The statistics state that one in five women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. But what is a statistic but a number on a page? If statistics were truly as powerful as articles claim them to be, there would be change. But there isn’t. “One in five” is just a number we read and promptly dismiss. “One in five” is not the females walking around Murray State.
“One in five” is not our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, daughters and friends. No, “One in five” is just a number given to us by the CDC, a representation of a horror that happens “out there,” in another world, but not here, not in our lives, not in our school, not to our friends and family. I wish I were able to tell you that were true. I wish I weren’t in a position to be writing this at all, because I wish that statistic didn’t exist. But it does. And that “One in five” is not just a number on page. She is a person, a daughter, a friend, a student. She is the one who experiences the horror of having her own body used against her will, and later her own mind betrays her as it attempts to understand the treachery that was done against it. She is the woman who battles suicidal thoughts and severe anxiety attacks, as she attempts to go through life normally, ashamed of what happened because society tells her it’s her fault.
She is the one, who when the strength comes, goes to the authorities with her story and hears “you shouldn’t have put yourself in a vulnerable position” instead of “He shouldn’t have taken advantage of your vulnerability.” We live in a society that perpetuates the concept that the responsibility of sexual assault falls on the victim.
From “What were you wearing” to tips from the police on “how not to be a victim of a crime of this nature” to suffering through the physical, mental and emotional trauma of an assault while the perpetrator lives carefree, our society cries “Crime!” But who is truly convicted? Society is long overdue for a complete overhaul of how sexual assault is regarded. It is time to put an end to the perpetuation of women as objects, and the continuation of rapists only known as a number in a statistic and not a criminal behind bars. “One in five” will not dissipate until society works together to change its mindset on sexual assault. It is not something that “just happens” because you were in a bad place at a bad time.
It is a crime, and should be treated as such. This means education, awareness, and preventative tactics to ensure “One in five” is no longer a commonplace statistic. Itsonus.org provides great insight on how exactly to go about doing this. Though I wrote this article from a female perspective, I recognize and respect the fact that this is a horror that can happen to anyone, regardless of gender. Anyone can be a victim, and anyone can be a rapist. But no one has to be either, and it’s time we ensure no one is.
Letter from Rachel Williams, Senior from Louisville, Ky.