Picture your best friend, your sister, your mother, niece, daughter, girlfriend, wife, or any other female that is close to you. One day, this person you hold dear was out with some friends at a local bar where she met this handsome guy. They chatted, had a little too much to drink, and ended up going back to his place to eat some pizza and watch some Netflix. Well, that’s what he said they were going to do, anyways.
Then, something happened to this woman that happens way too often on college campuses. She was sexually assaulted by this handsome, charming man from the bar. The next morning she sneaks out and heads home to be comforted by her friends. Of course, they tell her to go straight to the hospital to get checked out and tested. The local hospital informs her that they do not provide rape kits which leaves her with no choice but to go home, try to forget it happened, and hope that she would never see that man again.
A Not-So-Innocent College Town
Sexual Assault has become way too common on college campuses. A CNN article stated that 23% of college women reported that they’ve experienced unwanted sexual contact. Those statistics rose when surveys discovered that 34% of female seniors at University of Michigan, 32% at Yale and 29% at Harvard all reported that they experience unconsensual sex during their four years.
In rural Farmville, Virginia, where I attend Longwood University, the sexual assault reports are being filed throughout the year. So what is a victim to do after they have been assaulted? The first step is to get tested using a rape kit immediately because the results of the test can prove the trauma and provide evidence to prosecute the perpetrator. Unfortunately, Longwood’s students and Farmville locals do not have this resource in Farmville. The closest hospitals that provide rape kits are in Richmond and Lynchburg which are both over an hour away.
Centra Southside Community Hospital is just a ten minute walk from Longwood’s campus and yet, they do not provide the necessary resources to treat sexual assault victims. Longwood University’s school newspaper, The Rotunda, reported on lack of rape kits and stated, “The rape kits were eliminated from Centra Southside after the hospital had to get rid of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program due to insufficient funding for the program.”
Later in the article, the head of Longwood’s Police Department, Chief Beach, explained that they have been dealing with more sexual assault cases recently than in the past couple of years. Shortly after this article was released, Longwood students created a petition to bring rape kits back to the local hospital, however, there are still no kits available at Centra Southside.
Centra Southside needs to rework their funds and find a way to provide this necessary resource to students and locals of Farmville. How can a hospital so close to a college campus not provide treatment for sexual assault victims? Chief Beech confirmed the rise of sexual assault cases and the CNN statistics prove this is happening on all campuses. These victims could be someone close to you.
Where Does It All Start?
The CNN article clearly points out that sexual assault is a huge issue on college campuses. In the textbook titled Gendered Lives, author Julia T. Wood explains the concept called “rape culture.” This term is one of the reasons rape has become so common on college campuses. It’s the idea that though woman say “no” to sexual interactions, it means they are saying “yes,” woman enjoy rape because it fulfills sexual fantasies, or that mean just can’t seem to control themselves once they are aroused.
For instance, a girl is hanging out with a guy and things start to get physical. Before it goes a little too far, the girl says no but the guy takes it as a joke or doesn’t think she really wants him to get off of her. These ideas we have about sexual contact and that “no” doesn’t really mean “no” is an example of “rape culture.”
Another idea the book discusses is called “blaming the victim,” which means that people blame the victim and say it was “her fault” because she was wearing this short skirt or because she left the party with him. Kinda twisted, isn’t it?
These are assumptions that men and woman have about sexual interaction which leads them to force sex on others because in their mind, the other person actually wants it. For example, there’s a popular article titled Confessions of a Date Rapist which was written by a man who raped a girl, but didn’t realize it at the time. He meets a girl at the bar and convinces her to go home with him. Before he admitted he raped her, he rationalized his behavior by thinking:
“She deserved it. If she was gullible enough to fall for that line, then I am not responsible for what happened.”
He also explained that her agreeing to leave the bar with him automatically meant she agreed to have sex with him. It sounds ludicrous when you read it, but it’s these types of thought processes that occur every day and leave thousands of women as rape victims.
How To Make College Campuses Safe Again
It’s obvious that this is an issue that is continuing to rise. We need to control the way we think and how we view sexual interactions we have with others. Just because someone is wearing a revealing top, doesn’t mean they want to have sex. If we control the way we think and teach our children how to respect others, then we could minimize the number of young girls and women that are being assaulted every day. However, we all know this isn’t going to happen over night, therefore, we must provide resources and treatment for those victims, especially if they are in college where the risk of assault is so high.
Remember, this is an issue we can all speak up about. It’s a problem world-wide, not just on college campuses. These victims are or could be your friends and family. Let’s provide the resources in a convenient way for the victims and make further steps to end sexual assault.