Sexual Assault Awareness
If you're seeing this page, it's because you cared enough to take time out of your busy day to help us. Thank you!
Perhaps you're wondering why we chose the messages we did. This page is here to talk about the meaning behind the messages and why we think they're important.
Let's start with: Rape shouldn't be a punishment for underage drinking.
When a fourteen-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a party in Steubenville, OH, social media was rife with victim-blaming. People said it was her fault she got raped because she was drinking at the party. "What did she think would happen?" people said. "That's what she gets for drinking."
No one, and we mean NO ONE, deserves to be raped. One, it's not a punishment, it's a crime. Two, no matter what someone chooses to do--whether you agree with their choices or not--they don't deserve to be sexually assaulted for it.
As a parent, you may be thinking, "Well, if my kid gets caught drinking, there needs to be consequences." Okay, that's your choice as a parent. But do you really think a consequence of underage drinking should be assault? Of course not.
In the Steubenville, OH case, and in every case of underage drinking and sexual assault, the person who needs punished is the rapist.
Next message: She was raped. He raped her. How we talk about sexual assault matters.
Laura Niemi, a postdoctoral associate in psychology at Harvard University, and Liane Young, a professor of psychology at Boston College, have been conducting research about victim-blaming.
In their study of 994 people, Niemi and Young manipulated the sentence structure, changing who was the subject of the sentence. When the perpetrator was the subject (as in our sentence "He raped her") victim-blaming decreased. When the victim was the subject, victim-blaming and victim responsibility increased.
When they asked people what could have been done differently when the rapist was the subject of the sentence, there were far fewer comments about how the victim could have prevented the rape and more of a focus on the rapist.
So remember, if someone is raped, name who raped them: He raped him. She raped her. They raped him. They raped her. Put the rapist in the hot seat. They committed the crime, so let them suffer the consequences.
Next one: Have you been forced into sex to pay for food? Rent? Some choices aren't choices at all.
Sexual assault isn't just about physical force. Rapists use different tactics to commit their crimes. One of those tactics is giving a choice that isn't really a choice at all. When a rapist sees an opportunity to hurt someone, they sometimes disguise their crime as a bonus or benefit. "You can live here for another month if you make it worth my while."
It's still rape even without the threat of physical violence. It's rape when someone with power over you suggests or hints that you must pay them in sex to gain their favor. It's rape when you feel you have to have sex with someone in order to get what you need. Having to choose between homelessness or rape isn't a choice at all.
Next one: Help End Sexual Violence! Don't rape!
This billboard is all about victim-blaming, and, like the rest, it points out the person we should blame: the rapist.
The list of things crossed out are things we see people say in the comment section of our local news pages. We get it--people want to figure out what happened so they can avoid the same fate. Unfortunately, victim-blaming only hurts someone who has already been hurt and doesn't do anything to address the problem of sexual violence.
When we victim-blame, we help rapists by making excuses for them. We let them off the hook. If we want to end sexual violence, there are several things we need to do: practice respect, consent, and healthy sexuality, learn to recognize and call out sexual violence, and hold rapists accountable.
Let's support victims and collectively point our fingers at the people who prey on others. Help end sexual violence! Don't rape!