The way sexual assault is handled in the U.S. makes me so frustrated. Sexual abuse and sexual assault is so pervasive – the CDC estimates that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused and the number of women who are sexually assaulted in their lifetime is devastatingly high, and yet it’s something that is almost never discussed. I saw the trailer for the documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, The Hunting Ground, last tonight and it filled me with fire.
I get so angry when I hear about child molestation by church priests, the abuse by Jerry Sandusky, and the pervasiveness of sexual assaults on college campuses. I’m not angry just because people are being attacked, but because the institutions who are responsible for the victims’ safety are protecting the perpetrators. They are more concerned about maintaining their reputations than doing what’s right. Are they completely oblivious to the devastating effects of sexual assault? Do they know that they have shamed people into silence and attack them for speaking up? It makes me so angry and frustrated at â€œthe systemâ€ that it’s hard to find words to express it. I just want to scream at them.
To every institution that turned a blind eye or blamed or shamed of victim who was sexually assaulted under their watch â€“ Fuck You! I don’t believe in protecting perpetrators or the people that protect them.
As a survivor of sexual assault, my heart goes out to these victims and fellow survivors. I suspect I know your pain, your anger, and your shame. We live in a world that tells us to stay silent about being victimized and traumatized, to â€œget over it.â€ The people who say this are too uncomfortable with the fact that this happens everywhere and to all types of people, so they try to ignore it. They push the problem onto the victims when it’s really them who have the real problem.
The survivors of sexual assault have a challenge â€“ to deal with the damage of the trauma we’ve been through. And if you’re a survivor too, you know how soul crushing and devastating it can be. This isn’t something we just â€œget over.â€ We live with it for the rest of our lives. It’s our responsibility to do what we have to do to take care of ourselves, whatever that looks like. And for some of us dealing with this deep trauma doesn’t take weeks or months; it takes years, maybe even a lifetime.
I’ve been silent for too long, shamed by individuals, institutions, and cultural norms. Speaking only for myself, I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t say that survivors should feel empowered to speak out whenever they need to an to call out individuals and institutions that perpetuate this problem, unless I’m willing to speak out too.