It is a new year for college students. New year. New friends. New classes.
This also means new parties, new drugs, new drinking games, new risks that college students find themselves taking just to belong with a specific campus group. According to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted, within her first year at college; 3% of college men reported surviving rape as a child or adult.
Each year, young men and women across the country, scattered all over the world, are at risk for unwanted sexual advances. Sexual predators do not discriminate when choosing a victim, and the saddest part is that most are acquaintance rapes. The saddest part about this reality is that universities cover up these occurrences or do not correctly handle the situation, and victims are shamed for speaking out. When sexual assaults actually do make the news, the first questions asked are “Well, what was she wearing? Was she drunk? Were drugs involved?” Let me make this one thing clear. No woman, or man, is ever asking to be forced to do anything he or she does not want to do – sexual or otherwise. Consent takes two people to make a joint conscious decision to do something.
Consent is defined as an agreement to do something, or permission for something to happen. No means no.
Lady Gaga recently released her new single “Til it Happens to You”, and the music video that accompanies it is just as moving as the lyrics of this great new song. She refers to college campuses as a hunting ground, as clearly told by the cover for this single. She lays it out for all victims – people are here for you. We cannot ever know what you are going through; we can never sympathize with how you feel, but we can help you work through it.
I never gave anyone the chance to help me. I kept it inside for so many years. Finally, I started telling people what happened, and it felt good, but I will never forget what happened and it will always affect how cautioned I am in unfamiliar situations. Trust has been broken. Sometimes, I feel broken. There are days where I blame myself, and then there are days where I just blame him.
The only thing I can say is that I do my best to not be a silent bystander when I am out. All you can do is offer your help and watch out for others before it can happen to them too.