These are words from a South African protest song written in the 1950’s. Throughout history individuals have been struck physically and emotionally, but society never focuses on the strength it takes these survivors to get back on their feet and become “the rock.” Survivors of sexual assault (women or men) have plenty of horror stories to tell. But, they also have a lot of inspiring, hopeful stories highlighting how one copes and comes through to the other side of these events. I am here to share some of their stories.
Sexual Assault is scary and unfortunately very real in every community across the United States. But it’s annoying when people categorize a certain group to be the only ones that commit these horrible acts. For example, “Mexican are rapists.” Which is not true for all Mexicans. Although comments like these offend people like me, who proudly identifies with being Mexican-American, we (News Flash!) also are affected by sexual assault. I notice too that it is extremely hard for these stereotypes to be broken when people with power have enforced such ideas onto a certain group. Among the many struggles the Latino community faces, rape and assault happen to be one of them.
In the Latino community, it is very common for men to praise other men when they have been with many women. So, this builds the self-esteem of these men when they harass a woman. When a woman does not desire to be with that man, one common thing I have heard is, “She is playing hard to get. She knows she likes it when I bother her!” Hence the terminology, Rape Culture! In an online article, I read about the way rape culture is a “Militarized Culture.” A form of oppression that is used as a weapon to degrade mostly women and it is also the notion that only certain people get raped, because of the way they dress and the way they act. In addition, Rape Culture includes not acknowledging that the men that rape are rapists.
Trigger Warning: This post discusses multiple survivors’ sexual assault experiences and may be triggering for others who have also experienced sexual assault.
If you have been keeping up with the University of Idaho news lately, you will notice the attention a 2013 sexual assault case is getting. The Idaho Statesman recently discovered a survivor’s testimony on a blog site, and ran a story that covered the investigation. (Read here). Long story short, the survivors did not receive the help from the athletic department they needed. Both people involved were athletes at UI, but the athletic department only protected the assaulter. The survivors then went to the Women’s Center, and the staff there took the case to the Dean of Students for an investigation. The assaulter was no longer allowed to play football at UI. However, he is now playing for a team in New York (which I do not agree with, but that is a conversation for another day).
Throughout all of this buzz, I have heard some comments questioning why the survivor did not go directly to the Dean of Students. Some of these comments were in poor taste. Others were genuinely curious. Even though the two women who were sexually assaulted at UI chose to report their assault to the police and the athletic department, it is common for survivors to never report. But why?
When I was a prospective student for the University of Idaho, I was told that U of I was safe. I was told that this is a great school because we are “one big family.” On the web site it says,
“UI is committed to creating a safe environment for the UI community and those who visit.”
I thought that the university cared about me as one of their students. I thought that I was seen for who I am–not just as a dollar sign. So, in my pre-college mind, if I were to be harmed in any way as one of their students, I assumed the U of I would be there for me.
When incoming freshman start their journey at U of I, they are essentially moving to a new home. They become part of the “Vandal Family.” (At least that is how they feel.) It’s exactly how I felt. U of I was my new home. The Vandals were my family. I would never expect one of them to intentionally hurt me, and if they did, I expected the university to handle it properly…
If we are a family, why wouldn’t you want to protect and stand up for every member?
Sexual Assault is real, people, and unfortunately, it happens everywhere. Including here.
As a college student, I walk to campus all the time. (Even at times where it can be very scary.) I can’t even tell you the times I have checked my surroundings, over and over again while going home, after a late night at the library. From wanting to listen to my music as I walk, but having to put only one headphone in, just in case. From taking classes to learn how to defend myself, because women, unfortunately, get put in danger more than men do. I must take an extra step and extra precautions, just because I am a woman. I always try to look for resources that can help me if a predator decided to attack me by surprise.
Not long ago, my sister told me a capability I was not aware of. On Iphones, you click the power button five times in a row and the image above will pop up. By sliding the SOS button on your IPhone, this will send your location to the nearest police station. I also have learned how to carry my keys between my thumbs. I even learned about a bra with a sensor in it that can alert the police if your heart rate is too high over a long period of time. (Signaling the police.) I must do this and many more things to feel safe. Even the way I act and dress. I always have to have an extra layer of protection before I can go outside because I am not sure what could happen. I should not have to live like this!! All women should have the ability to do whatever they desire.
My question is: Why do I find myself needing to do this? (Right, because I am a woman and because men don’t have to worry about these things. Right.) Also, in order to not get assaulted or raped I need to dress a certain way. I should not provoke him. Because, then it’s my fault. HELL NO! I shouldn’t have to do these things, to feel safe at night. A societal stereotype says, “It’s the victim’s fault for getting drunk and getting raped!” Why? Just why do I have to do this and not men? I don’t think this is fair to me and my peers.
Women should especially not have to conform or give up certain ways of dressing, or acting, to feel like we will not be raped or assaulted. It gets me angry that almost all of men don’t have to do this to feel safe. They do what they want. They act how they want. Because, society says that they are the dominant gender.
When an 8-month-old baby girl is raped in India, women across the United States took a stance on Twitter to spread the word that this is not okay. The reaction some men had on Twitter was not pleasing at all. From death threats to just plain calling the women sexist, why does spreading the word of such a tragedy hit a nerve with men?
Swati Jai Hind, Twitter username: @SwatiJaiHind, tweeted about the baby on January 29 at 9:09 a.m. Her tweet said, “The worst has happened. An 8 month old baby has been brutally raped in the Capital and is battling for her life in a Hospital. Going to the hospital to meet her. Am totally numb. Terrified to face her. Please please pray for her.” By 10:50 a.m. Nivesh Agarwal replied with “Is this tweet a concern or a stunt .. Why do we write all these things on Social Media to gain sympathy or voters support.” Continue reading “Want a Dose of Cognitive Dissonance?”→
As I write this article, I want to make it known that the sex industry is not always positive for women and girls. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, sex workers around the world have a 45 to 75 percent chance of experiencing violence during their careers.
When sex workers do experience violence, they are not protected by rape shield laws and are not eligible for compensation funds.
Many see sex workers as objects, non-human, and second-rate members of society. This makes sex workers even more prone to being victims of violence.
Women are forced into sex work without their consent, others are forced into sex work because of financial situations, and some choose sex work as their profession.