Fact: Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
That amounts to over 272,000 victims every single year. Of those victims, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the U.S., nine out of ten will be women.
Even more haunting, 60 percent of these crimes will never go reported, and, even worse, at day’s end, 15 out of 16 offenders will never serve a single day in prison for their crime.
Factor in nonsexual domestic abuse – another unacceptable reality for far too many women – and the statistics only feel more overwhelming.
These numbers are bad enough. What’s worse is that behind every one there is a story and a score of lives – of the victim, their families and loved ones – that are forever changed.
But remarkably, many of these women, in spite of it all, do not fold. These are women who, rather than succumb to their experience, even though it would be perfectly understandable for them to do so, choose to survive.
These survivors are all around us – mothers, daughters, coworkers, friends, and significant others.
On Thursday, students from across campus gathered in support of these survivors and the many victims, both past and future, whose lives will be touched by sexual assault at the annual “Take Back the Night March.”
The event, hosted by the Campus Feminist Alliance and the Office of Women’s Programs and Studies, is just one of the many “Take Back the Night” events held on college campuses since the original event was hosted in 1978 in San Francisco.
That night, nestled in the Lory Student Center Sculpture Garden, survivors and supporters, men and women, listened to the stories of others and the need to transcend sexual assault and gender inequality in the U.S.
In the last two years, there has been considerable progress in eliminating sexual assault. Organizers stated that incidents have dropped by 60 percent during this time period.
The problem is, even with that drop, approximately one in six women will still experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. This is not acceptable.
As a man, I find the prevalence of sexual assault in our society particularly troubling.
This issue, in contrast to much popular opinion, while a problem for women, is not a problem with women. The problem here is men.
That is not to say that all men are or will be abusive. Most will not. But if you look at the numbers, the perpetrators are most commonly men. Even in instances when men are the victims of sexual assault, the assaulter is still, statistically male.
Here’s the deal guys – there is absolutely no circumstance in which sexual violence is justified or acceptable. There is no “she was asking for it” or “we were both drunk, so it was OK.”
If a woman (or another man, for that matter) says no, respect that no and back off. It’s not complicated.
For those of you that understand this simple concept, there is something else you can do: speak.
Let your friends know where you stand, and, if you hear of a potential assault or see a friend being inappropriate, speak up.
Open and honest communication with friends and loved ones is the only way we can beat sexual assault. Gentlemen, the choice is ours – make it wisely.
Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.