What is rape? According to the Healthy Place, “Rape is a heinous act performed when one party wishes to exact complete power and control over another.” Rape may take place in any setting such as a school, a nightclub, or even on the street. But the real question is, why does it even happen?
It happens because of poorly used free will. Rape is an action that violates someone’s human dignity, moreover their identity. Why can something so pure as human dignity be violated so easily?
When a person is raped, they continue living and try to heal and move on. Unfortunately, some women end up getting pregnant. Some women keep the child, others don’t. We should all have compassion for women who eventually end up getting pregnant as a result of rape. The hope is that women recognize their own dignity and that of their child, and receive support. A good example of this is Rebecca Kiessling, who is the president of the Save the 1 organization. This organization supports children who were conceived because of rape.
In the case of when a man gets raped, there’s a sense of embarrassment. I could only imagine what is going on through his head. As a man, why didn’t I have enough strength to fight off my attacker? What will my parents think when they find out? Am I not a man anymore now that I am labeled as a rape victim? According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male”. This means that males get raped much less than women. With this statistic, I now see why men can be embarrassed.
No one is born evil. I personally think that a person can start to have deep-seated problems depending on who they are and how they were raised. Even if the person is raised in a good home, they can make choices to do things they know are wrong. I feel when someone changes into a lesser version of themselves, they fail to recognize their intrinsic dignity. It’s more like they don’t even know what human dignity is anymore.
Rape shouldn’t mean victims have to hide their experience. Once they are comfortable sharing their stories, I hope they gain the confidence to inspire others one day with the truth that they can get through it.
I have a friend who was raped when she was a bit younger. If she had never told me, I would have never known. She walks in life with such pride and grace. Even though she is a year younger than me, I look up to her. I would love to have just a piece of her courage. Her story is hers and no one can take that away from her. I am honored to know her and be one of her closest friends.
Rape is not a joke. Rape is a travesty. It’s unfair that we can’t stop rape from happening altogether, although we should work to make it happen less. Rape support network RAINN asks, “Are you in a safe place? If you’re not feeling safe, consider reaching out to someone you trust for support. You don’t have to go through this alone.” With this message, I hope we all reach out to any family members or friends who may have experienced sexual violence.
Written by Maame Ocran, a WYA Headquarters intern from New York City.