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How do you define sexual assault? According to womenshealth.gov, “sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to”. Not everyone knows what sexual assault means, and how it does affect people’s lives more than they think it does, especially in college. It should be more well known how important it is, and just how common it is that people fall into situations where they get taken advantage of or persuaded to do. Sexual assault is not a small discussion to joke around about, because people are suffering every day from it.
It is more common for a woman to get sexually assaulted than a man would. Many sexual assaults happen at college when it comes to all of the parties. Everyone wants to experience new things or something different and something bad ends up happening. One article stated that “One study reports that 15 percent of women experienced incapacitated rape during their first year of college” When some of these young women are abusing drugs and alcohol, others take advantage of the fact that they may not know what is going on. In this article, they give very good advice on how if you ever meet someone and you are drinking or are using drugs, “make sure your friends are with you and that you are in a safe environment”. You want to make sure you are with people you trust and that will make sure you get home safe without anyone harming you in any way. However, this may not always work. Most of the time there is a sexual assault, it is someone that the victim already knows. As reported by rainn.org “93% of juvenile victims knew the perpetrator: 59% were acquaintances, 34% were family member, 7% were strangers to the victim” It is unfortunate that sometimes the people that we trust the most will turn around and do one of the worst things you could do to a person. No matter what they have done for that person or they can never take back what they did. The victim went from having a great friend or family member to now looking at them as someone who did something horrible to them and took advantage of them.
Not all sexual assault victims report their incident, especially if its someone they know. If they previously had a friendship or is a family member to the person who sexually assaulted them, they may have a harder time reporting them because they do not want to see someone they know to get into trouble. There are many other reasons why people do not report their assaults and one of them is because “This sense of shame often causes victims to blame themselves for the sexual misconduct of their perpetrator”, as stated by psychologytoday.com. Usually, in life we control our own lives, so when something like this happens some people automatically would blame themselves even though it was not their fault at all. Women today are constantly being told that it is our fault because of what clothes were wearing or how much we had to drink.
The website psychologytoday.com also stated that women “downplay how much they have been harmed by sexual harassment and even sexual assault”. They act as if what they had just gone through was not that bad. Women cannot downplay what they went through because if they do that they may not realize that they are making themselves even more upset than they already are because they are pushing how they feel further away. No matter the severity of the sexual assault it is still sexual assault no matter what.
Psychologytoday.com also confirmed that another reason some women may not report their sexual assault experience is that “at the time of the abuse they were drugged, inebriated, or dissociated”. When people are drugged they may only remember small bits and pieces from the night or may not remember it at all. Which is why people would drug other people so that they can forget more about the event and what the person looked like and the specific details.
After an assault, it can really turn you into a different person. Students can have a difficult time coping with what they had just gone through and they may have a hard time focusing in many ways. They may not pay attention in class, not talk to their friends as much, lose interest in other responsibilities and interests they had prior to the incident. A website called bestcolleges.com explained that “1 in 10 rape victims currently suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; 3 in 10 develop PTSD over their lifetime”. People who go through events as traumatic as this will not be able to get over it easily. It can be scary and unfortunately, it has led people to think negatively about themselves. Some people have gone through depression and thought about suicide. Sexual assault is taking a harder toll on people than others may think.
RAINN stands for Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network and it is an anti-sexual violence organization and hotline for those who get sexually assaulted. For people who have been sexually assaulted before, thebestschools.org says, “RAINN offers this advice: “After sexual assault … you may be physically hurt, emotionally drained, or unsure what to do next. You may be considering working with the criminal justice system, but are unsure of where to start. Learning more about what steps you can take following sexual violence can help ground you in a difficult time.” In times like this, there is no specific way you are supposed to feel. You feel how you want to feel about the whole situation that happened to you, not anyone else.
Sexual assaults in college can take a toll on a young adult’s entire life. At times they have lost friendships, they feel like they have lost their self-respect, and they need help, but will not say anything. We need the right people in our lives, the ones who will not betray us and hurt us in any way. A girl should be able to speak out about her experience and stand up for herself and not get judged over what she was wearing or how much she drank. It is important to realize how important sexual assault is on campuses across the nation because it is affecting people’s lives physically and mentally as they get older and they need help and it needs to change.
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