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Mead High School’s Student News

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More work needs to be done to prevent sexual assault (Opinion)

Sexual assault and harassment is flying too far under the radar, leaving girls emotionally and physically damaged
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Skylar Whalen
For those dealing with sexual assault, it can feel like you are drowning, vulnerable and exposed.

It is devastating growing up to be shown entertainment of Disney Princesses, encouraging you to be strong and courageous. As a little girl, you’re told that you are enough and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. You’re taught that good things will happen to those who are good and vice versa for those who are bad. 

This is devastating because, for many girls, the world later reveals to them that this is not the case. It used to be easy to be a girl, but not anymore. In the back of any young woman’s mind is the fear of safety, whether from the minds and thoughts of others or another’s harmful acts. Approximately 442,724 women were raped and sexually assaulted in the US in 2022, far more than in previous years. 

I will give acknowledgement to the men who experience sexual assault as well. About 89,053 men were reported to have experienced rape and sexual assault as well. 

Everyone affected by this serious issue should be respected, but in the interest of my stance, I am a young woman. I have not seen men affected by the same levels of harassment and assault that I and my female counterparts have witnessed or experienced. Much of the time, I have witnessed levels of vulgar disrespect for us as women and our desire to exist without being used for what we can give to others.

Sexual assault is defined as “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape[,] fondling or unwanted sexual touching, and forcing a victim to perform sexual acts.” Eight out of 10 sexual assaults are done by a person known to the victim. 

Sexual assault can also result in “bodily harm or injury, as well as psychological and emotional trauma.” 

Sexual harassment consists of unwanted touching, gesturing, and jokes. It also includes people pressing you for “sexual favors” for something that you deserve or want in school, work, or basic respect.

I have personally dealt with different instances of sexual assault and harassment. I felt like it was my fault for “letting it happen”—the thing is, I didn’t “let it happen.” It’s not my fault for being harassed or assaulted. I want anyone reading this to know that it is not their fault for what someone else did to them. No one deserves to be mistreated and disrespected like that.

With so many cases of sexual assault happening, you’d think something would be done to put a stop to this physical and emotional harm, right? In extreme cases of rape, only one out of four perpetrators is arrested. Only one out of four arrests leads to felony convictions or incarcerations. So basically, if a group of sixteen rapists were lined up, all but one would walk free and face no punishment for their violence or violation of another person.

It can be hard to stand up for yourself in a society and justice system that see your existence and daily trials as anything but significant. Many sexual assault victims don’t feel like they can tell anyone or face their abuser in a legal matter. Sadly, 90 percent of those survivors don’t ever report their abuse to law enforcement, and more than 30 percent refrain from telling anyone. 

Many cases in the media surrounding sexual assault result in personal details being shared publicly. Then, attention turns to those details and not the issue of abuse at hand.

There can be feelings of guilt, shock, bitterness, and numbness that victims are too ashamed to share after or during the time they were assaulted.

No street or building is excluded from this type of behavior, not even schools, where we are required to attend by law.

What will it take for people to do something about this? Boys, I will address you directly. I know there are young men who will come to our side, but what will it take for some of you to come to our support as young women who feel vulnerable to this abuse? Does sexual assault have to impact your little sisters? Will you have to see your mother harassed in the grocery store? Will you have to wait until your future daughter comes sobbing to you about how she was addressed or taken advantage of?

It is up to us to break the habit—to break the cycle. Take no as no. Don’t continue to pursue. Our schools need to educate their students about consent. If it isn’t a positively toned “yes” the first time, then it was never a yes at all—it was a no. If you see or know someone is being assaulted, address it. If you see someone being harassed or being catcalled, put a stop to it. Make the harasser stop. We need to stop normalizing this behavior in the continuously consumed media and how boys are raised to think of women. It is up to us to educate people that this treatment is completely wrong and that sexual assault needs to stop.

View Comments (6)
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About the Contributor
Skylar Whalen
Skylar Whalen, Editor-in-Chief

Skylar Whalen is a senior. She is this year's editor-in-chief. Skylar enjoys painting, singing, and playing softball. She is a huge animal lover and works with dogs outside of school. Skylar plays competitive softball and hopes to play in college. She is excited to help other writers succeed and grow. Skylar can’t wait to work with new people and produce engaging stories for the community around her. She also enjoys having the excuse to write about herself in third person and make her seem interesting.

   
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Comments (6)

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  • B

    Bekah DennisMar 17, 2024 at 11:31 am

    this is such an important topic to talk about, i think you did an amazing job showing and advocating for the girls experiencing these things. i love this article!

    Reply
  • R

    RaefMar 11, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    Although the evidence is clear that women and girls are disproportionately the target of sexual assault and rape, as a male who has experienced sexual assault and harassment as well, I think it is somewhat disingenuous to male victims and survivors, as most of us stand up for our female and gender non-conforming counterparts in this experience. Also, the perpetrators of sexual violence are not entirely male, with my main experience with perpetrators of this type of violence being male, but I have also experienced sexual harassment, attempted trafficking, and the enabling of male perpetrators at the hands of women as well. On the other hand, it is clear that the majority of gender-based and sexual violence is committed by cis males, and that clear sexual education which makes clear the concept of consent to all is critical in American society, especially in a society of rape culture and the allowing of gender-based and sexual violence.

    Reply
    • S

      Skylar WhalenMar 11, 2024 at 1:42 pm

      I do see where you are coming from. As I did state earlier on in the article, I know there is sexual assault that happens to men. My opinion is coming from point of view of being a woman, and what I have seen in my life or heard about from others. My purpose of this article was to clearly propose that we as a society need to take better action to end sexual assault as a whole.

      Reply
  • S

    Shayd FullerMar 11, 2024 at 11:50 am

    Thank you for being vulnerable with us Skylar. This is beautiful.

    Reply
  • I

    IsabellaMar 11, 2024 at 11:50 am

    I love this article!!!! You have really expressed my thoughts and what I think. I love how you personally address the men and the boys who cause this problem. This is my new favorite article! I love it!!!!

    Reply
  • A

    AddisonMar 8, 2024 at 9:15 am

    PREACH!!!

    Reply