Sexual assault is an issue that greatly impacts our campus (and all other campuses), even if the police reports and numbers compiled by the university for Clery Act do not reflect that reality. Many of us know friends who have been assaulted on campus or at parties, by friends, their significant others or a random partygoer, and in most cases, people do not say anything in fear of retribution or causing a scene.
Cases of sexual assault are highly underreported. People do not like to talk about it because the topic makes them uncomfortable. This leads to a perpetuation of misconceptions regarding rape, sexual assault, sexual violence and partner abuse. The secrecy and silence shrouding cases of sexual assault and rape propagates a culture of blame that stigmatizes the survivor rather than the attacker. Survivors are often discouraged from stepping forth and reporting any of these crimes because these crimes not taken seriously.
73 percent of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger, according to statistics gathered from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Many people, particularly many college students, hold the misconception that most instances of sexual assault or sexual violence are committed by “strangers jumping out of a bush.” This outdated myth severely skews our perceptions of where the dangers and risks lie and provides college students with a false security net. Unfortunately, it’s people that we know who we need to be wary of. Though these statistics slightly vary depending on the source and methodology used, the evidence makes one thing overwhelming clear: stranger danger is not the problem. As individuals we need to remain alert and cognizant of our surroundings and of whom we surround ourselves with, especially in situations where alcohol or drugs are involved.
Sexual assault is unacceptable. Instead of pushing these issues under the rug and saving them for a more appropriate time, we need to discuss the problem now. There will never be a suitable time to discuss such touchy topics. A lack of openness, acceptance and dialogue sends the message to survivors that what happened to them does not merit enough significance to be discussed or addressed. It also tells attackers that they weren’t in the wrong or that they likely are not going to be caught (97 percent of rapists never spend a single day in jail).
We must shatter the silence on our campus, place the blame on the appropriate individuals and hold them accountable for their terrible actions.
Sexual assault is preventable. It’s stoppable. It’s time we had that conversation.
Which is why The E3 Initiative is putting on an awareness campaign called “CODE T.E.A.L.” starting Monday. CODE T.E.A.L. is a weeklong initiative intending to create a campus dialogue about sexual assault awareness and its prevalence and relevance on our campus. It also intends to ““T.E.A.L.” our campus by getting students to TALK and EDUCATE others about the issue and ADVOCATE and LISTEN to survivors. This campaign targets all students regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Throughout the week there will be various awareness events designed to demonstrate the prevalence of sexual assault on our campus (given the statistics) through facts, stories and numbers.
At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24 in Laurie Auditorium, Trinity will host nationally acclaimed speaker Natalie Ehmka who advocates empowerment and respect for others with her story of strength and survival. Natalie will cover safe dating, sexual assault awareness, empowerment, healthy relationships and dating violence prevention among other topics. The keynote covers more than sexual assault: it’s about healthy relationships, which found the basis of our social, academic, and professional lives. There will be free CODE T.E.A.L. T-Shirts, generously provided by ASR, available to the first 75 students who donate a canned good or five dollars. The donations will benefit the Rape Crisis Center and the Battered Women’s Shelter.
Wrapping up CODE T.E.A.L., Alpha Chi Lambda is putting on its third annual self-defense workshop from 1-4 p.m. next Sunday in Webster Gym in the Bell Center. Free CODE T.E.A.L. t-shirts will be provided to the first 25 women who sign up for the workshop in Coates. Women can sign-up in Coates all next week at the Alpha Chi/CODE T.E.A.L. Table.
Sexual assault happens every two minutes in the United States. Don’t let yourself or your friends become another statistic.
Information compiled from RAINN, the E3 Initiative, and Pretty Feisty.
Avantika Krishna is a sophomore majoring in human communication and bussiness administration