I recently got involved with the title IX movement that is making its way across headlines in the U.S. regarding college campuses, sexual assaults, rapes and how those schools are completely disregarding the physical and emotional well being of survivors.
I am a survivor.
I was assaulted my freshman year at a frat party, and brought it to the attention of the school “advocate”, who informed me that pressing charges would be time consuming and ultimately unsatisfying. It was, quote, “my word against his, and besides you’ll get in trouble for underage drinking”.
Several years later, I was raped by my boyfriend. I never told the school, due to their totally inadequate prior response, and because, well…he was my boyfriend. I thought it didn’t really “count”.
These experiences have molded me, but they don’t define me. However, speaking with other survivors, I realize now my experiences, while horrible in and of themselves, could have been a lot worse. But I have come to terms with what happened, processed it, and made a life for myself regardless.
The question now is, how do I help other survivors? How do I, and by extension, every assault advocacy group, reach potential victims as well as potential perpetrators, and help reverse the tide of assaults happening on college campuses around the country? Do you start young, middle school? What about the parental backlash when they learn their kids are being taught about rape? What is the magical age when kids/young adults absorb the necessary information so that they can make safe decisions? Such as, DON’T RAPE. IT’S BAD. How do you make sure they understand that rape by an intimate partner is just as a legitimate rape as stranger rape? How can you get the parents on board to discuss these issues at home?
Changing ubiquitous college policy is an admirable and necessary goal. But ultimately, societal norms need to be addressed and rearranged. And if we’re having trouble doing that in the U.S., how can we, as survivors, ever hope to help and change places like Darfur, India, Afghanistan and Egypt?
What exactly is the tipping point?