321,796 Reasons Not to Make Rape Jokes
By Anna Howard
April 7, 2017
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Yet somehow, only about 6 out of 1,000 rapists end up in prison. As April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is important to know about everyday dangers we face: the facts, the fiction, and anything else that will make you wonder why no one is talking about it.
Let’s do the math. If an American is assaulted every 98 seconds, that means there are 321,796 sexual assaults every year in the U.S. alone. Even more disturbing is knowing that every eight minutes, one of these victims is a child. We can make an overly generous assumption that half of these cases are from repeat offenders, and that these offenders sexually assaulted someone three times. This will take away a third of assaulters, still leaving us with a staggering 214,531 people who have committed a violent sexual crime. If only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators are prosecuted, meaning 178,776 of these people are walking free.
You may be thinking it’s not a big deal. It’s just a relationship gone wrong. One bad night!
Yeah, not so much.
Survivors of completed and attempted rape experience long-term effects. These include mood disorders like Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, dissociation, and flashbacks. They also experience physical effects such as eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, STDs, substance abuse, and sleep disorders. 100% of survivors suffer from at least one of these effects after the abuse takes place.
But they deserve it, right? They must have been doing something to invite the attack.
Again, that is simply not the case.
From an ethical standpoint, one must understand that there is no way to invite rape. It is impossible. The very definition of rape and sexual assault is performing a sexual act without someone’s consent. If this isn’t enough, there are logistical arguments as well.
Of the survivors attacked, at the time:
- 48% were sleeping or performing another activity at home.
- 29% were travelling to and from work or school, or travelling to run errands.
- 12% were working.
- 7% were attending school.
- 5% were doing an unknown or other activity.
You should also know that none of these statistics include the 1.5 million people in the U.S. that have been sexually exploited in the Human Trafficking business.
You get it, but do I digress? I do not. Because you can help.
Every time someone makes a joke about sexual assault, he or she normalizes the act. Turning a topic as grave as this into humor takes away any sense of validation from survivors that may be in the room, creates a protective cultural bubble around rapists, and can send survivors into a dangerous state of mind by speaking so lightly about their traumatic experience. Cutting the occasional, distasteful joke out of your conversation can help provide a safe environment for survivors, and, really, just isn’t that difficult.
You can also support survivors by acknowledging that being sexually assaulted was not their fault. If it was, it would just be called sex. End of story.
Be educated, and be kind! Recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, have open conversations with your friends, and treat people with respect.