When we were younger, our parents would always tell us “Don’t speak to strangers.” Today, children learn about “Stranger Danger” in schools across the country. As children, we don’t realize the terrors of what can result if you get caught with a creep. Adults give special attention to ensuring that children are safe from the horrors of life. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but we do try.
Once one crosses over into being a teenager, there isn’t as much of a focus on reminding people to be careful. Assuming once we get to a certain age we “should know better than to put ourselves in harm’s way.” It seems that by the time you’re in high school, you should be able to discern right from wrong, let alone when you get to college.
When someone is sexually molested in middle school or high school, say, by a peer for sake of discussion, the blame is hardly (if ever) turned on the victim. Then in college, it’s increasingly more difficult to place the blame. The line of consent is blurred by alcohol, peer pressure and drugs.
College students all over the country are being raped by their peers and feel like they are to blame. I know four personally: three girls and one guy who are all between 20 and 27.
“He told me if my shorts weren’t so short then he wouldn’t want me so bad,” one said to me.
“He said I was flirting with other guys and that after this I would never want anyone else.”
“His friends were making fun of him because I wouldn’t put out.”
“She wanted a baby.”
It’s easy to say that people portray what they want. It’s also safe to say that many people want a lot of sexual attention. Yes, it’s one thing to say that. It’s another thing to say that all people who dress differently than what you think is acceptable are “asking to get raped.”
Nobody wants to get raped. Nobody wants to feel used.
I’m not talking about random strangers either. The people who have told me their stories were either friends with or dating the people that raped them. They shared a friendship and a love for each other, sure, but none of them were willing to do what they were forced to do.
Now, they’re all dealing with their feelings that they brought it upon themselves. One is getting married and dealing with the fact that he is scared to sleep with anyone else. Another has a baby she put up for adoption, which she wishes so badly she could provide for him the life he deserves.
Being sexually abused can also result in sexual impotence and/or a sexist attitude.
Yet, nobody talks about it. Not once have I heard about a rape clinic or rape help in the two colleges that I’ve attended. Then, I have to wonder, if they were there would anyone go?
The shame that America has put on the concept of rape is unbearable. Sure, we think of the person who did it as a “(fill in the blank).” We put them on trial while the person who was really affected tries to deal with the shame and guilt of what has happened, often even blaming themselves above anyone else.
We’re not giving enough attention to this growing epidemic. It’s happening to more and more people every day. It might have happened to you. Or, maybe it happened to someone you love. You may never know.
De-stigmatizing the American concept of rape could not only save a lot of lives but also prevent other problems in the future.
Don’t hesitate to talk to someone if you’ve been raped, no matter how long ago it was. If you have children in college, let them know that you care about them enough to share even the things they’re guilty about. It could save their lives.
Groups like Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) are great places to start. Just call 1 (800) 656-HOPE or click here to talk with someone online.