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What People Don't Realize About Sexual Assault

Change needs to happen.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

This is a topic that I've been hesitant to write about for a while. Every time I think of writing this I always talk myself out of it. I'll tell myself that it isn't important or that people already know everything I am going to say. The problem is, sexual assault is not being talked about enough. For something most women have to worry about on a regular basis, it should be a topic talked about daily. That is not to say that men don't have this problem too, but you would be ignorant to think the statistics don't sway more towards females.

What a lot of people don't realize is how many forms sexual assault can take on. There is so much controversy about this subject that, in my opinion, is ridiculous. Unless you are molested, there is somehow room for negotiations. A person can be innocent because penetration was not involved, if you were drunk, or if you said yes but were coerced into agreeing. It's as if these forms are not just as scary or deserve to be labeled as assault. Let's not forget that if you do have something happen to you and, for whatever reason, don't talk about it until later in life, then you are automatically accused of lying.

We need to stop trying to push this under the rug. Stop telling men that this is a scary time for them and quit giving excuses. I'm here to tell you that it is not a frightening time for any man who treats women right. I can personally tell you that my boyfriend has no fear of a woman coming out and accusing him of anything because he has always treated each and every human with the utmost respect. It isn't a hard concept to wrap your head around. If you think you are doing something that is wrong or makes the other person uncomfortable, you stop.

What about the women who are lying about it? They must all be lying, right? Yes, women who lie about instances of molestation are in the wrong. I completely agree that they should be held accountable just like any other person. That being said, it is not as common to have a woman lying about a scenario that some people believe. I've heard hateful comments that say these females are just doing it for their 15 minutes of fame.

While I can't tell you the reasoning behind their lies, I can assure you it is rarely for that. If you come out as a victim (especially high profile cases), you are usually mocked and ridiculed. That is not something most people would want to have to deal with. It is already difficult enough to stand up and talk about this vulnerable moment, even without the hate slander. A lot of the times the 'liars' in a situation are just women who don't have enough evidence. Unless it happened moments beforehand, it could be close to impossible for a woman to prove (and even right after the fact can be difficult).

Think about this scenario for a moment. You go to a party and have a few drinks. After a while, someone comes up to you and tries to flirt with you even after you have rejected them a few times. You're a tad drunk and are starting to feel a little lightheaded. This person offers to help you up to a room to lie down for a while. Not being in your right head, you let him lead you to this room. Whether it is forced or coerced, he does things to you that you don't want. The next day, you awake hungover and feeling horrible. You remember a few details about the situation and feel instant sadness and guilt.

At this moment, you don't know what to do. You were obviously intoxicated and knew it might be hard for people to believe you. After all, you did agree to go with him. Fear overtakes you as you wait longer and longer to tell anyone what had happened. Years later you see that movements are happening and women are talking about their stories. It gives you the courage to finally speak up about that dark night. When you do, you are met with people who are supporting you as well as an astonishing amount of hate. They accuse you of lying, tell you that it was your fault, or say it doesn't count because you were intoxicated.

This story might seem dramatic, but it is a lot more common than you would think. It is a sad truth that a lot of women face on a day to day basis. Instead of being a victim, you turn into the woman who is potentially ruining a mans life. Society sees what this person did years ago and feels pity for them that they might lose everything over an intoxicated woman. They say that it is not fair that one night with bad decisions should affect his future. He is now the victim in this story. After all, it couldn't have been that much of a nightmare for the woman if she is just coming out about the assault.

It is disturbing how many people would agree with that statement. It breaks my heart that anyone has to go through something like that and when they finally dare to speak out, have to defend themselves. Society should not think this way. We shouldn't just assume a woman is lying or that it isn't going to affect them for their entire lives. If you think anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault doesn't deal with that on a daily basis, you are incredibly naive.

This mentality is the reason people keep doing these things without any remorse. While sexual assault will always be an issue, we are making it easier for people to get away with it. It has been so normalized that 'boys will be boys' that we don't ever stop to think if that is the right thing. We are a society that gets so scared of change that we don't even bother to look at a situation that is entirely corrupt. Instead of wanting to help fix this problem, people are defending molesters and turning a blind eye to everything that is happening.

I'm not here to say that every man molests women or that it is just males doing this to females. This is a problem for every gender that needs to end. We need to educate more on consensual sex and less on abstinence. We need to teach people that it is not okay to coerce someone into an act they are not comfortable doing or that it is okay if they are dressed a certain way. While sexual assault will always be an issue just like other crimes, we can do more to stop it. Stop defending their actions and start supporting victims.

I would love to live in a world where we embrace people who speak out about their stories. A society that teaches kids how to treat others properly and makes consent talk an essential priority in households. No matter how intoxicated someone is, what they are wearing, or how they said yes after multiple no's, sexual assault is never okay. Stop giving excuses for it. I've never forced someone into a situation because it is wrong. This isn't some difficult concept to understand.

If we all followed this rule, a lot of women would not be scared to grocery shop at night, walk alone, get drunk at a bar, or feel the need to carry pepper spray every time they step out of their car. This is not the type of thing I want to explain to my daughter one day. Instead of preparing girls for a potential offender, why don't we teach everyone the difference between right and wrong? It is not hard, we just like to believe it is because we have never tried. 

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