A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Just the Tip: Sexual Assault

“She was asking for it.”

This is a phrase we hear all too often when the topic of sexual assault comes up. In America we live in a male-dominated, hypermasculine culture where we try to protect men more than women.

Sexual assault is an umbrella term used by most to include unwanted sexual contact, rape, sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

Rape is unwanted sexual contact and/or intercourse. This includes vaginal, anal and oral sex, as well as foreplay like fingering.

Most rape and sexual assault cases are never reported. The reasons for lack of reporting vary, but the reason heard most is the victim thought nothing could or would be done.

Speaking up is important if someone is giving you unwanted contact and attention. It’s a tough hurdle to cross, but I urge you to speak up. The weight of being a victim of a sex-related crime is immense. I know personally how it feels and how difficult it can be.

You could be struggling with thoughts like, “I deserved this” or “I can’t let anyone know about this because…,” but here is the truth: you did not deserve this. Nobody ever deserves to be forced into having unwanted sex and nobody should ever make you feel unsafe in your own body.

If fear is what’s keeping you quiet, start small by telling your pet. The act of getting your story out for the first time can be less daunting if a human can’t hear. I have a pet guinea pig, Necco, and I told him what happened knowing full well he didn’t understand and couldn’t physically help me. That experience humanized the assault and helped me realize that the situation was real.  The text messages and voicemails living in my phone are also real. It gave me the strength to know that I could talk aloud about what happened.

You can talk to a friend, parent, relative, teacher or a person who is completely removed from your life. The more you speak about assault, the less power your perpetrator has over you. It also allows for more of an opportunity to receive help. Confiding in someone else can be intimidating. Laying your story and emotions for someone else to hear isn’t easy.

The fear of being judged could prevent you from talking to someone, but if someone is going to judge you for telling your story, that person does not deserve a place in your life. Victim blaming is an all too real thing and is disgusting. There is no excuse for assault ever. Period. Male or female, you are never asking for someone to sexually assault you. It does not matter how you carry yourself, what you wear, or your previous relationship with a person, they have no right to force themselves on you.

Seeing a doctor post-assault is a smart choice because her first priority is your physical and mental health. She can test you for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and for women, possible pregnancy. She can connect you with a therapist to help with the mental trauma that comes from any type of assault, but especially rape.

Santa Rosa Junior College provides students and faculty with a program to report any sexual assault or harassment. Title 9 can help you launch an investigation and help with no contact orders if your perpetrator is affiliated with the college. These are great assets and I highly recommend speaking with them when you’re ready.

Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that will never fully go away, but it can and will get better.

Please speak up. This isn’t your fault.


National Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-888-999-5545 for English or 1-888-568-8332 for Spanish

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