June 8, 2016

Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted.


One of my best friends in college was raped. I remember walking into her dorm the morning after the frat formal where it happened, to see her lying in a crying heap on the floor. She was still wearing the blue sparkly dress from the night before. The dress she was so excited to wear. The dress I went shopping with her for and helped her pick out. The dress she got raped in.


I knew her attacker. He was a "nice guy" - friendly, charismatic, tall, handsome, cute in that nerdy kinda way. He's not what you'd envision a "rapist" to look like. Yet, that's just it. A "rapist" is usually not some stranger hiding in a back alley with a ski mask. In fact, of most reported cases, 93% of attackers are someone the victim knew. My friend was SO excited to be his date to his frat formal. Yet just 24 hours later, my friend had to buy a Plan B so she wouldn't get pregnant with her rapist's baby. That's a real 180.


Every TWO minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. That means someone was assaulted since you first read that sentence in the beginning of this post.


I was a big party girl in college. Or the 9 months of it that I survived before my parents sent me to rehab. But that's another story. Beyond being a big drinker and sorority girl, I was also a virgin. Some people are surprised by this. I was waiting to fall in love. That doesn't mean, however, that I didn't have my fun hooking up with boys. Look, I've made out with hundreds of guys -- okay, maybe not hundreds -- thousands* of guys that I probably wouldn't have sober. Yet, for the most part, they treated me with respect. People have often said to me, "Wow, you were a big party girl and hooked up with dudes? You're lucky you never got raped!"


Here's the thing. Not getting raped should not come down to luck. It should be assumed. It should be the norm. It should be a given out of human decency. I shouldn't have to feel "fortunate" because something horrible didn't happen to me. The fact that people even see it this way is a big problem. Instead of teaching women how to protect themselves - "carry this pink mace every where you go", "don't dress too slutty", "don't drink too much", "don't put your drink down", "always bring a girl friend with you", "don't walk home alone at night", "put your key between your fingers so you're prepared to fight an attacker" - how about we teach men not to rape?


Every TWO minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. That means someone was assaulted since the second time you read that sentence in this post.


Let's start treating the victims like what they are - VICTIMS. A human being. Someone who was violently attacked by someone else. It does not matter what they were wearing. Where they were. How late it was. How drunk they were. Who they were with. Who they've slept with in the past. What their criminal record is. What they ate for breakfast that morning. The fact of the matter is is that someone else violated them - intruded their body in the most intimate way possible.


Rape is so much more than just those "20 minutes of action". 94% of women who are raped experience PTSD-like symptoms during the 2 weeks following a rape. 30% of women reported to experience PTSD symptoms 9 months following a rape. 33% of reported rape victims contemplate suicide, while 13% actually attempt it. Victims are more likely to use drugs following a rape. 38% of reported victims experience issues within family, work, school, and relationships following a rape. This affects victims for LIFE - not just "20 minutes of action".


Every TWO minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. That means someone was assaulted since the third time you read that sentence in this post.


The whole Brock Allen Turner/Stanford Rape case gets me so seething mad. I am so upset, angry, and hurt for this brave, strong woman that has endured so much and hasn't gotten the justice she deserves. However, what makes me even sadder is thinking about all of the cases that haven't gone viral. The young women that were made out to be "liars". The young women that "didn't have enough evidence". The young women that wanted to try to forget the situation altogether, so they didn't report it - like my friend. In fact, only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported. And yet out of 1,000 reported rapes, 994 perpetrators won't go to jail or be convicted.


I ran into my friend's rapist a few years after it happened. He was standing in line at a NYC club. Chills ran down my spine as soon as I saw his curly hair and dumb wide-frame glasses. We locked eyes. We both knew. I hate him. I hate what he stands for. I hate that my friend didn't report him and never got to see him get the punishment he deserved. I hate that he could possibly do this again. If he hasn't already.


Every TWO minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. That means someone was assaulted since the fourth time you read that sentence in this post.


1 in 6 women have been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. I know at least 3. I'm "lucky" that I'm not one. These women are someone's daughter. Someone's sister. Someone's best friend. Someone's mother. Someone's teacher. Someone's wife. But above all - this is a human being. She shouldn't have to be directly in your circle or in a relation of possession to you in order to gain your empathy.


If you have women in your life, I encourage you to open the discussion and see what they've experienced. To a creepy dude jacking off on a train, to an unwanted grope in an office environment, to a rape - almost every woman has some kind of story. I encourage you to listen. Just listen. Don't feel the need to defend yourself or the male gender. Listen and empathize for what she's been through. No, not all men rape. But, yes, all women have experienced some kind of sexual assault/harassment.


If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or rape, you can get help by contacting RAINN  24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or www.rainn.org.


Also, if you want to help remove the Judge that only gave Brock Turner 6 months in jail, you can sign the petition here. It will only take "1 minute of action". https://www.change.org/p/california-state-house-recall-judge-aaron-persky


Every TWO minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. That means someone was assaulted since the fifth time you read that sentence in this post. That means in the past 10-15 minutes it took you to read this - assuming you read it in one sitting and weren't distracted by Facebook messages or getting your Easy Mac out of the microwave - at least 5 people were sexually assaulted.


Let's all be kind to each other.





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