Every two-and-a-half minutes, someone, somewhere, is raped, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. College-aged students are four times as likely to be sexually assaulted as any other age group, with about 44 percent of rape victims being under 18-years-old, and 80 percent under 30. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six American women and one in 33 men are victims of attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes. In an effort to educate and empower people, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, has organized RAINN Day, an event held Sept. 27, for high school and college campuses. By providing statistics, as well as information about the National Sexual Assault Hotline, students can protect themselves.I will be one of the students participating in RAINN Day in the Union Sept. 27 because, obviously, I think sexual abuse is immoral. But it goes deeper than that, because someone I care about has been raped, and I would never wish her experience on anyone.
“It’s fascinating how easily you can be victimized,” my friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me. “I was a wealthy, educated, vivacious teenager. I was stubborn, didn’t take orders or crap from anyone and a little rebellious. But, like most people, I was also very naive.”
After initially being drawn to a boy in high school, my friend found herself in a scary situation. While early dates with this boy were fun, in time he “kept turning more rough and violent,” she said.
“As I saw this, I started trying to back out of the situation. He eventually threatened me with a gun, telling me he didn’t care how rich and powerful my father was, he would kill him if I said anything. That immediately stripped me of any control I thought I had… he threatened the most important and powerful figure in my life. And when he said it, I believed it,” she said.
One night, this boy tried to rape my friend. While he did not have time to penetrate her, he did rough her up a bit, and she was just barely saved by a friend.
“After I went through that, my world seemed to be turned upside down. [Before that,] I was really close to and communicative with my parents,” she said. “But, it was something I could not bear to tell them because I was terrified and ashamed. They couldn’t figure out what had changed me so dramatically, and thought that I was just ‘being a teenager.’ It ruins your self-image and your trust in others.”
Introduced to RAINN through a Tori Amos benefit CD, my friend found solace.
“I felt like I could at least make a difference with other girls and help other victims of sexual assault. I stopped feeling so alone through reading about what other people had been through,” she said. RAINN’s hotline, 800-656-HOPE, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many rape victims can suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, withdraw from society and sink into depression. My friend was not alone in her inability to open up to her parents. But with the National Sexual Assault Hotline, victims can talk about their experiences through the protection of anonymity.
RAINN’s goals are to promote awareness, prevent sexual assault, help victims and bring rapists to justice. Hopefully, through events like RAINN Day, people will be better protected. If nothing else, those who are victimized can have an outlet. You never know who can be assaulted. My sister and her friends are only a few weeks into their freshman year of college, and one of them has already been raped. Every two-and-a-half minutes.