Sexual Assault


Madison Bruce

This is a photo of the home web page from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network or RAINN. This website has a number of different and useful pages for information about sexual assault.

Over the past few months sexual assault has been a recurring theme in the news and the media. Stories about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K, Matt Lauer, and many more powerful influencers being accused of sexual assault are in the news everyday, and it’s hard to ignore. The anxiety of a possible assault clouds the brains of young women during everyday tasks. Sexual assault never stops affecting people’s lives, whether they are taking the bus home, walking to the store, or going to school. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network or RAINN, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, and every eight minutes that American is a child. For a teenage student, the odds are against them, females 16-19 years old are four times more likely than the rest of the population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexaul assault. People shouldn’t have to live in fear of becoming a victim of sexual assault and it shouldn’t need to be on the news everyday in headlines like Hip-Hop Mogul Russell Simmons Steps Down After 2nd Sexual Assault Accusation, and Sen. Al Franken Accused Of Sexual Assault By LA Model And Radio Host from Sexual assault should be unheard of, something that no one talks about because it should never happen.

The Washington State Department of Commerce defines sexual assault as a wide range of non consensual sexual acts including; child sexual abuse, rape, attempted rape, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, fondling, and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment usually manifests itself as a joke or seemingly meaningless and sexually suggestive comment, but can escalate quickly if not immediately put to an end. It’s important to stop sexual harassment before it intensifies into a dangerous situation.

Most students interviewed about sexual assault and how it affects Shorecrest often gave the same or very similar responses, “It doesn’t happen here a lot.” and “I hope it doesn’t happen here.”  Sexual assault has become peripheral to people because it is not a common occurrence in the Shoreline area, however this doesn’t mean that its not still going on. One anonymous Shorecrest student said, “I feel like i’ve never really heard people talk about it in a serious manner… We could have more security involvement, they usually don’t act on things, the security will say ‘go sit at a different table’ and it’s kind of degrading for the victims.” All interviewed students agree that sexual assault is bad and should be stopped right away.

People need to be taught how to stay safe from sexual predators, but they also need to be taught how not to become a sexual predator. Students should be taught how to not be a sexual predator the same way they are taught not to be bullies. From preschool until high school people are taught to respect boundaries and to “keep your hands to yourself”. These same principles taught in anti-bullying campaigns like Connect For Respect, and the Born This Way Foundation, should be applied to anti-sexual assault lessons. Sex offenders often have similar attributes to a first grader with disciplinary issues, according to The Center of Hope and Safety in the article In the Mind of the Sexual Offender these attributes are: excuse making, blaming, lying, success fantasies, assuming, believing to be above the rules, making fools of others, minimizing, power play, drama and excitement, ownership, self-glorification, and playing the victim. An anonymous student said, “There are no excuses for assault, they (predators) should go to jail where they belong.” People need to be taught at a young age about how to respect someone’s boundaries and listen to someone who says “no”. “No means no” is something often repeated over and over again, but over the years it can lose its meaning. However, the same concept should continue to be reinforced. Many sexual assaults could have be avoided if the predator listened to the word “no.”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or has inflicted an assault, it’s vital to report it and find help from someone you trust. Don’t be a bystander. Give support to friends that need it. When someone is assaulted it can feel like the world is crashing down and sometimes people tend to blame themselves, it’s important to make sure they know they aren’t alone. Traits that a sexual assault victim may have are flinching from a physical contact, aggression, depression, and withdrawing from social contact. Although, it should not be assumed that anyone who exhibits these traits is an assault victim. Encourage survivors to reach out and report the crime by reporting an assault and calling 911 in the case of an emergency, contacting a local police station, or visiting a medical center. If you have been sexually assaulted, you can call the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center 24-Hour Resource Line at 888.99.VOICE (888.998.6423), the National Sexual Assault hotline Call 1-800-656-4673, or call 800.656.HOPE (4673).