I am ashamed of the fact that I have not blogged all semester. The original plan was that I would get back to it after I took my LSAT at the end of September, but the semester just picked up and got away from me.
Now, with the second snow day in a row I am running out of things to do around the house and thought, “why not take the time to write?” I just finished my senior thesis defense on a topic I have become an expert at all semester: Sexual assault on college campuses. I want to share in this post some of my discoveries with you because this is a very sensitive issue in society. It is one that I feel needs to be addressed, especially for students in college because individuals between the ages of 18-24 are at the greatest risk. I could write blog post after blog post about the many elements of this issue for others to understand the size and complexity, but first I’ll start with some known statistics:
1 in 5 women will be victims of attempted or completed sexual assault while in college
That number is about 1 in 71 for men
9 out of 10 offenders are known to their victim
2/3 of rapes occur off-campus in student housing or near the living quarters
2/3 of victims disclose that they have been raped to a close friend
and about 54.6% of victims used alcohol or drugs before the incident occurred
The reality is that for college students, sexual assault occurs with someone they know, late at night, in an off-campus setting, and usually drugs and/or alcohol are involved.
One of the biggest parts of this issue is defining consent because it is when someone’s right to consent is taken away out of force, or due to a threat, or the absence of a no is taken as a yes, assault occurs. Defining consent has been an ongoing struggle for years and recently this August California took advancements to say what it is not in their ‘yes means yes’ law. It is NOT the absence of a no, and it is NOT a lack of resistance. A “no” should NOT be rejected, it should be respectfully accepted. Individuals always have a choice in something even as simple as a “yes” or a “no”, and fearing how the partner may respond should not keep them from having a say.
This is an issue for men and women. Unfortunately, the statistics are underreported. Victims may not come forward because they are unsure if what happened could be defined as rape, maybe they do not have enough evidence, maybe they blame themselves for what happened, and maybe they are afraid to tell someone because of how they will be perceived.
There needs to be more communication in our culture about sexual assault and how individuals can take part in preventing and protecting not only themselves, but others too. In a world where now we are connected with others through the internet and social media, we have the power to speak our minds and share our stories with others. We have the power to get individuals talking and inviting not only women, but men to into the conversation because it affects them as well. On a united front we have the power to help victims know that although they cannot change their past, they do have the power to change the outcome of their future. We have the power to be educated about this issue and intervene in situations that seem risky to us through bystander intervention. We have the power to help someone so that there is on less: one less incident, one less, victim, and one less opportunity to speak up. (a huge focus point in my thesis)
I thank each reader for taking the time to read this. It is such an important issue that needs to come to the forefront on college campuses. Please comment below if you guys would be interested in me posting more specifically on certain aspects of this issue so that we as a community can become more educated and aware about sexual assault and the challenges it brings in our world today.