how to help sexual assault victims

Dear Sexual Assault Victims At A&M, We Hear You

Even if my school won't support you, I will.

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I love my school. I honestly didn't even apply to any other college. I wanted to come to A&M; from a very young age. While I still support my school and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, I will say there is a very large issue at hand. I will not speak on any one case, as I do not know all of the details. This is a general article about my personal views on the sexual assault scandal going on.

For those of you that aren't aware of the issues, there have been a few sexual assault allegations at A&M.;

First of all, let me make it clear that men can be sexually assaulted too. So many times, we just focus on women being assaulted and ignore the male victims. They need to be heard too. "One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives."

While sexual assault cases are very hard to handle because there is so much hearsay, there are also plenty of cases with strong hard evidence. The punishment for these perpetrators is usually not justice for the victims. Multiple victims have claimed they felt betrayed by the school or that the school didn't do enough for them. While each case is different, the hearings need to be fair and consistent.

"Aggies do not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do." We don't tolerate cheating on tests or stealing from the bookstore but you can steal someone's livelihood and sense of safety and still walk around campus. We are required to take sexual harassment training every school year but obviously, it's not doing anything. Too many people have come forth with their stories of how they feel the school did not properly handle their cases. We need to start holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.

A student should not be able to sexually assault someone and have a little "time out" from school and return to experience everything we do. A student-athlete should not be able to redshirt themselves if they are suspended for sexual misconduct. If there is enough evidence for a panel to find a student guilty of rape, they should not be allowed to come back to this school. It is a privilege to attend A&M; that too many students obviously take for granted.

"I was drunk." "It was dark." "She was wearing slutty clothes." There is no excuse for sexual assault. You are not entitled to another person's body. Rape or any kind of sexual harassment is not accidental or a little mistake. You don't accidentally grope someone or accidentally rape them.

No means no. Stop means no. Pushing and fighting means no. "I don't want to" means no. "Leave me alone" means no.

Rape victims go through the unimaginable trauma that many never really recover from.

Why should a victim have to walk around campus and potentially see their perpetrator again?

And to those people that say "you can transfer", why should the VICTIM have to leave a place they probably love? Why should a victim be punished for being violated?

While I will say some mild cases of sexual harassment are sometimes blown out of proportion, who am I to make the victim feel dumb or insecure for feeling violated. Many people don't even realize they have been violated until the subject comes up. The worse thing that has happened to me since I became a young woman was an older 50+-year-old man (whom I didn't know) putting his arms around me at an event. While it made me very uncomfortable I just pushed him away and went on with the night. That is minor compared to what some people go through.

In a perfect world, no one would ever be violated. No one would ever have to feel unsafe walking alone. No one would ever feel unsafe going to a party. Young girls wouldn't have to be told to not wear certain clothes, or not go certain places because of how men would treat them. But that's not the world we live in. We need to feel safe on our campus. We need to feel like if something happens, our school would protect us and find justice for the crime. But many people don't feel that way anymore.

Too many people fear reporting their cases because they don't want to be "that person." Stop victim shaming. Especially if you have never been in that situation, you have no idea what it feels like for them. So many students have said they had to take time off from school because of the trauma they went through. We need to create a safe environment where they feel supported.

#MeTooTAMU has been created as a community for victims and supporters. It is not a movement to bash our school and tear it down. We want our school to be better. If this many students have come forward with stories of how the school wronged them, there is obviously an issue. I don't know the solution, but no one should ever have to go through what so many of these victims have. Be the good Aggies that victims thought you were before they were wronged. Be better so no one will have stories to tell.

To those students coming to A&M; in the fall who are now skeptical of their decision, I promise most Ags are good Ags. And to those of you who are here and have already been a victim, we will stand behind you. Being an Aggie is all about the community and comradery. While there are bad people, there are plenty of good people. I believe you. I care. I support you. And I'm sure so many other Ags do too.

It has been claimed that A&M; is just a business now. I want to believe in my school and the many traditions that made me fall in love with it. But I too see how it has become a business. The administration is not listening to the student's needs. Students should not have to ask to feel safe. Student's security should be the administration's number one priority, but is it?

But it's not just a school issue, this is a society issue. "They're just being guys" isn't an excuse. Stop brushing off offensive and crude behavior as a gender trait. Call your friends out on their bad behaviors. Help victims when you see they're in danger. Don't joke around about harassment. These things stop when we make them stop. Step in. Stand up.


{Also, please take the time to watch this important Ted talk}

Sexual Assault Hotline: 877-995-5247

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