Sexual Assault Awareness Month

To be sexually assaulted is to have any type of sexual contact or behavior occur without the explicit consent of the recipient. While in college, 1 out of 5 women will experience some type of sexual assault. As a female college student, that is one of the most disheartening statistics I’ve ever heard. The emotional trauma that sexual assault victims go through, and continue to go through after their assaults is both unbearable and indescribable to most people. April is the one-month out of the year that is dedicated to spreading awareness about sexual assault (although I think we should spread awareness every month). In recognition of this month and of women who have been sexually assaulted, here are some reminders of what you should never say to a victim of sexual assault (or just in general to anyone, ever):

 

1. “How much did you have to drink?” “What were you wearing?” “Are you sure you didn’t lead him on?”

Just because someone is drinking alcohol does not mean they are asking to be sexually assaulted. Just because a woman is wearing a dress or a skirt doesn’t mean you have permission to touch her. Just because a woman smiles or talks to you doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to have sex with her at the end of the night.

 

2. “She had it coming, she sleeps with everyone anyways.” Or any other version of calling someone a slut.

Slut shaming has been around for a long time, but it’s time it finally comes to an end. A woman can have sex with as few or as many people as she wants, and no one else deserves a say in that. The number of sexual partners a woman has never justifies assault. Women have the right to say yes or no to whomever they want.

 

3. “Just stop thinking about it.” “Don’t let it define you.” “It’s been long enough, get over it.”

If a sexual assault victim could stop thinking about their assault, I’m sure they would. No one else gets to decide how a person handles their mental and emotional trauma. There is no deadline as to when the pain finally goes away and no guarantee it will ever go away.

4. “Your anxiety isn’t real.”

Again, you can not tell someone what they can and cannot feel, nor can you control what goes on in their heads. Sexual assault victims may experience PTSD, and you cannot tell them that's not real.

5.  “I don’t believe you.”

I don’t think there could be anything worse than opening up to someone about being sexually assaulted and having that person think you’re lying. The thought of anyone lying about a traumatic experience is something I can not even comprehend and the courage that it takes for a victim to open up is a courage unlike any other.

If you know a victim of sexual assault please reach out to them this month. If women don’t support one another we’re only hindering ourselves.