Justice has long been a topic society uses to measure when an issue has been addressed. It drives the world’s conflicts, resolutions, mistakes, successes, and people will often question the laws, rules, and feelings they’re subjected to with the question: is this just?
To remove justice from the equation is to remove a decisive principle from the United States’
societal train of thought. So, justice is crucial.
So when it comes to intense, uncomfortable, emotion-inducing topics like sexual assault, it’s no surprise that justice and retribution typically become the cornerstone of discussion.
“Victims need justice.” “Victims deserve justice.”
But, although these types of statements are absolutely true, they are proclamations we say to
make the grave and prevalent issue of sexual assault easier to tackle. We attempt to mitigate the issue through justice, over and over again, as opposed to addressing the issue at its core and preventing the crime in the first place.
But rape and harassment are problems across our society – 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime and 1 in 4 women will be raped during their college career (NSVRC), and the core of the issue cannot be changed through justice alone. Stopping the movement here is unacceptable given the technology—and awareness which comes with it—that we have in the United States.
Something has to change
Obviously, the issue at hand is not as straightforward as we would like it to be. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored, simplified, or swept under the rug the way sexual assault has been in the past. People all over the U.S.—and the globe—have begun a movement: of speaking out and calling for change, being active in this struggle against the perpetrators of sexual assault and violence.
Let’s keep the momentum going
Rape, unconsented contact, aggression, and drugging all require the active response of those in the community who can, and will, make a difference. We, as citizens of the world, can continue to work on stopping sexual assault. So how could any one person make a difference?
The best way to help survivors is to keep them from becoming survivors. The way society often allows the privileged to escape their crimes must be stopped, and the first step in the right direction is to limit the potential for sexual crimes to occur at all. Given the right technology and awareness, we all can play a role in breaking down stigma and stopping sexual violence before it happens.
Another aspect of prevention is education. Education creates a conversation on how to properly, clearly communicate consent as well as help many gain an awareness for the issue at hand.
The lack of widespread, impactful education thus far is not just an issue of opinion or perspective. In 2015, Tara E. Sutton and Leslie Gordon Simons published a journal article that discussed their research in the face of the “inadequacies of many universities … effectively [addressing] this problem” (p. 2827). They worked with over 600 college students, looking at relationships, past experience, hook-up culture, and upbringing to try and find some sort of relevant pattern in the hopes of colleges “[drawing] upon these findings to inform the development of sexual assault prevention efforts, including programs that address alcohol awareness” (p. 2838). Education can stop perpetrators, increase awareness, and prevent harm.
Being an active bystander
In shifting the solution to sexual assault from justice to prevention, we all have a role to play.
Be the change in your community, in spreading awareness, supporting survivors, and being an active bystander in situations where someone needs help. Prevention is something we can all work towards together, as a community.
Ulzi is on a mission to promote awareness, prevention, healing, and safety through the power of community, and we want to help you in the fight against sexual assault.
Have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Please email our Editor in Chief, Hannah, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may choose to remain anonymous, and we won’t publish your story without your permission. Thank you for sharing your story; you are crucial in our community’s effort to ending sexual assault.