Hilltop Views

Our View: Sustained sexual assault activism is necessary

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

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Every week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff.

We don’t always expect the word ‘no’ to get us what we want. We don’t expect ‘no’ to make something or someone disappear. Society acknowledges ‘no’ is not a magical power that can give us our way. Still, there is one thing the word ‘no’ should be able to stop.

According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, “every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted.” Even more staggering is that each year there are “an average of 293,066 victims (ages 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault.”

At St. Edward’s University, annual statistics are comparatively lower than at most schools. On campus, there has been a total of six confirmed sexual assaults from 2011 to 2015. This number is smaller than most, but to those assaulted, it is larger than life. That number is not where it needs to be: zero.

“You’re locked inside of yourself with horrible thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can see the world outside, but you can’t break through the barrier of grief,” one St. Edward’s student who was sexually assaulted said.

Our community is failing every student who carries those pains and life scars and to whom we do not offer help and hope. Though there are resources on campus, there needs to be a holistic acceptance for the conversation taking place at St. Edward’s.

This year has brought great dialogues with the nationwide “It’s On Us,” collegiate sexual assault awareness campaign. The activism and participation to prevent sexual assault must continue. Sexual assault must not become taboo, yet we cannot become complacent with its existence.

“I kept my mouth shut for two years because I believed that it was my fault, that I had brought it upon myself, that this is what freshman year was like for all girls,” one St. Edward’s student said.

This is what we should all fear: rape as the standard.

Rape and sexual assault are not norms of societal behavior, they are perversions of it. There is a pervasive and harmful image being propagated by various sectors of the media that there is a gradient of fault to be placed on the victim of sexual assault. As a society, we need to push back on this image and work to make victims feel they can come forward.

This is a convoluted question that many have weighed in on, all with complex answers and all coming from different perspectives. At Hilltop Views, we believe that spreading awareness through comprehensive coverage and dialogue about the issue can give readers insight into a topic which has recently — and rightfully — garnered a lot more attention.

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Our View: Sustained sexual assault activism is necessary