“I felt so alone, even with my friends and family behind me. I was filled with guilt and was so disappointed in myself. My head fills with the ‘what ifs’ when I’m trying to sleep. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone in the room. What if I didn’t have a drink before seeing him?” For many sexual assault survivors, thoughts like those are far too common in the wake of their attacks. In today’s culture, which often seems to tolerate assault friendly behavior, these instances continue to be the norm.

Associate fuse editor Samantha Stahl wrote this week’s Sex and the SUNY, describing her nonconsensual sexual experience.

Women ages 18-24 who are enrolled in college are three times more likely to suffer from sexual violence than women outside of school.
Eight percent of all sexual assaults occur while the survivor is attending school. But women are not the only ones who are subjected to these instances of violence.

One-in-33 American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, according to R.A.I.N.N, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network.

Today, rape culture is ingrained in our society. Some people don’t recognize it. They are blind to what happens around them or even to them. Because it is so deeply implanted, the victims of these assaults may not realize what is happening to them. In some cases, the perpetrator could even be ignorant to their actions.

Rape culture, a Time article proposes, is when survivors are asked if they were drinking when the incident occurred. Rape culture is the lyrics of the popular 2014 song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, which mirrors the words of actual rapists. Rape culture is when cyberbullies take pictures of sexual assaults and harass their victims online after the event.

Rape culture is all around us — it’s on YouTube, our social media, in our music — it is a part of our American culture. It is difficult to get away from. In that same Time article we see that “rape culture is when college campus advisers tasked with supporting the student body shame survivors who report their rapes…and are more concerned with getting sued by assailants than supporting survivors.”

The SUNY system’s sexual violence response policy tasks designated Title IX coordinators with providing survivors with effective intervention services, protection and other accommodations as they deem necessary.

Plattsburgh State’s Title IX coordinator, Butterfly Blaise, gives survivors the opportunity to go through the campus’ judicial process anonymously if they so decide. The coordinator also assists the students in getting academic support and health services on campus.

As much as our administration and other college administrations decide they need to make a change in campus cultures, students also need to do their part. We are a community and need to be a prevalent part of the conversation. We need to be part of the change.

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