Cover Your Tracks

September 20, 2015

By: Sami Ullah

Shedding Light on Sexual Abuse

Content Warning: The article and associated and linked videos discusses potentially emotionally distressing content around sexual assault.


Lady Gaga’s new music video, “Til it Happens to You”, has released with international acclaim, for its powerful lyrics and emotional video. If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to watch it.

The video is a part of a film, “The Hunting Ground”, a documentary about survivors of sexual assault questioning why their perpetrators were not being punished. The trailer for the film depicts snippets from interviews with sexual assault survivors who describe the difficulties they faced in getting justice. The film focuses on American college campuses and highlights the prevalence of sexual assault on campus – with one survivor stating that both she and a friend were sexually assaulted before they had even started classes.

 

The problem of sexual assault and violence against women and girls is one that is widespread. The problem is not just limited to America. All over the world, women and girls face sexual assault on a daily basis, and for the majority of them, it seems like no-one wants to know. The documentary suggests that colleges want to quieten reports of sexual assault and rape in order to save face.

 

There are too many things wrong with that concept to fit into one article.

 

As a male, I would like to believe that attitudes to sexual assault are changing, more and more support is available, and getting justice would be getting easier. However it seems I have likened reality too much to my ideal world. The reality is that the stories we hear on the news, in films and in music videos like Lady Gaga’s; are just scratching the surface when it comes to the constant danger some women and girls face daily.

The solution seems simple: education. Too many instances have occurred where women are told to adjust their lives to avoid or prevent sexual assault. I am staggered, and indeed angered, at the fact that there are actual people out there who continue to give this advice. In the Hunting Ground documentary a woman describes how she was told not to wear short skirts.

It disgusts me that survivors are made to feel as if sexual assault is their fault; this is degrading to women. What we should be doing is making sure young men specifically, and young people in general, are educated. They need to understand the difference between right and wrong and know that one gender is not superior in a way that means one can assault another.

For some strange reason, the idea that survivors are at fault for assault that happens to them continues and this idea has gone on for far too long. It’s time those who are actual responsible are truly held accountable for their actions. It’s time we make sure the next generations doesn’t grow up with the same, flawed ideology that is currently being stated.

If you have been affected by sexual assault, or any kind of violent behaviour, know that you are not to blame and you are not alone.

There is help and support available:

Rape Crisis

Women’s Aid

This is Abuse

Victim Support

NHS Choices

Citizens Advice

You can also contact the police

 


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