Very soon, I will be heading off to college and be embarking on new adventures and experiences away from home. Some of these adventures and experiences may lead many of my loved ones to worry about my safety with just reason. Although I am going to an all women school, rape and sexual assault does happen. Across the street from Saint Mary's College is our sister school, the University of Notre Dame. I'm not pointing any fingers towards the Alma Mater that many of my family members have once called home, but because of Notre Dame's high reputation, many women are afraid to tell anyone about their assault.

Lizzy Seeburg, who was a freshman at Saint Mary's College, reported her assault to her school and Notre Dame, but nothing was done to help her. In 2010, she committed suicide because of that assault. Today, there is a memorial for Lizzy Seeburg at Saint Mary's College and many women on campus now support other women who have been assaulted and those who have been assaulted join and unite as one in a club called Take Back the Night. In fact, only 5% of sexual assaults on campuses are reported, making sexual assault the most under reported crime.

If a woman reports any crime against an offender, stereotypical questions are often asked by the police to the woman and make her feel even more guilty than what she may feel about the assault even though none of it is her fault. Some questions that are asked point towards what took place as the woman's fault. For example, a question frequently asked is "Were you wearing immodest clothing?" Most women, when asked this question, are shocked and have to take a moment to really gather in if they were provoking someone to hurt them mentally and physically. Usually, the answer is no. Even if the woman was wearing clothes that may have shown some skin, a man should have the decency to be a gentleman and control himself.

Another question that will be asked in a report is "Were you under the influence?" 38% of men and 34% of women believe that if you were under the influence, the rape or sexual assault was partially your fault. The facts are simple. If you are under the influence, according to the law, you are unable to give consent even if you do say yes. A question that is typically asked that makes it seems like it is the woman's fault is "Were you doing anything that could provoke the behavior of your perpetrator?" No one asks to be raped or assaulted. Previous assailants will defend their case by saying that the way the victim was acting indicated to them that they "wanted them". A woman does not "want" someone unless she says (when she is sober) "yes". One last question that will be asked is, "Did you say stop or no?" When an assault or rape happens, not all women react the same. In the moment, a woman may freeze and are suddenly unable to find their voice or move their body away. It's as if their mind has shut off and is trying to block out what is happening to them. When a woman may tell others about what happened to them, the typical response is "Well, I would slap anyone who tried to do that to me." A response like that may make the victim feel like it is her fault and that she is weak.

To tell anyone about their assault takes a lot of courage for every woman because it is a very personal thing to open up about. What a victim wants is to not be seen or treated as a victim. All the victim may want is to have someone listen to them and to not shove aside what serious feelings that the victim has. An assault will typically leave a victim with psychological problems for a long time and the length of these psychological issues has no length as to when they will be gone. Some of these psychological problems include but are not limited to flashbacks, depression, anxiety, distrust, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts.

If anyone has recently opened up to you about a rape or sexual assault, listen to them and try to encourage them to see a therapist depending on the severity of what they are experiencing. If you, yourself are suffering from the recent trauma of a sexual assault or rape please call The 24 Hour National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673. If you are having suicidal thoughts don't hesitate to call The 24 Hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Remember, you are not alone and you are loved.


Sources:

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-s...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/rape-se...

http://deadspin.com/5897809/this-is-what-happens-w...

https://www.rainn.org/effects-sexual-violence