The SheHawk: Take Rape Seriously

Samantha Durham, Assistant Opinion Editor

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First, let me just start by saying that I love Joe Biden for starting the “It’s On Us” campaign. I am so excited that a very influential political figure takes sexual assault issues seriously. If you have never visited the “It’s On US” website I think everyone should take a second of their day to take a look at it, because the title is completely true, it is one hundred percent on us to stop rape and sexual assault.

I have so much love for this campaign because of the message that it sends not just women that are victims of rape and sexual assault but men as well. Sexual assault does not just happen to women, men suffer from it too and I love that the It’s On Us campaign takes note of that.

At the top of the website it has a link to resources in case a person has been the victim of sexual assault which I think is hugely important. Making sure that men and women from all walks of life have access to help in  case of a sexual assault issue is so important to ending rape culture and putting a stop to sexual assault all together.

But I am in love with the pledge that this campaign stands for. It states on the website, “This pledge is a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It is a promise to not be a bystander to the problem, but to be part of the solution”. The pledge itself states…

I pledge…

To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.

To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur.

To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.

To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

Joe Biden, I love this pledge, I love this campaign and I love everything that this stands for. It gives hope to those without it but it also takes a stand against all unwanted sexual advances or activities. It protects people who cannot say “yes” and it gives everyday people the power to stand up for their fellow human beings.

I think everyone should go and take this pledge. If not for you, pledge for your friends, for the women and men in your life that you care about. If you see sexual assault behaviors around you, stop it from escalating. Be the hero for that person that you would want if you were in that situation.

According to RAINN, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and on average 321,500 victims that are 12 and older are victims of rape and sexual assault each year. Another statistic from RAINN states that 54% of victims are between ages 18 and 34. We can be the solution to these problems. We are the way to reduce the number of people affected by sexual assault.

RAINN also reported that 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. According to 1998 data, 17.7 million American women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. RAINN also makes it appoint to show that young women are at especially high risk for sexual assault and rape. 82% of all juvenile victims are women while an astonishing 90% of adult rape victims are women.

So, for those of you out there that think this is not a problem, you are incredibly wrong. 17.7 million American women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape, and I have absolutely no idea how some people can sit back and say that rape culture doesn’t exist or that sexual assault is not a problem. It clearly is according to the numbers.

Sexual assault and rape are serious issues. These attacks not only happen on American soil but across the globe. The only way to stop attackers and offenders is by speaking out against sexual violence, deterring people from undermining the severity of a sexual crime and by standing by those that are victims. No one should have to fear being forced into anything they don’t want. No one should be disrespected like that. Because frankly rape and sexual assault is not about sex in my opinion; it’s about power. It’s about making the victim and victim, making them do something they don’t want to, regardless if they fight back or not. It’s sickening and terrifying we live in a world where people do things like this all to fulfill this idea of being in power or having control.

I hope that as the world changes the way people talk about sexual assault and rape changes too. I hope that less people will blame victims and less people will say things like “they were asking for it”. No, they weren’t asking to have their lives changed forever nor were they “asking” to be a victim of something so horrible. Protect victims, help them however you can. Don’t give rapists or perpetrators reasons to excuse their behavior, because it is beyond excusable. It’s a crime and it should be treated as one, because it’s not a joke and it’s not going away. It only will if you do your part to stop it, because it truly is on us to end rape and sexual assault.