Statically Speaking…

The statistic is startling– a only few men commit 90% of sexual assaults.

On the surface, this is good news. If all the emotional, physical, and social damage that is done to a person who has gone through sexual assault can be prevented by stopping only a handful of the people, this harrowing problem can be fixed, or at least mended, easily and quickly.

The problem lies in the discussion about sexual assault and the punishments for those who commit it.

There is plenty of social stigma surrounding sexual assault. A victim is often met with condemning questions from even people close to them— ‘what were you wearing,’ ‘were you drunk,’ and/or ‘are you sure it was actually sexual assault,’— as if any of these factors even begin to justify the action of the perpetrator. In a society that seeks to ‘rationalize’ instead of support, an environment in which a victim would feel comfortable sharing their story with an authority figure is not as common as it ought to be, despite best efforts on the parts of universities and officers across the nation. Because many victims do not seek to relive the experience through testimony or receive attention, many choose not to press charges, letting the perpetrator get away with it, and continue to harm others.

As far as the punishments for sexual assault go on college campuses, there has to be a better way of doing things. The cases are often seen as ‘her word against mine,’ even as officials move to aid the victim by believing their case. Because it is traumatic to prove and difficult to face a peer who has committed such crimes against them, the cases are emotionally draining on the victim. Similarly, the punishments seem light for the perpetrators. Expulsions should be enforced and criminal charges should be filed in many cases where there is not a move in that direction.