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Sexual assault awareness forms into more than just a hashtag

Infographic by Courtnie Auxier

Shylah Gibson, Editor-in-Chief

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In October of 2017, the #MeToo movement arose and became a viral sensation across the nation. The #MeToo movement was originally created by Civil Rights Activist Tarana Burke who wanted to make a stand against sexual assault and sexual misconduct. For many years, sexual assault has been present from when Linda Gilbert was sexually assaulted when working for Chrysler to Larry Nassar being convicted of child molestation after working with the national gymnastics team.

Sexual assault effects both children and adults. According to rainn.org, the majority of people who are sexually assaulted are under the age of 30, and 7 out of 10 times, the perpetrators are people the victim was acquainted with in some way.

“I was really good friends with this girl and she would constantly talk about sex,” an anonymous sophomore who we’ll call Ally said. “She would talk about how relationships are no fun without sex and other things.”

Oftentimes, when people are victims of sexual assault, they feel as if they are unable to say no.

“It made me feel like if I said no it would make her feel bad and make her upset and I really didn’t want that,” Ally said.

Other examples of sexual assault may come from strangers.

“I was seven years old and I had to be shipped off to Kentucky because both of my parents were locked up for drugs,” an anonymous freshman who we’ll call Jade said. “I had an aunt who was an alcoholic and she used to get really drunk at night and she would let all of her friends do whatever they wanted to me. That happened every day for nine months whenever I was seven years old.”

These events commonly lead to the victim feeling as if it were their fault that the abuse happened to them. The victim may also suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression. Referencing back to rainn.org, 94% of rape victims experience PTSD in the first two weeks after the assault and 30% experience it nine months following the event.

“I have very bad PTSD,” Jade said. “I wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares and stuff like that all the time but as a person, it has just made me stronger because I know how to overcome that stuff now.”

Another recurring example of sexual assault can come from family members.

“I was a victim of sexual molestation from my cousins when I was five years old,” an anonymous senior who we’ll call Amanda said. “When I see or hear things about it, I just know that it’s not okay.”

These kind of events commonly lead to long lasting problems with the victim. The long lasting problems may include depression, as said before, feelings of blame and also the crave for attention or love from others. This craving may lead to the victims performing acts they would not usually do.

“I was perpetrated on by my cousins first, but whenever I moved to Richmond, there were kids down my street that I was friends with,” Amanda said. “I was really insecure and I would have done anything for attention or love and I’m not proud of it but I did things to those kids and it just made me realize that perpetration is a cycle. Once your perpetrated on, it’s a cycle for example, my cousins were perpetrated on as well.”

Sexual assault may also lead to the victim joining therapy or counseling.

“I finally realized that it wasn’t my fault whenever I was in residential,” Amanda said. “I went to residential for behavioral issues and ended up getting treatment in SMY (Sexually Maladaptive Youth) where you get treatment for perpetrating on someone else. I’m embarrassed because of the things I did to those kids. I’m embarrassed because I did it for attention and I did it for love but I will never do that again because it makes me sick to my stomach that I did that.”

As a result of the #MeToo movement and the hope to increase awareness on sexual assault, the Girls Inc. class led by Katie Reising created posters around the school to portray their own opinions.

“We had to create the posters for class, but I got really into it because whenever I was younger, I was raped and I kept hearing people say ‘consent is sexy’ and I have a problem with that,” Jade said. “My poster says ‘consent is not sexy, it’s a basic human right’.”

Jade also expressed her hope that the poster will reach out to both boys and girls.

“I hope my poster will at least show guys and girls both that you need to listen for consent rather than doing whatever you want. I also hope that it will show people to keep in mind what they want and keep them from letting a person do what they want to them in order to make them happy.”

Another common obstacle regarding sexual abuse is the idea that both people should be satisfied in a relationship. Students have explained that a title such as boyfriend or girlfriend does not give consent. If either person is uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with saying no.

“I hope that my poster will allow people to understand that it is okay to say no,” Ally said. “It’s okay to speak up when you’re uncomfortable. Just because someone has a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t mean they have to satisfy them, you also have to be satisfied with the relationship.”

Overall, there are many obstacles regarding these many recurring situations, but there are also many ways to prevent them.

“I’m still on that path to overcome it, but if I had the chance to go back, I would’ve handled things differently,” Jade said. “I would never let my cousins do those things to me again and I would speak up and defend myself.”

Speaking up and explaining one’s values could be considered one of the greatest ways to prevent this abuse.

“If you’re in a position where you’re uncomfortable, say something and don’t just sit there,” Jade said. “If you do say something and that person still tries to come onto you, get away from them, those kind of people aren’t good for you.”

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About the Writer
Shylah Gibson, Editor-in-Chief

I am a senior and I play softball. I plan to attend college at either IUPUI or University of Indianapolis and study forensic science and maybe journalism...

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Sexual assault awareness forms into more than just a hashtag