According to the RAINN Organization (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network):
1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
"Every 107 seconds, an American (man or woman) is sexually assaulted; that adds up to about 300,000 rape victims every year. 68% of rapes go unreported, and 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail."
That was the first time I realized I was not really in control of my own life. I could have decided not to go to that birthday party; that is true. But who could have seen something like that coming at a birthday party? What girl could have prevented that? Should I have stayed home that night? Should I just stay home every night?
Now, you may have a wealth of opinions about this topic. I've personally heard it all- "That's what happens when girls act provocatively, she was asking for it." "Well of course she was raped, look at that outfit, she was asking for it." "Why was she walking home alone? She was asking for it."
She was asking for it.
A Federal Commission on Crime of Violence Study found that only 4.4% of all reported rapes involved provocative behavior on the part of the victim. In fact, most convicted rapists have no memory of what their victims were wearing.
When people don't know it's happened to you, they are shockingly open with their cold-hearted and misguided opinions. But what's so shocking to me, is how many times I've heard that specific phrase- She was asking for it. It makes my blood boil. But what's worse, it has come from the mouths of men and women that I genuinely love and respect. How can this be? How can these people, who I know are good and loving people, have this twisted point of view? I can't help but feel like rape has become a boogie man. A shadow that you can escape by being smart. But it's not. Nothing short of locking yourself in a room alone will ensure you are safe. My aggressor was educated, had a loving family, and most importantly, I knew him. Not just in passing, mind you; I had known him for years. We went to the same school, lived in the same neighborhood, he was my boyfriend; and I never saw it coming. That night, I remember walking home from his birthday party. I felt numb and alone. And decided I would not tell a soul; and I didn't for 5 years.
Victims of sexual assault are:
- 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
- 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
- 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
- 26 times more likely to abuse drugs
- 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide
This is not a public service announcement. This is not a pity request. This is not a cry for help.
This is a plea to all of you out there to open your eyes to the dangerous truth that is painfully looming around every corner. TEACH your sons and daughters what RAPE means; don’t be afraid to talk about it. They need to know how to protect themselves, they need to know how to protect others. Nothing will ever change unless we start taking the educating and nurturing of our young men and women more seriously.
Nothing was ever solved through silence. No darkness was ever overcome by diverting the light. The conversation needs to happen and it needs to happen more often than just the occasional headline or blog post. When we stop talking about it we stop recognizing it as the immediate and gruesome crime against humanity that it is; and that is not too strong of language to describe rape. With 1 in 4 women having experienced rape, you more than likely socialize with at least one person who has been raped. And yet you probably haven't the slightest idea as to how that experience has carved out a path of very particular struggles for that individual, most of which they have walked alone because society has communicated loud and clear that we do not want to hear about their experience; that it does not concern us; that they are better off keeping quiet. Psychologists have concluded that the PTSD experienced by combat veterans is no different than the psychological trauma experienced after being raped. Soldiers are trained, prepared, and conditioned to not just experience, but to survive war. A teenage girl was never told to prepare for rape, much less told how to survive the trauma. She needs to know that she's not alone. She needs to know that we're ready to listen.