Sexual Assault Must Be Taken Seriously

Rebekah Froehlich

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Unfortunately, this world has come to the point where the phrase, “sexual assault” is used in everyday conversation. Nearly every time you log onto Twitter a new allegation is present, and people are not slow or kind with their opinions. Raging fires are lit inside people, not just toward the opinion of changing, but often defending the accused. Judgements are made and horrible things are said about both the offender and the victim. A career can be ended due to a false statement, or on the other side, a slimy scumbag can get of scot free due to overwhelming love and support from the general public. Not only is the amount of these allegations disgusting but people’s willingness to choose sides so quickly. There is often no room to defend oneself or even confirm. From the minute the first headline goes out, it’s in the hands of the public, the beastly, ghastly public.

 

It is shocking how quickly people are willing to pass judgement on one another. When you’re young it may seem like a bit of a myth but as you grow the ugly beast rears its head. People are cruel and unforgiving. If they don’t believe you, you will be mocked and ridiculed and thrown down before you can even get another word in. To highlight this point is the recent story of Grace. That is an alias, as she does not want to be recognized outright, but simply share her experiences, which are detailed in an exclusive with Babe. In extreme summary, Grace, 22, went to an after party and met Aziz Ansari, 34. The two hit it off, exchanged numbers and soon committed to a date. She described him as “eager for them to leave (the restaurant).” In his apartment he instructed her, both orally and with gestures, to perform sexual acts. She exhibited extreme apprehension and told him she wanted to slow down, which he did, but not for long. She described herself as feeling “pressured and uncomfortable.” She left in tears.

 

After hearing this story, a normal reaction would be shock and even sadness. Personally, reading her words made me feel physically ill. Naturally, it would be safe to assume that the comment section shared this same pain, but that would be incorrect. People tore this woman apart, saying she should have “just left.” One comment (from a woman)  reads:

“The thing that is horrible about this is it’s all one persons point of view. And she was giving MAJOR mixed signals the whole time. If you go home with a guy, into his apartment, and allow him to kiss you/force fingers in your mouth and perform oral on you… ummmm of course he’s gonna assume you’re ready to go! I don’t feel sorry for this girl at all, reading the narrative she had multiple opportunities to stop/say no/leave.”

While this is only one comment on a very popular article, it provides the general sum of what most of them were saying, that she was in the wrong and was perfectly capable of leaving. First, just because someone allows you to do one thing to them, does not automatically mean the next step is okay. From the body language she describes, she was clearly uncomfortable with the actions he was taking let alone the ones not taken. Allowing someone to kiss you is not the same as consenting to sex. A man is not entitled to anything from a woman, and vice versa. A relationship is about communication and consent. She may not have said no explicitly, but she did not say yes either. Silence is not consent. Second, though there may have been opportunities to leave, she may have felt uncomfortable leaving. Awkward situations are often difficult to diffuse and especially when you are in shock it is difficult to think clearly. Also, it is not up to random people on the internet to decide what this woman should have done. She shared her story to help others not just to stay away from this one man but men like him, and to let women who have been in similar situations know that they are not alone. She did not include her name, so no one can say she was seeking attention, and she even shared her difficulty accepting that she was not in the wrong. Young women, teenagers even, who read this and have gone through the same thing may seek help due to this brave woman. Despite those who criticize her, she, and others who share their stories, are helping people. Even if in some opinion she was not “sexually assaulted,” she is still helping women validate their experiences as wrong which is useful.

 

These incidents are becoming so common that the world is being hardened to them. It is no longer a shocking topic when an actor is accused of sexual assault. The question is no longer “why?” but “how legitimate is the story?” There may be false allegations, but they often turn out to be true. Even so people do not take them seriously. They’re just seen as more drama and another victim to criticize and assess. This is horrendous and says much about the lack of empathy in this world. It scares off women who are in need of help from sharing their stories because they fear they will be judged. Let’s not make other people feel wrong for sharing their truth, but help them work through it. Think if it was your daughter, or friend, or even yourself. If you were taken advantage of, how would you like being ridiculed for your choices and supposed incompetence? Oh, if the tables were turned.

 

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