As a nation, we seem to revisit the same statistics every so often to angrily disavow them. Of female undergraduate students, 23% will experience rape or sexual assault. #MeToo garnered an overwhelming national and international response, with millions of contributions to the hashtag on Twitter within 48 hours of it existing. Almost half of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
But the blame never seems to be claimed, as a couple years later I’ve already forgotten the name of the judge for the Brock Turner case, the faces of the women who have accused the President of sexual assault, and in a decade Kavanaugh’s memory may dissipate in our consciousness if we so allow.
The issue is Turner and Kavanaugh and Trump, but as many who are frustrated now would articulate, it is more so the hundreds of thousands that commit acts just like them. And among these hundreds of thousands are what can only be assumed to be millions that are complacent in the face of sexual assault and violence; those that do not hold criminals accountable, that even encourage such acts. If the majority of Americans — hundreds of millions of us — were as actively justice-loving, rapist-renouncing, abuser-vilifying as we want to believe, so many of these cases and statistics and recurring tragedies would be less unsurprising.
What this repetition implies is that we are surrounded with assaulters, rapists, abusers, and those who would stand aside doing nothing while the atrocity was committed. And what this implies is that we leave some of the most marginalized in our communities to watch this national coverage of something that intimately affects them, surrounded by these people, while we debate the importance of their safety and livelihood.
I don’t mean to say to ignore coverage on Kavanaugh, but if you feel like there’s nothing you can be doing as an ally for something playing out on such a large scope, you probably aren’t paying attention to the people right next to you. The national sexual assault hotline saw a 338% increase in callers — the most ever — after the Kavanaugh hearing. This shouldn’t just be another statistic. These are people in your classes, in your dorm, walking around on campus — and silence hurts them.
Passivity cuts deep wounds; it is a signal one possibly does not care about, or even can make peace with or encourage, acts of sexual violence, and discourages people from reaching out for help. It is your responsibility to make yourself a visible ally. It is our collective responsibilities to make our communities safe ones and hold each other accountable.
We all leave imprints on the lives around us daily in one way or another through our words, actions, and inaction. Let yours be a good one.
University of Redlands On-Campus Resources:
- Redlands Sexual Assault Services: 909-335-8777
- Yucaipa Domestic Violence Outreach – Crisis Hotline: 909-790-9374
- San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services: (909) 885-8884 or www.sbsas.org
- National Sexual Assault Hotline (online chat and phone)
- Domestic Violence Outreach: 909-381-3471