We are all terrible at addressing sexual assault

On June 2nd, 2016, Brock Turner was sentenced to only six months in a county jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. After originally facing a maximum sentence of 14 years, Judge Aaron Perksy decided upon the lighter sentence because "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him…I think he will not be a danger to others." Unfortunately, Brock's Father wasn't satisfied with the light sentence, as he claims his son is paying a steep price for "20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." During the trial, Brock Turner was portrayed as a good kid with great swimming abilities and good academics. During the trial, Brock Turner never acknowledged that he sexually assaulted his victim, and blamed the alcohol he consumed that night. Brock Turner gets to sit in a county jail for six months, register as a sex offender, and then live the rest of his life as a free man, while the victim will continue to live with the pain and memories of that night for years to come.

This sums up rape culture in America.

Our society is absolutely terrible when it comes to addressing sexual assault. There is so much miseducation, ignorance, and general laziness surrounding this huge issue affecting scores of men and women. It is assumed by many that sexual assault isn't as big of a problem as it is made out to be. However, 23% of female college students experience unwanted sexual contact. Society places the problem of sexual assault solely on women. Current Ohio Governor and former Presidential candidate John Kasich had the audacity to suggest that women can avoid sexual assault by simply not going to parties where alcohol is involved, as if it's only the woman's job to avoid being assaulted, and as if parties are the only places where sexual assault can take place. The truth is, half of sexual assaults occur within 1 mile of the victim's home. I find it horrifying whenever someone is misinformed on something like this, especially someone in such a high seat of power as John Kasich, who makes decisions everyday that affects 11.59 million Ohioans. With his logic, maybe women shouldn't even live at home?

People don't see the point in getting serious about addressing sexual assault. This Op ed suggests that harsh sentences for sexual assault perpetrators isn't necessary because it won't make a difference in getting more women to report assault, and harsh sentences end up damaging yet another person in the process (the perpetrator). What this letter completely misses is that the reason why many women (and men) don't report assault is because most of the time there is no incentive. In the rare case where a victim comes forward to report assault (only 32% of sexual assaults are reported to the police), they can face backlash such as retaliation and disbelief. Most of the time, the perpetrator receives a slap on the wrist and faces little to no punishment (98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail/prison), continuing the cycle in which victims don't come forward. Cracking down on assault and holding people accountable will make a difference, and the reason why we don't see this difference right now is because as a society America is not serious about addressing sexual assault.

Universities are failing to protect victims and punish perpetrators. Examples of this emerge time and time again, with the most recent being Baylor University covering up allegations of sexual violence by football players, and even retaliating against someone who reported assault. As of May 1, 2014, there were 55 Universities being investigated for Title IX violations.

We don't support women. For example, women at Ohio State have been lobbying for a Women's Center for years. Having a Women's Center is important because in 2016 women are still dealing with huge issues such as gender discrimination, sexual assault and equal pay on a daily basis. Having a place where women can receive resources and support is vital. However, administrators continue to drag their feet and offer excuses for not having one, such as funding. Meanwhile, Ohio State has the money to spend $42 million on renovations for Ohio Stadium, $700,000 on renovations for Browning Amphitheatre, $200 million on a new arts district, and continues to support a culture of big bonuses for administrators.

The thing about sexual assault is that it's everyone's problem. Every 107 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America. This means by the time I've finished writing this blog post, there will have been 364 people assaulted today. It takes each of us to get serious about assault, from no longer laughing at rape jokes to believing and supporting a friend or relative who comes to you and confides that they have experienced sexual assault. Unfortunately, unless we educate ourselves and start addressing this huge problem, nothing will change and we will continue to hear more and more stories like Brock Turner's. It's up to everyone to do something about it.