Dear Next President,
Do you have a daughter? A wife? A neice? A sister? I’ll bet you had a mother, or know at least one woman. Have any of them ever been sexually assaulted or raped? Unfortunately the statistics are not in their favor, according to the website RAINN, “1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men are sexually assaulted.” This statistic is probably untrue, given the fact that only about 8%-37% of people actually come forward with what happened to them. The reasoning behind so few people speaking out is our justice system. They fear victim blaming, and they fear going through the chaos of a trial (if they even get that far) and then the person who destroyed them, the person who changed their lives forever, won’t see any or little jail time. However, there is a person who can change this: you.
Consent is a word many americans are familiar with, but don’t the meaning of. Consent is giving permission to allow someone to do an act that involves another person’s body. Another misconception about consent is consent can not be given while a person is intoxicated in any way, and according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism “approximately one-half of all sexual assault victims report that they were drinking alcohol at the time of the assault, with estimates ranging from 30 to 79 percent...” The definition of rape is not having proper consent and engaging the sexual act anyway. The burden, or the fear, and hatred of oneself that follows being raped, sexual harassed or sexually abused is hard for some people to understand. They will never understand how often you blame yourself or hate yourself, how the person who did this to you has manipulation over your mind and thoughts. It’s so hard to bounce back and treat yourself right, because you think you are nothing more than piece of trash that anyone can pick up and throw away. What makes the whole process even worse is according to the website Rainn.org, “Only three out of every 100 rapists will ever spend even a single day in prison” the website also states “Based on older data, RAINN had previously estimated that about 6% of rapists ultimately go to prison for their crime.” This means that our justice system has become more lenient on rapists, sexual harassers, and sexual abusers. I realize that we are the land of the free, but should people who ruin lives be allowed to walk free? I myself, and many other people who has suffered through the consequences rape, sexual harassment, or sexual abuse in some way whether directly or indirectly don’t think so. Another reason it’s so important for rapists, harassers, and sexual abusers to go to jail is they are often repeat offenders, according to Slate.com and a study done on college men, “found that only about 6 percent of the men surveyed had attempted or successfully raped someone” which may seem small, but the article goes on to say “most of the rapists were repeat offenders, with each committing an average of 5.8 rapes apiece.” So when a judge lets a rapist walk free, they let them go out and rape, and ruin someone again. Meaning another life will be ruined, another court, another judge letting them walk free, and back to square one.
So, how can you help to end this cycle? A good start would be making court rulings stricter on minimum punishments for rapists, abusers, and sexual assault. If we had this before, Brock Turner, one man who ruined a young girl’s life by raping her behind a dumpster while she was drunk and who was practically let go afterwards, would still be in jail, he wouldn’t have spent only 90 days in jail. If we as a nation can get to that point, that’s wonderful, but once again there’s a problem, so few people speak up how can we get more people who do these things in prison? And how can we make it so they can’t legally get out? We need to stop victim shaming, and I do realize that unfortunately this is a part of the american culture, but I believe that education about rape and victim shaming can change that, which is why we need the talk of rape to no longer be silenced. People need to understand that no one has control over another person’s actions, a victim of rape or sexual abuse was not asking for it. I don’t think people realize how much rape or sexual abuse hurts someone, and more than just physical pain, but the mental and emotional pain. Rape should be talked about in classrooms, homes, and businesses, just bringing it up and letting kids know it’s not okay to rape, and if you are raped it is not your fault, letting them know that victim blaming and/or shaming is not okay. This will make kids who have been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually abused feel safer. Changing the mind of the American people won’t be easy, but neither is dealing with the burden of rape. If we can end rape culture, we can end rape. Thank you for reading, let’s work together to make America safer.
Aurora A. Mendez