It’s Time to Talk                                                    

It’s time to talk about sexual assault. Sexual assault is a topic that makes most people uncomfortable. We live in a vibrant and plentiful community but sexual assault does happen here. Sexual assault knows no boundaries and is an equal opportunity victimizer. Many feel uncomfortable talking about sexual assault because it involves sex.  The only way that sex is involved is that it is used as a weapon to control and degrade the victim. Rape has been used as a weapon of war since the beginning of time and continues to be used as such. There is nothing romantic or passionate about rape it is simply about power and control. The statistics on rape are shocking. 1 in 5 American women and 1 in 71 American men have been raped in their lifetime. Think of the people closest and most important to you. Who will it be or has it already been? Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes in the U.S. Victims do not report for a variety of reasons including shame, denial and the myths surrounding sexual assault. There are many myths surrounding sexual assault that work to keep victims silent. When people hear rape, they think of a man hiding in the bushes, jumping out and dragging the victim off at gunpoint. In reality, two-thirds of all rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. Sexual assault is a crime that often blame or responsibility is placed on the victim. It is common in hearing people discuss a sexual assault case to comment on what the victim was wearing, doing, or where they were. If that logic is applied to all crimes then a robbery victim should be blamed for having valuable possessions. Many believe that victims file false reports of rape to get the accused in trouble. FBI studies show that rape has the same rate of false reporting as other major crimes. Are false rape reports filed? Yes, but they are far from being the norm. So why should you care about sexual assault? Because 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the U.S. have been assaulted in their lifetime. You may think the odds are in your favor and it will not happen to anyone you know and love but what if it does. As a community, we should strive to make sure the victims of this heinous crime feel supported, able to report and receive justice in the court system. Victims and family members often say, “I never thought this would happen.” No one plans for tragedy to visit their life but it does and we need to ensure there is support in their greatest time of need. As a community, we need to educate ourselves on a subject that makes most very uncomfortable. By having knowledge concerning sexual assault, we can rid our community of the myths that hold so many victims silent and allow rapists to go free. Odds are that one day someone you love will be the victim and you will want the very best for them. You will want them to feel secure in reporting the crime. You will want them to receive justice in the court system. You will want them to know that what happened was not their fault. Think of the victim, which to you now is a nameless, faceless person. Now imagine that it is your daughter, son, granddaughter, nephew, or yourself. It’s time to talk about sexual assault because it affects us all.