1 in 5

According to the Center for Disease Control, that is how many women have been raped in their lifetime in the United States. As for men, 1 in 71 have been raped, and nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced other forms of sexual violence. Although April -- Sexual Assault Awareness Month-- is almost over, sexual assault awareness should never end.

Back in college, I took a couple classes about violence against women and sexual and domestic violence. The classes were eye-opening. I distinctly remember my professor explaining a previous class in which a student athlete raised his hand and asked (something to the effect of):

"How don't they know it's rape? Just look in her eyes. If they're empty or she can't keep them open/ her eyes are closed (due to intoxication/incapacitation), don't touch her."

I think oftentimes, especially in college, incapacitation is joked about, laughed about--turning over and not knowing what happened the night before with the person in bed is discussed over hungover breakfast conversation. I'm not judging anyone who's done the aforementioned, but I never really thought it was funny. Most of those encounters sounded more like date rape to me than anything else. Label me prude but the thought frightened and mortified me, honestly. My body is mine and mine alone, I'd think to myself. I deserve to know exactly what is done with it. I always thought I owed that much to myself.

Sexual Assault survivors don't have that "luxury." For various reasons, they don't have the opportunity to have control over their bodies. They might feel just as I described above and yet in seemingly fleeting moments, those feelings could seem irrelevant. Ignored. Because the offender has decided to ignore all cues. To ignore common sense. To ignore morality. To, in some cases, act violently.

Why it happens? That question is a tough one and there are still members of society, including women, who "victim blame"-- who will argue and/or believe that a survivor "asked for it" or "wanted it," despite her not even being able to do simple functions such as stand up on her own. While we might unfortunately never be able to get rid of this way of thinking, people have come up with ways to help people be safer, one of which is the Kitestring web service, founded by a man who wanted "to keep his girlfriend safe."

I recently came across an Elle article discussing Kitestring and thought it was a great creation. In short, it aims to make sure people get from point A to point B safely, notifying their emergency contacts if they don't. I immediately signed up and think you should, too.

Just as we were told in my classes, I too try to spread the message: We must shift the blame and accountability from those who are raped to those who rape and address how to prevent them from raping ever again.

1 comment

  1. The idea of Kitestring is so wonderful. The fact that we actually need an app like this is not. Sometimes humanity really lets me down.
    This post highlights some pretty important thing & I love the sign that woman is holding in the picture. Truth!