I’m a young man, and I was raped by someone I knew my first year of high school. Having no idea what would happen to me, or what to do, I kept silent and felt powerless.
Now that I’m in college, I realize how much this pain has robbed me of what’s supposed to be the best time in my life — my college years. I never thought this could happen to me.
But then it did, and it still does.
In fact, one in five women and one in 16 men like me are sexually assaulted while in college, and more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Remaining silent is the norm, thanks to the stigma of “rape” and the lack of effective legislation to help victims.
Victims need more support, and action must be taken in the community and in the government to understand sexual assault and implement solutions.
In a society built on “rape culture,” we tend to completely ignore male victims, condemn female victims for their rapists’ actions and ignore legal loopholes that benefit rapists like Brock Turner, a student athlete who only served three months of his six-year prison term for his sexual assault conviction.
As a rape victim living in California, I think we need laws that support the victim in a case of sexual assault, and more action taken to prevent it from happening in the first place.
While legislation in California is in place aimed at reducing incidents of sexual assault and rape, these laws have been ineffective. Specifically, they don’t provide victims with help with assaults involving professors and students.
The power professors have over their students academically, and the lack of options for sexual assault victims to speak up against a professor, have led to a consequence-free environment for many sexual predators on our campuses, leaving many victims to fight on their own. This is devastating to survivors.
Sure, California has been making great strides on sexual assault prevention, outlets for victims and survivors, and laws closing loopholes for rapists, but we still have a long way to go.
In 2014, the law SB-967, known as “yes means yes,” was passed, defining consent, providing outlets to sexual assault victims and survivors, and requiring the governing board of all California universities and colleges to provide students and faculty with treatment and information, in order to receive state funds for financial assistance.
This bill set the stage for another bill, SB-695, designed to curb rape culture by mandating consequences for sexual assault and for “yes means yes” to be taught in California high schools.
I think education is a strong tool for prevention and even for victims. Education is empowerment, and by teaching about sexual assault early on, students in high school will become empowered and know what danger signs to look out for and tools to help prevent assault. They will know what outlets they have to speak out against incidents. Potential perpetrators of assault will even know the full extent of the consequences they will face for their unwanted actions.
We need to all wake up to the fact that this could happen to you or your family member — just as easily as it did to me — male or female. Do your part and educate teens about sexual assault. Take action and write to a local senator to further the legal momentum of ending sexual assault within school systems, and familiarize yourself with the warning signs of sexual assault.
Filed under: OPINION, VOICES FROM CAMPUS Tagged: End Rape on Campus, rape, Santa Clara University, sexual assault, sexual assault awareness, sexual assault prevention, sexual assault survivors, sexual assault victims