America great again", we are making America rape again.
If you have been sexually assaulted, here are a few outlets for you to find help and speak out. Please do not let your voice go silent, you are not alone and together we can help end the statistics.
"Campus Sexual Violence: Statistics | RAINN." Campus Sexual Violence: Statistics. RAINN, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.
Richwine, Jason. "That 'Only 2 to 8 Percent of Rape Accusations Are False' Stat Is Extremely Misleading." National Review. N.p., 06 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.
Lavender, Paige. "These Might Be Donald Trump’s Most Disgusting Comments Yet about Women." Huffington Post. N.p., 06 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.