Sexual assault advice sends wrong message


The Appalachian Online

Lauren Merrill

When watching one of my favorite shows, a touchy topic came up.

A college student had reported that she was raped while under the influence at a party. When the police would not take action, she tried what she could do to get help. The one thing that stuck with me from this was the advice that the girl was given.

Wear a ring on your finger, never go out without one or two guys with you, say you have a boyfriend.

These were all pieces of advice the girl was given so she could possibly avoid getting raped in the future.

Not only is the girl living in constant fear that her attackers are still out there and is constantly afraid of getting raped again, but her best bet to avoid future sexual assault is to claim she is another man’s property in order to protect herself.

A similar situation is written in a poem called “An Untitled Poem.” This poem is about a girl and her encounters with sexual assault.

There are certain segments I want to focus on from the poem.

“I was told that harassment couldn’t be as bad as us women make it out to be/ That I should watch what I wear/ That I should be louder/ But not too loud, a lady must be polite/ That I should always ask for help/ That I should stay in at night, because it isn’t safe/ You can’t get harassed in broad daylight/ That I should always travel with no less than two boys with me/ You need to be protected.”

As a female college student, this advice concerns me.

In a way, this advice is blaming women for what they have had to endure. They didn’t take the proper precautions or they didn’t wear the right clothes.

This advice, to me, makes it sound like it is the woman’s fault. But if it is rape, how could it be the victim’s fault?

No one is immune to the possibility of being sexually assaulted. Keeping this in mind, the advice given to the two women is not fair advice for them or for anyone.

Being sexually assaulted is never the victim’s fault. What you were wearing, what you were doing, how many guys or girls you had with you, that should not matter.

No one has the right to touch you without your consent no matter what the circumstances are.

You shouldn’t have to claim yourself as another person’s property in order to protect yourself either. You are your own person and do not belong to anyone else.

The most important advice anyone can be given is to know how to defend themselves. Take a self-defense class to be taught how to take down an attacker, carry pepper spray with you and learn tips and tricks on what you can use to fight back.

Merrill, a sophomore journalism major from Chapel Hill, is an opinion writer.