**Warning: The content of this article deals with rape, and may be a trigger for those who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced sexual assault. Please continue with caution, and always be aware that treatment is available.**
There has been a lot of backlash for the media’s sympathy towards the convicted Steubenville rapists. So many news agencies are lamenting the rapists loss of time, their college choices, their football hopes. They aren’t the victim here. There are many things to be sad for during this time: the victim, the families, a society that views a loss of a football career more damaging than a rape/ assault, and humiliation of another person. My deepest sympathies are for those coping from such an assault on their person, and to their loved ones as well. Perhaps one of the saddest things to see is the complete lack of education of what constitutes rape. East state defines rape a little differently, which is why the case could move forward in Ohio with the assault of finger penetration. Here’s a fairly comprehensive definition from dictionary.com:
What doesn’t change is the act, and the result. What needs to change is the education. It is ignorant to think that every person, even those who know rape is wrong, can fully understand what it is without proper education on the matter. It is such a taboo topic, that many fear to address the specifics. It is possible, that some people don’t realize there is such a thing as date rape, or that pressuring constitutes rape, simply because in their mind, rape is the “stranger in the park” scenario.
Some things that must be addressed about rape are as follows:
Rape can be done by anyone; male, female, stranger, friend, relationship, or family. It is any sexual act that is not consensual/wanted. It can be any object or body part. It can be one person, or many. If it isn’t a yes, then it is a no. If they can’t say yes, then it is a no. If their judgment is impaired, then you can’t assume it is a yes. If they are not at an age that is considered to be legally able to make informed decisions for themselves, and understand the implications of their actions, then it is a no. It does not always include beatings or murder. It does not matter what they were wearing, what they were doing, what their job is, or what you think they wanted or deserved. Rape is rarely a stranger attacking someone in the night. Too often it is those who were trusted and it is a violent, and inexcusable incident.
There is help. If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, please seek help. Always contact 911 in an emergency situation, visit your local ER, or contact a crisis emergency hotline such as National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE(4673). Ask for a counselor or advocate to learn your rights. Get tested, and follow up with care. Mental health treatment can help you through this time, and decrease the risk of suicide, PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance use, etc.
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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