“We are groomed to say that women are at fault and that is our first problem,” says media studies professor Michelle Rodino-Colocino. “There is this preconceived notion that women are not trustworthy and that they are to blame.”
The first thing we must address is that if you are the victim of a sexual assault, you are not to blame. The only person that is to blame is the person who did to you, and for that we are truly sorry.
Unfortunately, sexual violence will never end. But we can start making steps today that will greatly decrease it in the future.
One major problem that contributes to sexual violence is the lack of education.
What is the number or rapes that occur every year? The truth is, there is not a clear answer as 85 percent of sexual violence indents go unreported.
Every year at colleges across the nation, there is a Red Zone. The Red Zone is the first six weeks of school- where there are the majority of sexual assaults. Partially due to new surroundings and different situations, but these assaults are 100 percent due to those who don’t take no for an answer.
Who is at fault?
“People often say that women dressing sexy are to blame or that alcohol is a large factor,” says Rodino-Colocino.. “So what if she wants to get all dressed up to meets someone or have fun. She may even want to have sex with someone, but a shorter skirt does not mean that she wants to have sex with everyone.”
Women are often treated as sexual objects in the media, which has a lasting effect on how they are viewed in the real world. This increases the believability of rape myths.
What is a rape myth?
A rape myth is an assumption about rape that decreases empathy for the victim and shifts the blame onto them.
Common rape myths state that the girl was wearing provocative clothing and that she was asking for it. Rape myths are not shy of blaming the victim by highlighting her promiscuity or her defenselessness.
What happens to the victims of sexual violence?
“Victims feel like their power is taken away,” says Jennifer Pencek, programming coordinator of the Penn State Center for Women Students.
Outside of complete violation after experiencing a sexual assault victims often face bleeding, pain during intercourse, STD/HIV, pregnancy and depression.
Why don’t they speak up?
“For victims, it is very scary to come forward for fear of not being beloved or question,” says Pencek.
A large reason people do not come forward is because they received negative feedback or had a negative reaction who they told someone. This is partially due to rape myths that so many of us are unaware of.
What should you do if someone comes to you?
“It is not your job to be the investigator, don’t ask questions, and above all believe them,” says Pencek. It is your responsibility to believe the person and comfort them. That’s why them came to you for support.
What needs to be done?
If you dissect rape myths and rape culture, you have a loss of power. You have a loss from the victim and a gain or the assailant. Clearly the assailant is not powerful because they had to strip the power of the victim just to feel. In the end, your common factor is power.
We have to empower women to stand up and encourage men to take leadership that ripples across the globe. Through awareness, we are already one step closer to walking around without fear.
Photo by Jessi Korch