Thousands of men and women are sharing stories of being sexually assaulted. Society has become more accepting in terms of acknowledging the prevalence of sexual violence.
It is more acceptable to discuss these concerns, but we are not any safer because of it. While the number of people speaking out against this issue is growing, so is the number of cases.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), there are over 460,000 victims of rape and sexual assault that are 12 or older in the U.S. each year. But only 23% of sexual assaults are reported to the authorities.
This shows that we are no closer to ending sexual assault or preventing it.
There have been many sexual assault awareness campaigns, but they can do only so much. For real change to happen, it has to come from within institutions.
Some institutions, like universities, can make it difficult for victims to get justice.
According to Best Colleges, victims of sexual assault must navigate an emotionally taxing and time-consuming process to report their assault at universities. Many college students do not have the time to balance this with their school work, so they don’t report it.
Also, colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault, according to NPR. When women finally gain the courage to speak out about their assualt, their abuser might not get punished severely enough.
Soma Sara, who attended University College London, founded Everyone’s Invited after posting her own story of growing up surrounded by rape culture on social media, according to Cosmopolitan. This prompted numerous responses from others with similar experiences.
Sara said that certain behaviors within an educational setting have been normalized and that this leads to perpetrators committing more serious crimes in the future—all of which has a long-lasting and damaging impact on survivors.
While institutions have a responsibility to their members, they also have a responsibility to the public. Institutions need to do a better job of speaking truth to power and making sure that the public knows about these issues. They must let the public hold them accountable.
Sexual violence is perpetrated by friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers. It can happen to anyone. This is why we must do a better job of creating a safer culture that is free from sexual violence.