“Our first goal is prevention through education. Information is always the best way to combat sexual violence. Our larger goal is to raise awareness to an issue that should have no place in society and especially in our schools.”
Biden goes on to speak about the severity of our nation’s problem with sexual assault, and the distorted views that have led to a universal mentality of victim blaming. He speaks about our nation’s need to address sexual assault on college campuses, a place that rape and assault is so often covered up in an attempt to save-face and pretend like sexual violence is not a problem.
“Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn,” said Vice President Biden. “That’s why we’re taking new steps to help our nation’s schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus.”
Biden’s speech is a long time coming, as sexual assault is the number one violennt crime on college campuses; for those who have been fighting for years to get our administration to pay attention, it is a small but significant step in the fight against sexual abuse. The letter, which addresses some of the widespread institutional downfalls, requires schools: to support victims of sexual assault by not punishing them for underage drinking and drugs (if involved) thereby recognizing rape and sexual assault as a far more serious crime than an alcohol-related misdemeanor; to inform survivors of their rights to a full investigation, providing advisement of the outcome should a review take place; and to investigate all reported sexual assaults in a timely manner.
He includes vivid stories of victims; victims that were brutally raped and assault that were later blamed for what happened to them because of the way they dressed or acted, the places they went, or the simple fact that they were hurt by someone they knew and loved. Passionately declaring that ”When it comes to sexual abuse, it’s quite simple: no means no. “No means no if you’re drunk or you’re sober; no means no if you’re in bed in a dorm or on a street… And it’s a crime to disregard no. The allocation of blame has been for too many centuries allocated in a way that’s totally irrelevant and inappropriate.”
“So much more needs to be done to empower younger women as well as empower and educate younger men,” he added, touching on a very important aspect of the battle against sexual assault.
“No matter what a girl does, no matter how she’s dressed, no matter how much she’s had to drink, it’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ok to touch her without her consent. This doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a coward. A flat-out coward.”
I couldn’t agree more, Vice President. Thank you.
I highly recommend watching the entire letter.
The goal of SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
What can you do to help? For starters, educate yourself on the reality of sexual assault in our society today. Here’s a quick review to help:
Sexual assault: Forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.
Acquaintance assault: involves coercive sexual activities that occur against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury. These sexual activities are imposed upon them by someone they know (a friend, date, acquaintance, etc.).
Incest: sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent.
Consent: Consent occurs when both partners freely and willingly participate in sexual activities.
The legal definition of rape includes any sexual contact without consent. Consent cannot be legally given, in most states, if a person is:
- Under 17
- Mentally incapacitated
- Drunk or high
Additionally, the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” So, even if a person does not fight back or explicitly say “no,” they still are not necessarily giving consent.
- •1 in 4 females will be the victim of sexual abuse by the time they graduate from college.
- •1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse
- •According to the U.S. Department of Justice, somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes.
- Victims of sexual assault and rape stretch across every age, race, class, gender and demographic.
- Sexual violence is the most common violent crime on American college campuses today.
- Young women, ages 16-24 are FOUR times more likely to be raped than other women.
- •84% of rape victims know their attacker
- •For every 1 rape reported, it is estimated that 6 are not
- •The most common reasons women give for why they did not report the crime is the belief that it is a private, personal matter or they are afraid their assailant will retaliate.
- •In 75% of college rapes, alcohol is involved. 55% of victims and 80% of perpetrators were intoxicated. Alcohol is the #1 date-rape drug.
- •1 in 12 college men admitted that they have performed acts that could be defined as rape.
- •30% of men admitted they would force someone to have sex with them if they knew they would not get in trouble.
- •On average, it takes a victim of sexual assault/abuse 5 years to tell anyone about the incident.
- •70% of women with eating disorders have been sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetime
- •99% of rape victims are female (10% male)
- •99% of rapes are perpetrated by men (1% are perpetrated by women)
- •Approximately 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends, 35% by acquaintances, and 5% by other relatives.
- •The FBI estimates that less than 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.
- •In a national survey 27.7% of college women reported a sexual experience since the age of fourteen that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, and 7.7% of college men reported perpetrating aggressive behavior which met the legal definition of rape.
- •The National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that for 1992-1993, 92% of rapes were committed by known assailants. About half of all rapes and sexual assaults against women are committed by friends and acquaintances, and 26% are by intimate partners.
- •Victims of rape often manifest long-term symptoms of chronic headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, recurrent nausea, decreased appetite, eating disorders, menstrual pain, sexual dysfunction, and suicide attempts. In a longitudinal study, sexual assault was found to increase the odds of substance abuse by a factor of 2.5.
- •Victims of marital or date rape are 11 times more likely to be clinically depressed, and 6 times more likely to experience social phobia than are non-victims. Psychological problems are still evident in cases as long as 15 years after the assault.
**Statistics compiled through Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, RAINN, and Porchlight Counseling Center.
This is a great article about the life-altering consequences of sexting on one teenage girl and the reality of how technology has changed our world ….not always for the better. Written by Jan Hoffman for The New York Times, it’s a must-read. Check it out and pass it on.