“#4436: I was taken advantage of this weekend and it has affected so much more than I ever could have imagined.”
“#4975: I was raped by a kid who I saw at church the next day. Does he think that counts as repentance?”
“#3231: I am a rape victim … I wish I knew other survivors, I can’t do this alone anymore.”
BC can feel like a bubble sometimes. This is a beautiful place, and at times we can trick ourselves into thinking that bad things just don’t happen here. But at times, they do—and amid those who wax poetic about their crushes and confess their deepest secrets, those who have been sexually assaulted share their nightmares. These are our classmates; this happened to them on campus, a place that should be safe.
Does this scare you?
It’s hard to think about, but we live in a world where rape culture is highly prevalent. A teenage girl in a small town in Ohio is raped by high school football players, then harassed for “ruining the season”. Politicians twist the definition of rape to protect the rights of unborn babies. T-shirts that read “Keep Calm and Rape Me” sell like hotcakes on amazon.com. A woman’s clothing or behavior is blamed for her assault, rather than the man who choose to violate her.
There is a dangerous mindset that exists about sexual assault, but it can be changed. Education is a key step here, and it starts with the values of respect for all people and their right to privacy, regardless of the situation. It is crucial that people be educated about the existence of rape culture to prevent it from happening, to empower victims who may be afraid to speak out and to inform people of what they can do to help.
This week asks us to care about an issue that affects everyone. Rape is not just a women’s problem. Everyone can help support victims or be an active bystander, male or female. C.A.R.E. Week asks us to support, educate, empower. We are all capable of this—even words like “I believe you” or “that’s not funny” can be a small step towards action.
I urge everyone to attend this week’s events and use them as a space to reflect on the importance of caring. Care for the women in your life—sisters, friends, significant others. Care for the strangers, the people who are afraid to speak out, the people whose voices aren’t heard. If we all strive to support, educate and empower, we can lend a voice to the voiceless and work towards eradicating sexual violence.
C.A.R.E. (Concerned About Rape Education) Week events will be taking place all this week. Click here for a detailed calendar of events.