She is someone’s wife, sister, mother, daughter.
We’ve heard it before.
But have we heard it in its most real context? In its raw form? How about this—she is someone. She is a human being. Period.
First of all, I am not an outraged feminist or a female elitist. But I do believe in human rights. After the Ray Rice allegations and the video being leaked last week of his battery toward his then-fiancee, I am stuck here wondering what validates abuse, especially against women.
Typically after a rape case, society, journalists and the police themselves start asking questions such as, “Why was she out so late?” “Why was she wearing such revealing clothing?” We really should be asking, “Why did he feel so entitled?”
I have even heard a high school girl have the audacity to stereotype victims of rape on our campus. I was giving a tour of our University to a group of high school girls. When the subject of fraternity houses came up, her mother had mentioned she was worried about the possibility of rape at their events. After asking me if this had happened recently, her blonde, blue-eyed haste of a teenager blurted out, “Well, we all know those girls probably deserved it.”
Deserved it? I cannot even validate that comment, let alone wrap my head around what it takes to come to that conclusion. I was shocked to say the least.
So this brings me to my question—when did the blame of the abuse fall on the victim?
As I mentioned at the beginning, we always try to assign value to women because of someone else: they are a wife, sister, mother, daughter. But spoken word public speaker Jeff Bethke put it best, “Value and dignity and worth are ascribed to human beings because they are human beings, not because they are linked to another human being.” Bethke came to our campus back in 2012 and spoke about the issue of degrading women. He has said we are the generation to end it.
Ironically, we are also the generation that created it.
“We’re letting loose the first generation of the most sexually exploited and sexually exploitive people in the history of mankind,” Bethke said.
We look over this issue as if it’s been solved; as if our right to vote in 1920 also granted our rights to our own bodies. We have been greatly misled to believe that all is well in society because according to Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), one in six women in America will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. Do we realize how high that number is? That means in a lecture hall alone, at least 15 women are victims of sexual assault, and it has become the new normal.
I interviewed with the local women’s domestic violence shelter, The Genesis House to learn local statistics. The co-director of shelter advocates, Tara Bates, gave me answers.
“According to the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS), Putnam County reported a total of two hundred and thirty two domestic violence related crimes in 2013,” she said. “One hundred and forty of those were simple assaults and sixty six were aggravated assaults. There was also one reported kidnapping/abduction and one murder.”
Information like this shouldn't be passive, and it most certainly shouldn’t be taken with a grain a salt. This rape culture society is tumultuously turning into a quietly kept epidemic.
So to search for answers, I started with the basics—our campus. I went to the good and trusted Tennessee Tech Confessions to see what the average student thought about women’s abuse on campus. Oh boy, the results were appalling.
“What about the guys who are falsely accused? Better story. Since over half of rape cases are falsely accused. F—— retarded,” student Sam Andrews said on the page.
First of all, there is no evidence anywhere that says half of rape cases are falsely accused. Secondly, I am not trying to be biased toward women. I am completely aware that sexual abuse happens to men, but statistically 9 out of 10 rape victims are female, according to RAINN.
I’m here to discuss why women tend to be the primary targets, as well as how and why we can make an end to it. A common thread in many rape cases is how the coverage of the case is displayed. Usually excuses fall on the victim for “asking for it” or being under the influence. This flips the coin, takes the blame away from the rapist and turns it over to the victim for not knowing his or her boundaries.
“I have honestly never heard anyone ‘blame the victim’ in those cases and don't know where people even hear that stuff,” student Alex Bias said on the Tech Confessions page.
Quotes like Bias’ make me wonder how aware we are of our hyposensitivity to the subject. Regardless of any situation a woman is in, she should never be taken advantage of. Ever. The same goes for men.
Out of the four negative responses I got to my post, every single one of them was from a male. My three other responses were from females stating that rape culture exists. Those statistics can say a lot with very few words.
“Most people don’t believe me,” one said.
A brave female Tech student gave me the opportunity to hear how she was affected by sexual abuse on campus. For her confidentiality, we will call her Emily.
“He attacked me in the car,” Emily said. “I asked him to stop. He told me, ‘You aren’t the type of girl you kiss. You aren’t worthy of dating. You’re the type you just f— and leave.’”
Emily then apologized for the language as she was telling me the story; she began to say she didn’t know that was rape until a friend confronted her. Emily was always led to believe that rape only happens to strangers. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to RAINN, approximately two-thirds of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
“My rapist stopped talking to me and told all of my friends what a slut I was,” Emily said. “Some of them remained friends with him even after I told them I felt betrayed by them.”
In another case, an anonymous girl we will call Ashley, had told me of her story and how her abuser had taken control of her life. At the end of our talk she said these words, “Man, isn’t is mind blowing that the more girls you talk to the more you find out they went through a similar situation.”
Sadly, more and more, girls everywhere know this feeling.
If this is you and you feel alone, accused or are debating your value—do not lose hope. You certainly are not alone. You are never guilty for their actions, and your value can only be decreased by the way you see yourself. There are many resources nearby and plenty of people willing to help you find justice through the American legal system.
How do we bring an end to this issue? We start by making people aware of it. It’s a lot like getting spinach in your teeth. Someone can tell you it’s there, and you can choose to get rid of it or act like it doesn't exist. I am telling you this issue is real and unfortunately thriving in our generation. You can choose to get rid of it or act like it’s nonexistent. The choice is yours.