The cold reality of sexual assault and victim blaming

Graphic for sexual assault story.
Stop. The cold reality of sexual assault and victim blaming

The alleyway. That stench of old garbage in the dumpsters. Every time she walks past that alleyway, tears well up in the corner of her eye. She’ll never be able to forget what he did to her. Time has passed. She regrets not speaking up, or he may have been convicted.

 “I think sexual assault [is] probably one of the most serious issues that any college faces,” said Matt Stone, director of campus security and public safety.

Sexual Assault Illustration resizedAccording to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 out of every 6 women will experience some time of sexual assault in their lifetime. Sexual assault is more than merely being touched inappropriately by someone. Attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to preform sexual acts, and penetration of the victim (rape) are all different forms of sexual assault.

 RAINN also states that 7 out of ten of sexual assaults were committed by someone known to the victim. The victim knowing their assailant might also be a contributing factor to a lack of reporting incidents.

A victim who is afraid of reporting an incident committed by a stranger is even less likely to report an assault committed by a significant other, family member, teacher, or classmate as stated by

When an assailant forces a victim into sexual acts without consent, it may not always be physical force. Perpetrators may also use emotional persuasion, psychological tactics, or some perpetrators will threaten to hurt the victim or the victim’s family in order to make the victim comply. “The bottom line is, one is too many,” says Jason O’Toole, Executive Director of Student Affairs.

For a victim, sexual assault is a humiliating and degrading act. Sexual assault is a violent act on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of love and passion. I’ve heard the common expressions such as “She was asking for it!” or “Boys will be boys,” but what people don’t seem to understand is that a victim never asks for this kind of attack and it is never the victim’s fault.

I think that victim blaming occurs when people try to distance themselves from the topic because sexual assault makes people uncomfortable. I have also heard people ask why the victim didn’t just say “no” or ask why the victim didn’t fight back during the attack. What people don’t understand is that there are many reasons why a victim wouldn’t fight back against their assailant. I don’t think that people should assume why the victim did or didn’t do something in that moment, unless the person assuming has been in a similar situation themselves.

According to RAINN, there are two sexual assaults for every one robbery involving college women. Sexual assault is more prevalent on college campuses than any other crime. I feel that sexual violence is one of the most common crimes committed on a college campus because the perpetrator doesn’t believe they will get caught.

            Sexual assault is a hard topic for people to discuss because I think a lot of people live in denial towards the fact that it is always happening. No victim ever asks for this to happen to them, but still often gets blamed for the situation. For some reason, we question the victim’s truth in the story of the sexual assault instead of questioning the alleged perpetrator.

            Awareness of sexual assault is something we as a society need to get better at. While sexual assault is a very deep topic to discuss, it’s one that we should feel that we have people to talk to. It’s always better for the victim in the long run to speak up about sexual assault. Don’t be the girl who cries when she walks by that alleyway. Instead, be the woman who stands up tall and walks by knowing she received the justice for what happened to her.

– Emma Pray, Staff Member