The most important gift anyone can give a girl is a belief in her own power as an individual, her value without reference to gender, her respect as a person with potential. – Emilie Buchwald
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I know every month has some special focus, but only recently became aware of SAAM. I was walking to class when someone asked me if I wanted a teal ribbon. I asked what it was for expecting it to be for one of the frats, but they said it was in support of sexual assault. I took one and put it in my room, not thinking of what I could do to help. Today I was walking to eat when I passed a table with t-shirts on it. I stopped and asked what was going on (yes I am that pathetic that I only stopped, because I saw free shirts). They said they were raising awareness for sexual assault; all you had to do was write something encouraging on the white board. “Speaking is Strength” is what I wrote.
After I received my shirt, I was on my way to class and I was contemplating what sexual assault really meant and why awareness for it is so important. I went home and started researching it. I learned that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college and less than 5% will report it. Wow! That blew my mind. I couldn’t fathom why they would not come forward and make whoever did this to them pay.
But as a society we are desensitized to sexual assault. We watch shows like Law and Order: SVU (yes I do it to) where rape is the main plot in almost every episode. The show brings attention to it, but we watch it for entertainment and rarely get up off the couch or turn off the computer to actually do something about it. Sexual assault is real and the women whom it affects do not want to come forward.
Besides being desensitized, we tell these women that somehow it is there fault. We tell them that they drank too much. That they were showing too much skin. That they asked for it. But this is not the case. These women are not in the wrong. These women did not ask for it. These women did not deserve it. Rape is a crime of violence, power, and control. No means no! Alcohol is not consent, the clothes she is wearing is not consent, and flirting is not consent. These women are afraid to speak out for so many reasons, but the backlash is one. They do not want to be nor do they deserve to be publicly shamed or blamed.
We need to step up against sexual assault on our campuses, in our schools, and in our neighborhoods. It is up to us to encourage those who have been sexually assaulted to come forward and speak out. They matter and their story matters. If you are a victim or if you know a victim, let them know that they are loved, accepted, cherished, believed, and not alone.
Speak out against sexual assault and remember that silence is not golden.
❤ a girl
P.S. Here are some great quotes speaking out against sexual assault –> No Means NO.