Women start learning about how to protect themselves from sexual assault in middle school. As a woman I can’t know for sure but I highly doubt that men ever start learning how to protect themselves. However, the concept of protecting oneself from sexual assault is flawed to begin with. It suggests that sexual assault is something that just happens, like a sunburn or the common cold. All you have to do is follow the proper procedure and nothing bad will happen to you. Put on your sunscreen, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer.
‘Protecting yourself’ is a concept that is contrary to the facts. Sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time, and no amount of careful planning can protect everyone. There is no magic list of things you can do to stop yourself rom being attacked. So, I’d like to address the root of the problem: Rapists. If there are no rapists, then nobody can get raped. Humans of Brock University, I present to you:
How Not to Rape People
You’re at a party. Another guest at the party has had too much to drink and is on the verge of blacking out. You helpfully escort them to a bedroom to lie down. Don’t rape them.
You’re out at night walking along a path in the park. It’s dark, the street lights are really the only light. You see someone else running with their headphones on, dressed in skin tight running clothes. They’re alone. They’re vulnerable. Don’t rape them.
It’s late on a Saturday night and you’re walking home from the bar. You see someone across the street. They’re dressed for the club, or maybe they’re just in sweats and a t-shirt. They’re walking alone because they can’t get a cab. Don’t rape them.
You and a date are at home watching a movie. You invited them over for “netflix and chill” and they actually picked a show to watch. You’re a little disappointed that this isn’t going the way you hoped. Don’t rape them.
You and a date are alone in the bedroom. You’ve been making out for a while and you’re both naked. Your date says they’ve had enough, they’d rather not go any further. Don’t rape them.
Though the above situations may seem strange to you, a lot of people consider these to be dangerous situations that sexual assault survivors have put themselves in. Drinking too much at parties, being out alone at night, provocative clothing, going to a Tinder date’s house, or taking your clothes off are all situations that have been used to blame the victim and suggest that the victim ‘invited the assault’. When we look at it from this angle, we see that the solution was not a change in behaviour for the potential victim, but rather their attackers.
We hear a lot of statistics about how many people are sexually assaulted every year, and we even know that the numbers we do have are wildly inaccurate. Most people who are sexually assaulted don’t report what’s happened to them because they fear they will be blamed it or be accused of lying. Or maybe it’s that they couldn’t have been raped because who did it, or because they’re a man and men can’t be raped (for the record, yes they can).
According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The YWCA in Canada says it’s more like one in three. Statistically, men are less likely to be assaulted — 1 in 33 men will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime — but male university students are five times more likely to be assaulted than non university students. Statistics for racialized or trans men and women are even higher.
You can do something to stop this. It’s simple: Don’t rape people. Nobody asks to be raped. Take the onus off of potential victims to protect themselves from assault. Learn about consent, make sure you have it, and if there’s any confusion, stop. The key to stopping people from being raped is to stop people from raping them.
Sexual violence and harassment are more common than you might think. It can happen to anyone. If you need someone to talk to, there are people on campus who are willing to listen.
Text 289-990-7233 to reach A Safer Brock, a 24-hour (anonymous if you want) text support line for survivors of sexual assault.
To reach Brock’s on campus Sexual Violence Response and Education Coordinator, call extension 4387, or visit DeCew 214.
If you need help right away, call campus security at 905-688-5550 extension 4300 or call 911.
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