Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Most Powerful Letter from a Victim of Rape

Below is a link to a most powerful letter, that every college student (and soon-to-be student) should read.

In a law class I used to teach, I would ask my students: "Can you consent to be hit in the face if you are drunk?" "If you hit someone in the face, and you are drunk, does that excuse your conduct?" "If you are drunk, do you deserve to be hit in the face?" The answers are predictable.

Then, I would inquire: "If you are drunk, does that excuse sexual assault by you? If you are drunk, can you consent to sexual assault? If you are drunk, do you deserve to be sexual assaulted?"

I would then ask my students to read articles on "date rape" and "the role of alcohol in rape" - and then ask them to write essays on the subject. Their essays were enlightening, and troubling. Far too often students have been the victim of rape, or a witness to its precursors - without interceding. A significant number of the female students (most of whom were sophomores) had already been the victim or rape or attempted rape. A few female students (and one male student) struggled with their emotions and feelings, as victims; fortunately I was able to connect them with professional counselors.

The lessons to be learned? Lives can be destroyed. Always have a "designated friend" if you go out (or stay in) and drink. Always, always, intercede when you see someone who is attempted to be taken advantage of by someone else, especially when alcohol has been consumed.

Most important, understand what consent is, and what is not consent. Get your friends to understand, as well.

And change the culture, by attending and participating in rape prevention and awareness events on campus. By speaking out, and by encouraging others to do so as well.

Just one act on your part - to raise awareness, to change the culture, or to prevent the preventable - can save years of misery for another person.

So stop for a minute or two. Read the letter from a victim (see the link below). Then identify a specific action step you can take to assist others, to reduce the chances of rape on campus. Schedule this action for accomplishment on your personal calendar. And, most importantly, just do it.


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