Is Our Country Bringing the Right Kind of Awareness to Sexual Assault?

Is Our Country Bringing the Right Kind of Awareness to Sexual Assault?

Carly Steinberg

Feature Image: SAUL LOEB 

The #MeToo movement has sparked nationwide interest on the issue of sexual assault. Sexual assault cases have presented themselves in a variety of different sectors including, but not limited to, education, politics, entertainment, medicine, and sports. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, sexual violence is so common that statistics show 1 in 5 women in the US will be sexually abused at some point during their lives.

During the month of April, we raise awareness for those victims and survivors of sexual assault as we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In doing so, I can’t help but wonder—is our nation bringing the right awareness upon this issue? With both our President and a Supreme Court Justice having such great accusations against them, what type of image are we presenting to the young women of our country? In this day and age, it seems as though there is a case of sexual assault on the news every day. Though the issue is so common, sexual violence should never be normalized. It is never okay, and “men will be men” is an antiquated and invalid excuse. The issue of sexual assault is not one that should be taken lightly, and victims should never be condemned for coming forward and speaking their truth.

And yet, this is what our country did. In September of 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was questioned and doubted for her accusations. She was condemned and accused of lying about something so sensitive and so grave. After hearing testimony from both sides, our country deemed her a fraud and chose a possible sexual predator to serve on the Supreme Court—the highest court of the land, the court that is supposed to be above politics. What type of image are we presenting to the young women of our country? That we are liars? That sexual assault is the victim’s fault? That ultimately, we stand no chance in standing up to a man in a position of power?

So in celebrating National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, let’s recognize the issue the right way. Instead of teaching our young to not be raped, let’s teach them not to rape. Instead of questioning and doubting the victim, let’s question the assailant. Let’s do our due diligence on all those accused, as an accusation of sexual assault is not something that should be ignored.

In light of the #MeToo movement, victims who were afraid to speak out are now finding the courage to come forward. While this coming forward cannot erase the damage done, it can begin to heal the emotional pain that these victims have endured. Recent legislation SB 22, introduced by Senator Connie Leyva, requires that “law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories promptly analyze and test all newly collected rape kit evidence in California”. Passed with unanimous support, SB 22 will ensure that all victims of sexual assault have their case carefully analyzed and investigated. This important piece of legislation will help to bring justice to those affected by sexual assault.

To stay updated and informed on legislation surrounding rape kits and ending sexual assault, follow Joyful Heart Foundation. Founded by actress Mariska Hargitay, Joyful Heart aims to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.”

Sexual assault is everyone’s issue. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). We at bold. listen, we at bold. believe, and we at bold. support.

Carly SteinbergComment