Speak out against sexual assault

APRIL AWARENESS — Hope’s campus is planning events geared toward promoting awareness and activism related to preventing sexual assault and interpersonal violence. Get involved by attending one of the many events still on the calendar. (Hope College)


Your voice has power. This is the short yet powerful message that is being spread around Hope College’s campus this April for Sexual Assault Awareness month. As hard as it is to hear the statistics, the numbers are clear: sexual assault is a common experience and often goes unreported. It’s important to know the facts. The following numbers are from nsvrc.com (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Warning: Some of these statistics may be triggering for those who have experienced sexual assault.

One in five women have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lives. These women have a 50-95%  chance of developing post- traumatic stress disorder after  being raped. One in two have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. 41% report experiencing physically aggressive street harassment, and one in three experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.

Although women are more often victims of sexual assault, men are also targeted. One in six boys are sexually abused before age sixteen and only 26.2 percent of men who experienced childhood sexual abuse disclosed this information at the time of the abuse. 18 percent of men reported experiencing  verbal street harassment, and one in 67 men in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape. One in five men have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime.

These numbers are staggering and may be shocking to some. Unfortunately, 67.5 precent of instances of rape are estimated to go unreported, and less than five percent of completed or attempted rapes against college women were reported to law enforcement in this past year. Sexual violence is perpetuated by silence. The message of this  month is to speak out.

Hope’s STEP program (Students Teaching and Empowering Peers) is sponsoring many events this April to aid victims and to spread awareness. There have already been some great events on campus, but don’t worry if you haven’t had the opportunity to participate. Moving forward, keep these events in mind while planning your week. On Saturday, the men’s lacrosse team will be playing a game committed to the “It’s On Us” campaign at 4 p.m. at Hope. They will be playing against  Adrian. Wear your “It’s On Us” shirts to the game, or purchase one there for $5!

On Wednesday, April 25, wear denim all day for #denimday. There will be a prayer led in the chapel for sexual assault recovery and victims. On Friday, April 27, look for the STEP booth at Spring Fling for “Affirmative Consent Pies.” Finally, on Tuesday, May 1, you are encouraged to attend the Embrace Your Voice Panel from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Herrick District Library. This event is partnering with the Center for Women in Transition.

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