Violence Against Women Is Far More Common Than We Recognize

Violence Against Women Is Far More Common Than We Recognize

A comment in my college's sexual assault program showed me just how little people know about relationship abuse.

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I recently sat in on a sexual assault and healthy relationship discussion for first-year students, in which a peer of mine assumed that no one in the room had directly or indirectly been affected by sexual or relationship violence. I was so incredibly offended by his comment, knowing that multiple girls in the room at the time came from households that had experienced domestic abuse. It made me further think about the many girls I know my age who have been raped, sexually assaulted, or abused. Violence against women is a serious problem in the United States and it is striking to me that college-aged boys seem to have no clue how often it actually occurs.

Over 4 million women experience intimate violence by a partner every year in the US, and over 38 million American women have experienced intimate violence by a partner in their lifetimes. This shows that relationship violence is much more common in America than many think. These numbers don't even take into account those women who live through emotional abuse by their intimate partner. Many of these women suffer in silence and don't even recognize themselves that they are being abused day in and day out.

We've become so accustomed to a dark and extreme picture of domestic abuse that many people fail to recognize the many forms and degrees it can occur in. So many homes experience domestic abuse without those around them knowing and so people think they have never encountered the issue when really it could be happening to those closest to them. My peer clearly failed to believe that his friends and people he knew relatively well could have experience with these issues, while in reality multiple students sitting in the room with him had been personally impacted by relationship abuse.

Many people also don't realize how severe domestic abuse can become and the grave effects it is having on the female population in the US. In fact, three women are murdered in the U.S. every day by a former or current male partner. That is a massive amount of women dying every week, month and year at the hands of their significant others. The violence committed against women is unbelievable, and yet people continue to ignore how pervasive of an issue it really is.

One in five American women will be raped in their lifetimes, with one in three experiencing some form of contact sexual violence. This is especially an issue on college campuses, where 25% of women are raped during their time in college. Furthermore, rape is the most under-reported crime, making these numbers probably far less than the reality. As we saw with "me too", so many women experience sexual assault and harassment without telling their stories.

We cannot begin to fix a problem until we recognize to what degree it exists, and violence against women has far to go before it is seen as the pervasive problem it truly is and is eventually solved. My experience was just one of many with the failure to recognize how common relationship violence is in the US. The American public needs to be educated and understand that those around them have likely either directly or indirectly be impacted by violence against women.

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I Support Late-Term Abortions, That Doesn't Make Me A Baby-Hating Monster

A late-term abortion is a horrible, devastating and heartbreaking choice... but one I'm glad women have.

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If you think that late-term abortions are for mothers who get to 8.5 months and then randomly decide they no longer want to have a baby, then don't even read this article. This article is not to argue with ignorance. Read some unbiased articles, actually, think about it for two seconds and then realize that women who are due any day now aren't just going to terminate their pregnancies because it is "legal" now. (It is not.)

I've seen so many posts and comments and arguments, the crux of them being, "I can't imagine aborting my child after 24 weeks."

Well, guess what... The women this law will apply to probably can't imagine it, either.

Nearly all abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy (approximately 91.1%). This tells us what is (more than likely) a pretty obvious fact: That beyond the first trimester, most women are planning to keep their baby (or give him or her up for adoption). So you can imagine that even being presented with the option of termination would be heartbreaking.

Imagine this: You're pregnant and absolutely ecstatic to bring a child into the world. You go in for an appointment at 30 weeks. During the exam, your doctor is quiet. You are growing extremely anxious. They tell you that they have some bad news. Your daughter has a serious condition, one that will allow her to live less than a year. They can perform a c-section, she will be in the NICU for a long time, but even once you take her home, she has an extremely low chance of survival. Her life will be painful. Or, they can perform an abortion.

What do you choose? For some, they absolutely cannot fathom the idea of termination. They'd rather take a chance at life. And for some, they cannot even fathom the idea of watching their child live a painful, short life that will end in incredible heartbreak.

