In the past year, the world saw movements such as #MeToo and #StandWithYou alongside big names in Hollywood and celebrities around the world. Taking a stand against sexual assault and harassment became a rallying cry for all.
This public approach to protesting and confronting the issue came after multiple victims of assault came forward. Accusations spread throughout Hollywood news outlets, politics and more. Unfortunately, this is not a new occurrence in society.
Sexual assault is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as, “illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the assailant (such as a doctor) in a position of trust or authority.”
According to recent statistics, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every 98 seconds.
The University Journal’s editorial board agree that the justice system in our country should protect these victims or, at the very least, make sure the person or people who attacked them pay for their crimes.
Unfortunately, this is not always the reality.
It has been reported that up to 99 percent of perpetrators of sexual assault and violence will walk free. That means that out of every 1,000 rape cases, 994 rapists serve no jail time or receive any serious repercussions for their actions. In the United States, more criminals get put in jail and sent to prison for robbery than for rape.
Many members of the editorial board discussion recounted experiences they have had with sexual assault, including personal experiences and experiences of family members and friends. With the board in agreeance that changes to the justice system are necessary, the conversation shifted to how sexual assaults could be avoided altogether.
One member of the editorial board made comments such as, “Don’t put yourself in a situation where you could be raped,” “Learn how to defend yourself against the perpetrator,” “You should say no up until they have to do it by force and let justice be served.”
While there may be things one can do to potentially reduce the chance of becoming a victim, the majority of the editorial board agreed that this mindset had the tendency to place the full burden of rape prevention and assault on potential victims. This mindset does not look at the violence as a terrible crime, but looks at it as a given outcome.
The editorial board questioned, “Why are people telling half the world’s population how to survive sexual predators and assault rather than telling the other half not to be sexual predators and commit assault?”
It could be argued that the low percentage of convictions means that there are fewer people sent to jail if the accusation is false. According to the Make A Difference Project “data collected by were collected by law enforcement agencies for all sexual assault reports received in an 18- 24 month period. Of the 2,059 cases that were included in the study, 140 (7%) were classified as false.” That means at least 93 percent of reported rapes are rightful accusations.
Some editorial board members said later accusations were unfair to possible accusers. Others stated there is a difference between “innocent until proven guilty,” and someone being brave enough to come out with their story and experiences only to have everyone tell them they “can’t prove it now.”
Two-thirds of the editorial board believe rape and sexual assault are traumatic experiences that can take the victim time to process. This is especially significant if they have been attacked by someone they care about and know. In those cases, the victim may forgive them and not realize until later that what they went through was assault.
If you or anyone close to you has experienced sexual assault and harassment you can call the 24-hour national hotline at 800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider. Locally, you can contact the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center at the 24-hour hotline, 435-865-7443, or the business line 435-867-9411.
Carlee Jo Blumenthal