Surviving the Silent Pain

Feature illustration by wonderlane

I think most people would be surprised to know that every two minutes in the United States someone is sexually assaulted. One out of 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and one in seven women are raped by their husband. College women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted. Sadly, only about 16% of rapes are reported to the police.

My question to you is: How can we change this? I once read an article in a newspaper stating that minorities such as Asians and Latinas had a higher risk of being sexually assaulted due to how they are portrayed in the media and even in pornography. I’m not entirely sure if that is true or if that has any effect on how someone thinks, but I did have a friend who was raped by a friend who assumed she was promiscuous because she was Latina. On the other hand, this may be a lame excuse to commit a violent act on someone.

Statistics show that a Caucasian woman is more likely to report being assaulted, and a Latina is less likely. Language barriers have a huge effect on why a Latina will not speak up. Also legal issues factor in, such as immigration status. Also the shame factor comes in; Hispanic families seem to be harder on females in keeping a “pureness” about them. But thanks to the Internet and “safe lines,” if you are a victim of sexual assault, you can easily chat with someone on your computer or make a phone call and reach out for help. 1-800-799-SAFE has English and Spanish counselors ready to talk to you 7 days a week 24 hours a day. They can set you up with a place to get a free examination, and find you a free Spanish support group if that’s what you need. Your status in this country does not matter, and your information is 100% confidential. If you’re just looking for information and resources you can call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). They will talk to you about the criminal justice system and places in your area to go and talk to someone if a one-on-one counseling session is what you need. These calls are free.
Did you know that 73% of men who have sexually assaulted a woman think that they did nothing wrong? Anytime you say no and are forced into doing something you do not want to do, know you are being victimized and you need to speak up as soon as possible. Talk to a friend, a counselor, a nurse or doctor or call a hotline. However you reach out, just make sure you do.

If you are ever sexually assaulted, the worst thing you can do is not go to the police as soon as possible. Keep the clothes you are wearing, and do not take a bath or shower. This will help when you are examined. If you fear getting pregnant or STD’s, the sooner you go to the hospital the sooner you can get help and even prevent certain things. It’s common and natural to feel embarrassed or ashamed, but professionals have dealt with these situations and will assure you that anything that has happened to you is not your fault.
You can’t live your life in a shell, but you need to try to prevent assaults when you’re in vulnerable situations, such as parties, bars, and even first dates! Sadly, victims are assaulted by friends and even family members. Being hurt doesn’t just happen to a certain race of people or someone with specific sexual orientation. Gay, straight, young, old, anyone can get hurt. Here are some smart tips to keep in mind to keep you a little safer.

  • If you know you are going out and drinking, be sure to have one or a group of people with you that you can trust. You should never get so intoxicated that you do not know what’s going on around you. But it happens. Make sure there is someone always sober enough with you to make smart decisions.
  • Never go on a date with someone you never met before without letting someone know where you are going and who you are going with. It can be as simple as chatting with a girl or boy friend about your plans for the night. It can save your life.
  • Never go to a party and get so intoxicated that you pass out. Yes, I know this too happens, but if you can avoid this situation, please do.
  • Never leave your drink unattended at a bar or party! That new guy may look like a catch while he’s chatting you up, but you never know someone’s true intentions until you get to know them in a sober state of mind. Avoid having anything dropped in your drink, and if you do leave it unattended. Buy a new one!

Don’t keep your pain silent. Speak up. The sooner you talk to someone, the sooner you get help, the sooner you can start to heal.

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