Erin Antoch | Staff Writer

In the Azusa Pacific environment, it’s likely that you’ve heard the statistics about sexual assault and seen student activism on campus. You’ve taken the mandatory educational surveys and listened to (most of) the informative sermons in chapel. Maybe you’ve talked about it in class discussions, seen it in movies and looked on wide-eyed as particularly gruesome cases made headlines. So yeah, you get it; “yes means yes” and “no means no” and if alcohol is involved, stay far away.

Sexual assault is prevalent in the world, but not in your life. Except the thing is, it really is prevalent in your life.

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Every 98 seconds, Over 11%  of college students, male and female, are victims of rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

This affects you, because if it isn’t you, then it is probably someone you know. Most likely, it’s 1 in 6 of your girl friends, actually.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, wherein society attempts to bring the reality of sexual violence to the forefront and fight against sexual violence.

Our current political climate makes this month a little different than years past. Everywhere you look, there’s a new candidate, like Donald Trump, or a celebrity, like Casey Affleck, or college student, like Brock Turner, making national news for sexual assault, most of the time facing little-to-no repercussions. With that truth, it begs the question: How do we talk about sexual assault accurately and honestly when our society chooses to see it only as hypothetical?

Our political parties say they want to make strides against sexual violence; but, we knowingly elect a president who graphically explained how he partakes in sexual violence. We say our politicians are transparent and trustworthy, but a man sits in the Oval Office who had 12 cases of sexual assault against him.

We say we stand in solidarity with victims of sexual violence while women across the US are forced to provide parental rights to rapists that impregnate them. We tell women to be bold and report the crimes, but when rapes that are witnessed by multiple people and brought in court, rapists face only mere months in prison. We create cinema depicting and fighting the continuation of sexual violence, but we give dozens of awards to actors who have publicly settled multiple cases of sexual assault. We say we want to stand up for male victims of rape, but do nothing when over 80 thousand inmates, predominantly male, are raped each year as part of a “norm”.

And it isn’t just out there, in Hollywood or Washington D.C. It’s here, at Azusa Pacific, at other universities. 23.4% of female and 5.4% of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. And the worst part? Victims don’t report their crimes, because 21% of them say they “believed it wasn’t important enough” or “believed police would not or could not do anything to help.”

This tells me one thing: Our government, our media, our idols— they certainly are leading by example.

So how do we do it? We keep going. Whether you have been a victim or you are an ally, don’t get discouraged. Continue to stay informed.

Occurrences of sexual assault are down 60% from 1993. That’s a statistic we can be proud of, and it’s most likely due to political and social activism and awareness. Yes, this April is harder than previous ones,but that is also the exact reason that sexual assault awareness  is so necessary.

Happy April, and happy National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Know that if you are a victim, you are not alone. You are not at fault. You are not disgraced or dirty and your worth did not decrease. You are strong, but you can be more than strong. Be brave, and tell someone. You may be part of a statistic now, but you can be part of the work that changes them.

For more information as to who to talk to about an assault, reach out to the Office of Women’s Development on east campus, or head to the Community  Counseling Center and set up an appointment. You can be even be seen immediately, if you need.