STORY BY CARA REGAN
We all know sexual assault exists, especially in the past year with colleges across the country under fire for their startling lack of policies.
It is a topic that makes people uncomfortable, so it’s easy to ignore it altogether. However, what makes me uncomfortable is the fact that one in five women have been sexually assaulted during their college years.
I am uncomfortable with the fact that these women are in my classes, my jobs and my family. I want to know how people can internalize this reality and not take a stand against sexual assault.
I am an intern at the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Often times when I tell people this I can physically see their discomfort. They won’t look me in the eye and then struggle to change the subject.
Ever since I began to speak up about sexual assault, I’ve been viewed as a woman whose opinions are too strong, actions are too aggressive and overall mentality has turned from delicate to unattractive.
In my work and everyday life, I’ve come across people who don’t believe the validity of sexual assault cases.
This is especially prevalent on college campuses where a big part of the culture is focused on hookups, parties and alcohol.
Many argue that if a woman is out drinking and flirting with a guy than she can’t possibly have the grounds to report a case because she was clearly asking for it.
We have to stop making assumptions and excuses for this behavior.
It shouldn’t be a groundbreaking idea that even if a woman flirts, wears a short skirt and has a drink in her hand that she may not want to go home with a guy.
Staying quiet about sexual assault is not an option.
Not until Columbia University can take action for the student who carries her mattress across campus until her rapist is suspended.
Not until every college has an effective sexual assault policy. Not until I, a 20-year-old female can walk alone at night and not worry about what could happen to me.
I can share all kinds of statistics of sexual assault, but the message won’t go through unless our society starts viewing them less as numbers and more as lives.
As a campus, community and overall society we need to speak up and not be afraid.
We can no longer ignore something that’s causing pain in so many people’s lives.
It’s time for change.