TW: Sexual Assault/Rape
The month of April represents Sexual Assault Awareness Month, otherwise known as SAAM. I want to write this article to speak to all of my fellow victims of sexual assault. All of you.
No matter what it may be, a catcall, an inappropriate touch or grab, a grope, rape (attempted or not), etc. I am with you. As a teenage girl living on a college campus, going out on the weekends surrounded by many people every time, I’ve of course been a victim of sexual assault. I became a victim when I was catcalled at 12 years old walking with my 17-year-old sister to our car from my dance studio. I became a victim of sexual assault when, although I said no and tried to pull his hands away, this guy continued to try and stick his hands down my pants and touch me in many other places. I became a victim of sexual assault when I woke up without any clothes on and no recollection of what had happened the night before.
Now, although some occurrences of sexual assault may seem minor compared to others, they aren’t. There is no denying the uncomfortable, knot-in-your-stomach, want to run away feeling you get every single time you run into one of these situations. Just like no means no, sexual assault is sexual assault.
To all of the victims out there, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to go through something like this, no matter what it was. I’m sorry that you can sit here and say getting catcalled or touched without your consent is normal for you. I’m sorry you have to carry the pain of what happened to you around. I feel for and with you, I am with you. I believe you. It isn’t your fault, you didn’t ask for this to happen to you. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, what you had to drink or how much, where you were, who it was, how old you were; You didn’t ask for this to happen to you.
In a society where rape culture is so prevalent, it can be hard to not place the blame on yourself. Hell, I still do, even though I know I shouldn’t. Rape culture tells us that we ask for it based on the clothes we wear or how much we decide to drink that night. Rape culture tells us that although we said no, it’s still our fault for “letting it happen”. Rape culture is evil, it’s cruel, it’s ignorant. It’s not the truth. Even though you wore a short skirt, dress, or shirt, you didn’t ask to be put through such a traumatizing incident. Even though you might have had a little too much to drink, you didn’t ask to be touched without your consent. You aren’t to blame for the twisted thoughts and behaviors people choose to act.
Say it with me: MY CLOTHES ARE NOT MY CONSENT.
You are a survivor. You’re not alone in this. I’m still picking up the pieces of myself that I lost along the way, and I’m here to support you along your journey of doing that as well. I am with you, I hear you, I believe you.
With all of this being said, I want to provide a few resources for you:
If you ever need absolutely anyone to talk to, or support from an anonymous person, call 1-800-656-4673. This is the National Sexual Assault Hotline which is open 24/7.
For more information and resources on sexual assault, visit https://www.nsvrc.org/saam.
(For University of New Hampshire Students) Contact the university’s Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) for information and support, through their 24/7 hotline 603-862-7233, or visit their website https://www.unh.edu/sharpp/.