To whom it may concern,
Sexual assault. That word made you freeze and rethink your decision of reading this letter. You may have thought, “Oh no, here we go again.” or “Haven’t I read about five of these letters already?” You probably have, why? Because it’s a big issue. A hot topic. There is a large number of college freshmen that don’t know what being sexually assaulted means and are attacked as a result. They are left in the aftermath of mental destruction and physical injuries, and it all could have been “avoided” if that freshman was warned and given the information to protect themselves.
By definition, sexual assault is, “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the recipient. Also falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, incest, fondling and attempted rape.” ("Sexual Assault | OVW | Department Of Justice"). In common words, touching someone without their permission, trying to have sex with someone without their permission, forcing yourself on someone who has not given you their permission is sexual assault.
Sexual assault has been around for centuries, yet it wasn’t until the 1980’s when a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, Mary Koss, coined the term "date rape”, back then it wasn’t even considered a crime to be sexual assaulted. “Nationally, the rate of such misconduct ranged from 13% to 30% across campuses. The risk was highest for freshmen women, whose rate was 16.9%, compared with 11.1% for seniors in 2014-15. Over the course of their college life, 27.2% of senior females reported being victimized.” ("One In Four Female Undergraduates Reports Sexual Misconduct, Survey Finds"). This is generous amount of female students that are sexually assaulted from the very start of their college careers to end. These numbers come off as shocking but if you really think about it, why are we so shocked? Incoming freshman aren’t warned about these facts and statistics unless they go looking for it. They are also unaware of what being sexually assaulted really means and eventually turn into an outgoing senior who believes that it is a social norm. To make matters worse, according to the National Institute of Justice, between 85 to 90% of victims actually know their attacker, and half of those attacks occurred on a date. This may not include any previous assault, but this means that almost all assaults are done by someone the student knew. Rejecting or even refusing to engage in sexual activity on a date could lead to being assaulted. Is this really something a college student should be focused on? Any student should be able to go to school and feel safe and focused on their education. Not stressed and anxious about walking alone on a campus or rejecting a date. “94% of women who are raped experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms during the two weeks following the rape.” ("Victims Of Sexual Violence: Statistics | RAINN"). Post-traumatic stress disorder also known as PTSD is not just for veterans who have served in the armed forces. It is a mental condition that is triggered by a traumatic event. This is more mental strange on a female college student that isn’t necessary.
I don’t believe there needs to be a guide book on how to protect yourself from sexual assault, yet there is. There are some websites titled, “How you protect yourself on a date” or “Ways to protect yourself from unwanted contact” and so on. There are ways for a female student to protect herself. One of the articles by Bustle, titled “10 Ways to Help Protect Yourself From Sexual Assault — Even Though You Shouldn't Have To”, says to use the buddy system, walk home or to class with a suite-mate or someone you know and trust. Also tell someone close to you where you're going at all times, never just leave without knowing you have someone that will check on you. Be careful with police officers, they are human which means they too are prone to have a flawed sense of judgment. Watch your drinks when partying, Party responsibly, and take self defense classes, so on and so on. There are so many “tips and tricks” to protecting yourself. There is one thing that everyone can do. Raise awareness.
This issue not only affects the victim, it also affects the victim's friends and family. Think about a love one of yours that is in college or going to college. How would you feel if it was your sister, cousin, aunt? How about your daughter being a victim? Or worse, your child being a predator. You would be angry, maybe even place blame on yourself. Thinking, “What could I have done?” Sexual assault is not a joke. It is not teasing or goofing around. This is something that can mentally and physically hurt another human being. It takes away a sense of self and safety.
I am well aware that sexual assault isn’t an easy topic to talk about and that it isn’t going to change overnight. However, there is something you can do. You can bring awareness to people's eyes. Educate high school seniors, soon to be college freshman. Give them this knowledge on what sexual assault is and how they can protect themselves. Enforce a stronger legal system so that the perpetrators don’t get away with this crime. Do not just turn a blind eye.
Sincerely, Jahanna Miller
"10 Ways To Help Protect Yourself From Sexual Assault — Even Though You Shouldn't Have To". Bustle.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
Kamenetz, Anya. "The History Of Campus Sexual Assault". NPR.org. N.p., 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
"One In Four Female Undergraduates Reports Sexual Misconduct, Survey Finds". latimes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
"Sexual Assault | OVW | Department Of Justice". Justice.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
"SEXUAL ASSAULT ON CAMPUS". NIJ. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
"Victims Of Sexual Violence: Statistics | RAINN". Rainn.org. N.p., 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.