I’m finally ready to speak out about the hot topic of discussion and I’m praying that I have my friends’ and family’s support. This is reality -- one in four women will be sexually assaulted on a college campus.
Not sure when it will happen? College women are most vulnerable to rape during the first few weeks of their freshman and sophomore years.
This statistic makes me shocked and appalled: 95.2% of rapes on college campuses will never be reported according to the Department of Justice.
This needs to be brought to people’s attention and it needs to be addressed now. I’m genuinely concerned for the women on college campuses and the prospective female students that have no clue how prevalent sexual assault is on college campuses nationwide. I’m taking this issue personally, because what many people don’t know is that I’m part of the 4.8% that did report.
There are many reasons women don’t report on college campuses or in other situations. I know why I would not want to report a sexual assault now. It is an emotionally draining process and it’s an intense decision-making process from the start. There are so many types of prosecution that it becomes overwhelming. It’s a lot of information to process, especially after the attack. I have been told at times, “You don’t have to always be the hero.”
My response is that I live by the mantra “strength.” I have always been told I’m a strong, independent woman and I’ve taken it to heart. I don’t have a hero in this situation. I’ve made myself my own hero by toughing it out. So many women have reached out to me since I've reported my assault. More often than not, women (not just on college campuses) never report their sexual assault. When I reported mine, I found women reaching out to me, trying to be supportive, because of their firsthand experience.
The only disheartening response from people has come from those in disbelief. It breaks my heart that people would abandon their friend in a time of need, but I’ve been told, “If they love and support you, they’ll be there. If not, you don’t need them and you’re better off without them.”
College officials have an appearance to maintain. Lower crime statistics means they look better to prospective students, and more importantly, parents. If a crime goes unreported, it’s one less statistic to be documented unfavorably.
In addition to keeping up appearances, often times the university public safety works closely with the police department, which can impede progress on cases. This is where the case is normally dropped. Many cases that go through university prosecution never see legal prosecution.
My overarching goal is awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. The more people talk about it, tweet about it, the sooner it will be addressed by universities nationwide.
Women have plenty of reasons not to report sexual assault, and as part of the 4.8% that did, I understand. I’m asking for a reformation of the system to address sexual assault policies more effectively.
Ufortunately, this is the statement that plays over and over in my head: “For being a victim, they sure do a job to make you feel like a criminal.”
Everyone needs sensitivity training to understand where I’m coming from. It may seem like few have have been in my situation (I’m talking about the people directly in my life), but the statistics suggest otherwise.
I want to make sure that other women know they’re not alone. It’s okay to reach out for support, even if you’re used to being the strong one. I have a tattoo on my ankle that says “strength” with two open hearts. I had my ink done before this incident, but it’s a great daily reminder to just keep pushing through every day. If you ask, “Why now?” I’ve decided that I’m ready to branch out, because my overall goal is awareness and reformation.
Thank you for reading my two cents. If you want to help, share this article and help me raise awareness.