It's Time We Speak Up

The month of April is dedicated to raising awareness for sexual assault and domestic violence. With shows like 13 Reasons Why becoming the newest TV obsession, it is time for us to discuss sexual assault. As a female, I understand the struggle. I know what it’s like to get cat-called and for men to think they’re superior to me—that they’re allowed to say what they want about my body and about my appearance. I know what it’s like when a man gets mad when I say “no” or when I turn him down. Everyday, I see examples of sexual assault on college campuses; I see victims looking for help and blaming themselves for something that wasn’t their fault. I see girls getting in trouble in school for breaking dress code…a code that claims boys can’t pay attention if they can see a girl’s shoulders. We all see these examples, and it’s time we talk about how to help.

I haven’t finished watching 13 Reasons Why yet, but I read the book in middle school. If you’ve seen it and you don’t understand how what you say to people and how you treat them can definitely affect them, then you need to watch it again. Furthermore, we need to start speaking up. A large part of the series revolves around what people didn’t say, and then how they weren’t able to say it once someone is gone. If you see something happening that you know is wrong, we need to have the courage to stop it. We need the courage to say something. This series showed the realness of sexual assault. How would you feel if it happened to your friend, your sister, or even to you? What would you do?

Volunteering is an exceptional way to be an advocate for sexual assault. Volunteering helps to learn more about sexual assault and what we can do about it. Donating clothing and time is extremely important for sexual assault survivors. Clothing can be anything from professional attire to a pair of jeans. Talk to local shelters about what supplies they need. Learn what to say if someone comes to you for help. Provide resources and information to help them. Learn the warning signs and how to offer support. Actually listen to them—don’t judge, don’t make ultimatums, and allow the victim to be honest. And yes, they are a victim. It doesn’t matter who the assaulter was and it doesn’t matter what the victim was wearing. This subject isn’t easy, but we can help.