Why Men Must Speak Up About Sexual Assault

I was going through old posts on my previous blog and felt compelled to share this. It was especially interesting to come across it since I wrote the post almost a year before I had even considered becoming a rape crisis counselor. I've learned a lot since then, and there is more that I would add if I were to rewrite it. Nonetheless, read on...

Every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in America. Put in perspective, by the time you’ve finished reading this post at least one woman will have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. Even more devastating, according to the Department of Justice, 20-25% of the female college population could experience an attempted or completed rape this year.

Awareness of violence against women, particularly sexual assault, has been a cause taken up by many women across the country. It is important that we as women voice our concerns about issues that affect us, but it is imperative that we do not stand alone in this fight.

In today’s society women are consistently portrayed as sex objects. Whether it is in a fashion advertisement or pornography, the objectification of women has become something as common as a teenager with a cell phone. Therefore it comes as no surprise to me that there are men who have no qualms about using women as tools for their own sexual pleasure. These are men who see a woman’s body as something to be conquered and find pleasure in demonstrating their physical dominance through sexual assault. Simply put, it is an inhumane act of cowardice that exhibits a complete disregard for women.

Victims of sexual assault often find it difficult to speak up and identify their assailant. Moving on with life and healing after being sexually assaulted can be a long, difficult process. Understandably, there are numerous resources available to victims to deal with the legal aspects as well as the psychological and possible physical health impacts that arise from the incident.  However, these resources fail to get to the source of the problem itself. In order for the statistics to change, a general mentality toward sexual assault must first change.

Four in five sexual assaults against women are committed by men. If there is ever a chance of changing this situation in our country, it is imperative that the male population takes a stand. For every woman who becomes more educated about sexual assault or has the courage to report a crime, it is for naught if the devastation caused is not understood by men everywhere.

Over the last several years, there has been a growth in the number of organizations committed to educating men on the prevalence of sexual assaults against women in society. Organizations across the country such as the non-profit Men Can Stop Rape, Haverford College’s Men Against Sexual Assault and Rape group, and Harvard University’s Men Speak Up campaign work to convey the message that this is not just a woman’s issue, but every man’s as well.

Women are your mothers, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters. We need more men everywhere to stand up for what is right. Not only do men have the power to change the current reality, but you also have the responsibility to do so.