Both of these are traumatizing decisions. Your pregnancy and your hope for the future and your plans for the child you are so excited for have come crashing down. This is not a lightly made decision. And if you would choose to take your chances, pray for a miracle and get to hold your child in your arms, you should have every single right to.

But if you decide that the trauma of terminating your pregnancy without having to fall further in love with your child and watch him or her struggle every day and deal with the gutwrenching pain of losing them, you should have every single right to make that choice, too.

This is not cut and dry. This is something that changes from woman to woman, from family to family. But one thing stays the same: Learning that the life that you planned for your baby can no longer be as you desperately hoped is heartbreaking. It is a uniquely horrific feeling that, you're right, you can't imagine. No one can imagine it until they're living it. I write about it and I think about it and I have to assume that there is nothing in this world that can prepare you for it.

Posting and commenting that women who choose the path of late-term termination are monsters or killers or heartless is wrong.

Picture this: A pregnant woman and her husband, sitting in an exam room alone after learning devastating news about their pregnancy. They're holding one another, sobbing, thinking through their options. Trying to decide if ending their pregnancy, crushing the hopes and dreams they had for their little baby is the right choice, or continuing on and hoping for a miracle but knowing they should prepare for the heartbreak of their lives. Picture them, through tears, while holding an ultrasound photo to their chest, telling the doctor they choose to terminate. Picture them going home, sitting in the nursery they decorated, calling their parents and telling them their grandchild won't be arriving.

Are you picturing a couple of monsters? A couple of heartless killers?

Or do you see a family put into an impossible situation, trying to make an impossible decision for themselves and their unborn child? A family who threw a baby shower and decorated their nursery and argued over the perfect name for months. Who took progress photos of their baby bump, who talked about what sports their kid would play, who had to hear the devastating news that turned their world upside down?

I don't see a monster. I don't see a killer.

I see pain, I see hardship, I see love.

And I hope that you do, too.

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Your Sexual Comment About My Body Really Isn't A Compliment, I Would Appreciate If You Stopped

I am human and I demand respect over my body.

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I was 12 the first time a boy said: "you got a nice ass." I was taken back. What did you just say to me? Back then I wasn't as strong in knowing who I was/am. That comment stuck with me for a while. I recently thought about it. I realize now what that comment really was. While a boy thought it was a compliment, it wasn't. It was the start of harassment that boys are never told is wrong. Therefore, they continue to do it.

When I think about that comment from junior high, I think about the junior high students I know. I think about how upset I would be if one of the boys said that. I think about how much I would want to hug and remind the girl of who she really is. You see, these "compliments" start at a young age. Girls figure it means the boy likes her. They assume that he'll be different when they're dating. I beg to differ. It will get so much worse.

Some boys and men only see women as objects. They only see her as a thing of pleasure. They don't see the beauty that is in her personality. They don't stop to think about how intelligent she is. They skip over the fact of her being a human. It truly breaks my heart.

I keep going back to the first time a boy touched my butt, and how violated I felt. I told my teacher, and they did nothing about it. They said, "Oh, well he's a boy!!" WHAT. No, I am human and I demand respect over my body. When that boy touched my body when I never asked him to, I wanted to hide. I was not "turned on" by it like he thought I would be. I was not OK with it. And all I got was a form of "it's what boys do."

Your compliment about my body isn't a compliment. I am uncomfortable with it. I don't want to hear about how much you love my butt. Your compliment about my body has led me to be nervous around guys who have any sort of interest in me because I think they are only interested in what you once told me.

I am here to stand up for myself, finally, and other girls and women who are scared. I was once scared, but not anymore. I don't want to hear or read your pick up lines you think will flatter me. I want you to respect who I am. I want you to know I am not flattered by those gross comments about my body. I am here to stand up for those who are scared to be loud. That was once me, but not anymore.

Your compliments are not compliments. I am ready to see a change in our world. I am ready for your gross comments to stop. I am sick of seeing and hearing the same thing over and over again. I am more than a body. I am a human. I have a personality that I would love for you to get to know, but your pick-up lines are insulting. I would appreciate if you stopped.

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