Two words: sexual assault. One of the biggest topics people are fighting to prevent from happening in the United States today.
What's the big deal?
Every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.
Every eight minutes, that victim is a child.
1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
However, only 6 out of 1000 perpetrators will end up in prison.
These statistics from RAINN show just how serious of an issue this is in the United States.
I am one of these Americans.
What exactly is "Sexual Assault"?
Although each state in the US has different definitions of what counts as sexual assault, the actual definition is simple: Anything that happens between at least two people without given consent. And what is consent? Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.
That being said, here are just some examples of what could be considered as sexual assault:
Sexual assault can happen to absolutely anyone, and it is NEVER the victim's fault. It can happen to people of opposite sex or of same sex.
Now, I'd like to share my story of sexual assault and how it's impacted my life.
*This is a trigger warning.*
In the 4th grade, I befriended a girl. We'll call her Jane. We hung out all the time. We were inseparable--connected at the hip. Little did I know that Jane had a big secret. In our classroom one day, Jane decided she would finally tell me. It turns out her brother had raped her as well as her little sister when they had lived in a different state. She said I was the first person she had ever told, but asked me not to tell anyone. I didn't. As days went on, I'd ask her questions about the event, and she'd answer back honestly. Eventually, I helped her to feel comfortable enough to talk to the school guidance counselor about it. The counselor told her parents, and her brother was later sentenced to four years in prison.
After that, I thought things would be better for everyone. I was wrong.
When I would sleep over at Jane’s, we would play “House”, but she played a little different than I was used to. Actually, I hated the way she played “House”. She would be the mom, and I was the dad. Her little sister would be our daughter. Jane would bring her to “daycare” (her sister's bedroom), then come back to our “house” (Jane’s bedroom). Jane told me to get in bed because we were going to take a “nap”.
However, that is NOT what we did. She got into her bed next to me, and she pulled the covers over our heads. She was really close to me - a lot closer than what I was comfortable with. She told me to close my eyes, and I did. I thought nothing of it. She told me we were going to sleep. Then, something soft touched my lips. I opened my eyes, and realized thatJane was kissing me! I pushed her away and asked she was doing. She said relax, and that it was just part of the game. I said I didn’t want to play like that. She told me it would be fun, and I just needed to relax. I felt extremely uncomfortable. She told me to shut my eyes again because we were going back to sleep, and for some reason, I listened. She kissed me again. Then, it got worse. She would run her hands up and down my body--above and beneath my clothes. She touched me in places no one was supposed to touch me. I felt disgusting. She would take my hands then and place them on her body (usually on her breasts). I would try to move them, but she wouldn’t let me. She told me it wasn’t as fun if I moved them.
It continued to happen for almost three years until she moved to a different state. I never told anyone. At least one of her parents were almost always in the house when it was happening, however, I didn't think they'd believe me. I didn't think anyone would believe me. The first time I told someone was five years later, and I didn't verbally say it. I wrote it out and had them read it. To this day, it is still very hard for me to say out loud, but it is a work in progress.
* * *
Typical responses and effects of sexual assault are:
-Guilt and shame
-Loss of control
Let me tell you that I have personally dealt with each and every one of these at one point or another, and sometimes still do. Recovering from a sexual assault of any kind is not an easy thing to do. However, it is possible.
If you or someone you know is being or has ever been sexually assaulted, please tell someone. It can be anyone. As long as you trust them. If you don't feel comfortable saying it out loud like me, you can write it out. No one EVER deserves to go through this, and no one should have to do this alone.
The RAINN website can be a really helpful tool for anyone who may need extra support or advice.
You are not alone. You will get through this. You are worth it. Always remember it is NEVER your fault!