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You Are Not a Victim: Speaking Out Against Sexual Assault

It is estimated that nearly 25 percent of all sexual assaults in the United States occur on college and university campuses. It is also estimated that out of every 1,000 women who attend college, there will be 35 incidents of rape in an academic year. Yet, less than one in five women who experience sexual assault seek help from a rape counseling center. There are various reasons for this unwillingness to get support. Some women feel that they don’t need outside help, while others are too ashamed to discuss what happened to them. Some even blame themselves for the abuse. All of these ideas are completely normal, yet false.

Society says that women who experience sexual assault are victims. This is not true. These women are survivors. They are fighters: they are strong and they survived their attack. Women who experience sexual assault are no different after their attack then they were before. Rape or sexual harassment does not make them any less of a person. In fact, it can make them stronger. They survived a traumatic event and that alone is challenging for anyone. Seeking help after this event does not make them weak. It proves how strong they are and reaffirms their will to survive and to heal.

This idea that women are victims is the root of many misconceptions of dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse. The word “victim” implies that the person is no longer in control and they were beaten by what happened to them. It is time for sexual assault survivors to take back control and to move past their abuse. Women are more than their abuse. They did not cause what happened to them, but they can control what happens next. Counseling centers and sexual abuse hotlines are great tools to help women reclaim their lives and fight the negative effects of rape.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault, just know that you are not alone. You are not broken or stained by this. You are more than your abuse and you will heal. Most importantly, you are not a victim. You are survivors.  

Some helpful resources:

Emmanuel College Counseling Center: located on the first floor of the Administration building

Emmanuel College Campus Safety: 24 hour Response Team number is (617) 735-9888

The Boston Rape Counseling Center: located in Cambridge and online at www.barcc.org


Recent grad who majored in psychology and minored in English literature at Emmanuel College in Boston. Desk Assistant for Residence Life, part time writer, and fully acclimated transfer student at EC. Cat video enthusiast. Special skills include: being boss at Cards Against Humanity, knowing way too much Harry Potter trivia and becoming emotionally attached to fictional characters. Loving life and hoping to one day make a difference.
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