There’s a lack of support surrounding sexual assault victims.
I wrote an article last week about the documentary “The Hunting Ground” and the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. It was horrifying and eye-opening for me to see what little society does to help protect and support sexual assault victims.
The typical rape culture, where blame is often placed on the victim, seems to be relevant in a lot of cases, and one of those recent cases is taking place at Brigham Young University. A woman was sexually assaulted, and what does administration do to help her? It summoned her to a disciplinary honor code hearing.
BYU has a strict honor code for students to follow where even a sexual assault victim can be punished for consuming alcohol or having a member of the opposite sex in his or her bedroom, placing the blame for the assault on the victim for violating its code rather than the perpetrator for violating the law.
Students attending BYU rallied to protest the school’s treatment of sexual assault victims, but they shouldn’t have to protest in the first place. Whether or not a university has strict codes, students shouldn’t have to defend themselves when a crime is committed against them.
However, BYU isn’t the only place with a sexual assault problem in Utah. A BYU nursing professor looked at the processing of rape kits in seven Utah counties, and ABC 4 News reported approximately 81 percent of rape kits in Washington County were not tested in crime labs between 2010 and 2013.
That means only 19 percent of sexual assault victims were receiving justice for the crime committed against them.
People should be angry about the fact women aren’t receiving justice for being raped. Sexual assault cases deserve the same amount of attention any other crime receives.
Society needs to stop blaming sexual assault victims for what was done to them. People tend ask questions like, “How much did you drink?” or “What were you wearing?” No sexual assault victim should be asked those things. Instead, society should offer more support.
One way people can and should offer more support toward victims is encouraging them to speak up. A lot of sexual assault victims don’t speak up about their rape until a while after it happened because they’re afraid they’ll be retaliated against, and they often think it was their fault. Additionally, rape victims sometimes never speak up. If a person comes to you and tells you about something that has happened to him or her, listen to him or her without any judgment.
Sadly, sometimes being supportive isn’t enough for these women. Though I have never been a victim of sexual assault myself, I’ve seen friends and family members repeatedly blame themselves for being raped. Women need to be more educated about how it’s not their fault if they wore something a little showy or went out and had fun with friends. It’s the rapists fault for taking advantage of someone 100 percent of the time.
People also need to not be afraid to speak up when they see a situation going bad. If someone is being grabbed at a party a little too fiercely or you see someone spike a drink, don’t be afraid to speak up and say what he or she is doing is not right. You may have just saved someone from suffering emotional and physical trauma.
Don’t be just a silent witness.