The Gatepost Editorial Staff
[Editor’s Note: This editorial focuses on sensitive topics such as rape and sexual assault]
With this April marking the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is crucial we address the importance of believing survivors of sexual assault and rape.
While conversations concerning sexual assault and rape have become more prevalent, and education has increased in classrooms and on social media, there are still people who choose not to believe survivors and instead invalidate their feelings and stories when they need support more than anything.
In recent weeks, a group of six individuals made a TikTok video claiming April 24 would be “National Rape Day” and it would be legal to rape people on this day.
It is important to note that no such day exists.
Social media influencers on the platform have spoken out against the message of the video.
Well-known TikToker Beer Bong John said, “Rape is not something you joke about. ... In a sense, you are taking someone’s life. You are taking away someone’s trust, and they may never get it back.”
He added even if the video was meant to be a “sick joke” – and he hoped it was – the owners of the account that published it do not understand the trauma they have forced many survivors to relive.
Despite social media influencers speaking out against the video and those who believe it is a joke, there are people who may take the video as an invitation to sexually assault others.
It is important to acknowledge and believe survivors of sexual assault.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment are traumatic experiences. One out of every six women are survivors of sexual assault and one out of every 10 rape survivors are male, according to the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Sexual assault is not something people make up in their minds. It is a real, life-altering, and traumatic experience for nearly 433,648 Americans aged 12 and up a year, according to RAINN.
As allies, we need to be aware of and sensitive to the reality of survivors’ situations.
The unfortunate truth is that nearly one in every five survivors of sexual assault do not report their experiences out of fear of not being believed, according to Start By Believing.
We must end the stigma that sexual assault survivors may be lying because chances are – they aren’t.
We must hold ourselves, and others, accountable for their actions.
It is never a survivor’s fault if they are sexually assaulted.
To the survivors who have been strong enough to talk about their sexual assault – we commend you for your bravery and strength.
To the survivors who are unsure if they should come forward – that is OK. But there are resources and people who will believe you and will stand by you. It is OK to be afraid, but know that you are not alone in your struggles and help is available when – and if – you decide the time is right.
You are still brave and strong.
As human beings, we have a responsibility to not only protect ourselves, but to protect the people around us who may not be able to protect themselves.
If someone comes forward to you about their sexual assault – believe them.
If you feel someone is clearly taking advantage of a person – protect them.
And most importantly, if someone says no – listen to them.
If you, or someone you know, is a survivor of sexual assault, there are conZdential and non-confidential resources both locally and nationally prepared to talk to you.
You are never alone.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Voices Against Violence (Framingham): 508-626-8686 (24-hour hotline).
Framingham State Counseling Center: 508-626-4640
Framingham State Health Center: 508-626-4900
Campus Ministry: 508-626-4610
Kim Dexter, executive director of equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator: email@example.com
Framingham State University Police Department: 508-626-4911
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