April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and talking about sexual assault brings up these questions: How often does sexual assault occur? How many women and men are victims of sexual assault? How should I go about helping someone who was sexually assaulted? And what can I do to help spread awareness?
One in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be sexually assaulted at during their lives in the United States. Sexual assault is very common on college campuses, as 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while attending college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
While that may not sound like a big number to some, it’s still too many, as the number should be zero. In addition, over 90 percent of sexual assault victims don’treport the assault. In many cases, victims choose not to report what has happened to them in the fear they will experience retaliation orno one will believe them.
In addition, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 80 percent of college student sexual assault and rape victims reportedthey knew their attacker, as most were either friends or acquaintances. It’s sad that during one of the best times of our lives, we have to live with the idea that we may not know our friends and their true intentions.
Recently, all Sonoma State students had to participate in sexual assault awareness training. While the program obviously had some thought put into it, its impact was not large enough to make a huge difference, and I feltI was being preached at, rather than being educated and informed.
With the threat of a registration hold put on ourMySSU accounts, students most likely rushed through its videos and articles out of necessity to complete, rather than genuinely taking time to sit down and learn.
If you know someone who becomes a victim of sexual assault, help them the best you can. Understand what they’re going through is something that can’t be solved with a simple hug and reassurances that things will get better. While they may need to hear that, and some victims will appreciate it, it won’t help everyone. The best thing you can do is be there for them, and listen to what they have to say.
If you see someone who may look as though they’re being taken advantage of, step in. Don’tbea bystander, even if the potential victim or potential perpetrator may give you trouble.
For those who have been victims of sexual assault or those who know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault, always remember that what happened to you (or your friend/relative/acquaintance) is not your fault. Many people will claim you may have been “asking for it” because you were flirting, or wearing “provocative clothing.” If you were under the influence, you were taken advantage of in your intoxicated state. The only person who knew what you were thinking was you. It never was, nor will it ever be, your fault.
There are many resources available to learn more about sexual assault. One being the previously mentioned NSVRC, as their campaign is to prevent sexual violence. Planned Parenthood is always a good resource as their website offers information on what to do if someone has been a victim of sexual assault or rape.
In addition, Sonoma State offers many sexual assault awareness events on campus, with four left for the rest of the month, as Sonoma State is apart of Vice-President Joe Biden’s “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault.
I’m always filled with dread whenever I see an email in my inbox with a red exclamation point next to it. I fear that it’ll be another sexual assault which took place on campus. We all need to do our part to prevent sexual assault.