April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Each year as many are carrying out pranks for April Fools Day, I dust off my trusty soapbox and prepare myself to share my story once again. Not because I like talking about what is a very dark point in my life, but because it’s important to me that girls everywhere are safe.
That safety will only come when we can shed light on the darkness and lose the stigma attached to survivors of rape. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, many of us probably have some preconceived notions when we think about rape and sexual assault. I know I did. So here are some truths you probably didn’t know:
*One in six women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. Look at your six closest friends, one of you is likely a survivor.
*60% of sexual assaults are NOT reported to police. My rape happened out of my state of residence. I did not report at the time and when I tried to report once I was safe in my hometown, I was told I would have to travel back to where it occurred to press charges.
*80% of victims are under age 30. I was 26.
*Every two minutes another American is sexually assaulted. In the time it took me to write this post, 15 people were raped. Fifteen lives irrevocably changed.
*Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. My rapist was my husband. Many told me this didn’t count, that because we were married, it wasn’t rape. I almost believed them. But the bottom line is I said no and he didn’t listen. He held me against my will and forced himself on me. THAT IS RAPE, it doesn’t matter who he was.
Rape is NEVER okay. It doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing, if she had a few drinks, if she batted her eyelashes, if you’re dating, if she’s wearing an intoxicating perfume. IT IS NEVER OKAY. It doesn’t matter if he was your friend, if the two of you were/are in a relationship, if you said yes to cuddling but then he took it farther than you were comfortable with. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.
If you’re reading this and you’re a victim of rape, please know that you are not alone. You are strong and brave and IT WASN’T YOUR FAULT. Below you will find some links to pages that will help you on your journey to healing. And if you need to, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will always, always be here to listen and hold your hand.
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) (All statistics in this post came from RAINN)