We Are Not Alone
February 22nd, 2018
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) one in every six women has been sexually assaulted or raped in her lifetime.
Statistics show that from 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies found evidence indicating that 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse. Sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds, with nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults being cases of child sexual abuse (affecting kids 17 and under). Yet, despite all of these shocking statistics, rape and unwanted sexual contact are subjects considered “normal” in our society. In fact, the topic of sexual assault is so taboo (yet joked about so often) in our society that many individuals do not understand their own experiences when they are abused or assaulted, do not know of resources to turn to, and instead often only feel shame. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to learn about rape or sexual assault because it just wouldn’t happen. But as many have said, this is not a perfect world.
I am now 16 years old, and I was sexually assaulted continuously for months, although I don’t quite remember just how many times it occurred. I was 11 years old. 11. I had no idea that what was being done to me was wrong, I had never learned about sexual abuse, I don’t remember even hearing about it before then. Consent was never really a part of the conversation, in school or at home. Isn’t it messed up that the first time I learned about sexual assault and abuse was after I was assaulted? Is it right that I had to go and research all of it on my own, something that I didn’t do until after months of experiencing the abuse because of the guilt I felt for not wanting it, for not wanting something that he had wanted. Once I realized what had happened to me, I became obsessed with reading about stories of other survivors and I was immensely disappointed in my country, in my government, and in this world. Once a big sexual assault case breaks out, suddenly everyone is talking about the fact that sexual abuse should be a part of the conversation, but what about after?
What about the ones who weren't able to tell someone? What about the ones who were brushed off, silenced, or killed? Where does the support go once the victim isn’t on the news anymore? Many times they get nothing from society or their community, the people who can help them. I still actively talk about sexual abuse,assault,safety, and justice in my personal relationships, and I want to take this into my own hands, along with many other survivors and advocates and the family and friends of survivors, since this conversation seems to end when the case stops hitting the news, at least until the next story arises.
I personally believe that sexual assault is a topic that is not talked about nearly enough within our schools and our communities, especially since so many of the victims of abuse are children. This article is the first, and certainly not the last, step that I am taking in order to keep this essential conversation going.