Opinion: Victims should be heard

Feature photo by: Brianna Spence- Junior Maia Sandoval poses with duct tape over her mouth to symbolize that victims of sexual assault often have fear of speaking out. 

By: Review Editors

Editors’ note: One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, according to loveisrespect.org. The following piece is an attempt by the Raider Review to shed more light on this issue and help educate the teens in our community.

Imagine sitting alone in the Rangeview commons with little to do but browse through media on your phone. Every once in a while, you glance over at the three girls chatting at the table beside you. Unsurprisingly, you overhear them talking about their boyfriends. But one thing you didn’t consider: chances are one of those girls is currently being physically, sexually, emotionally,  and/or verbally abused by her partner.

Although, it is recognized as an important issue globally, sexual assault is seldom talked about in the school environment or even society — with the exception of the recent #MeToo movement — allowing the bold few who are willing to share their experience to help those who may need to hear it most.

The following was submitted to The Raider Review in the hopes of shedding light on a serious issue. Below is a personal narrative of a sexual assault victim within our community. The student who submitted the narrative asked to stay anonymous to ensure her own social safety in the school environment. We agreed to publish this narrative, as not doing so would neglect our core value of advocating for the voiceless.

When entering a new relationship, most people can easily rely on their past experiences to help judge whether it is the right or wrong thing to do.

But when you’re an 8th grader who has never had the chance to “date,” there is no way of knowing how things

Pulled from Vox Online and originally sourced for the US Department of Justice, this chart compares the estimated amount of sexual assault victims in 2015 to major wars in US history (Zachary Crockett).

will go, how much you may get hurt, and the petty drama that may ensue by just saying yes to the question, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” 

This is what happened to me a little while ago. Without revealing explicit details, I will share my experience with some of the most important life lessons one in three girls can acquire from being with the wrong person.

 

My relationship with this individual was simple at the start; it was nothing I took very seriously. I always kept in mind that at some point it would end. It was on our first date that I should have realized what I might’ve been getting into.

As an insecure 8th grader, it came as an uncomfortable shock to have him try to pull me to sit on his lap. Due to my discomfort, I tried pulling away immediately. Of course that wasn’t enough as he grabbed me by the wrist and coaxed me into sitting on his lap again.  

The next year and a half passed similarly in motive, but gradually worsened in means. He always wanted to be called sexually suggestive names, wanted pictures, videos, intimacy, and eventually, sex.

It all began the same way: a gradual advance of him slowly sliding his hand towards my genitals, wanting to touch bare skin rather than clothing. As a result, I would say no and pull his hand away. He would then ask why and proceed to try again. After consistent begging and pushing for what he wanted, I would give up and let him get his way: this was my biggest mistake.

“Please, just this once. I won’t ask again.”

Statements and promises like this became predictable. But what can I say, I heard them so often, I convinced myself that at some point they would be more than just meaningless lies.

Looking back, these moments haunt me. But unfortunately, that wasn’t all I submitted to. Whether in a movie theater, in basement of my house, or in the backseat of my parents’ cars, he always wanted something from me.

There was no means to address his actions. Each time I tried, he would somehow manipulate the conversation and make his actions my fault; he always enjoyed being the victim.

I remember crying almost every night after being convinced that it was all my fault. It was an incredibly poisonous relationship. It had felt like I was chained within a bird cage, only most birds aren’t raped.

I tried to break up with him so many times. The first thing that would escape his mouth was always, “You know what will happen; I’m going to kill myself.”

Eventually, after so long of enduring, I ended it. It was the greatest decision I have ever made.

It wasn’t long after that he began lying about me, talking about me behind my back, and eventually sending people to threaten me and my current boyfriend.

A teen couple holds hands while walking down a sidewalk (google).

 

During this time, I’ve remained entirely passive, wanting to do nothing more than to move on. In having this published, I hope I can serve as an example for anyone who may experience a similar form of relationship abuse and/ or sexual assault. Please listen intently to the advice given below as it may closely relate to your own personal experiences and/or those of a loved one. Abuse and sexual assault are not topics to be taken lightly and should be given the attention they deserve.

 

At a young age, there is little awareness of the impact sexual assault may have on its victims. It is knowing that such a significant case has occurred recently in my high school that has encouraged me to remind students of some tips I think are very important:

  • Should you feel uncomfortable in performing anything with sexual intent, vocalize your concern and consider the position your partner is putting you in. If it happens again, I would highly recommend ending all contact. An individual who does not respect your feelings will ensure an uncomfortable and unsafe relationship.
  • Be aware of the people you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with people whose presence makes you comfortable and happy.
  • Know that you don’t need to change for anyone.
  • Respect yourself. Be careful of what you tell or show people.
  • Determine whether you are happy in a relationship with your significant other and whether that person treats you the way you deserve.
  • Don’t trust fruitless promises. A person will follow through if they care to. If you are continuously promised change without implementation, fulfillment of those promises will likely never come.

Know that you can voice your experience and that you are capable of overcoming. Below are links to videos relating to this topic and hotlines for support.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1−800−799−7233

If you need help determining whether you are involved in a dysfunctional relationship, this video — created by Leo Gura, an expert in working to achieve a profound and meaningful life — is helpful and applies to almost everyone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY9JqrmAI4Q&index=2&list=PLsF6HTtnrEbsuU3t6S6eKlQX1SFKX9RpU

All of the statistics published in the article can be found below:

http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/

 

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