My colleague recently brought up the idea of “The Unsaid” as an interesting writing topic; discussing things that are a part of contemporary human experience but that fly under the radar. For a long time, I felt that street harassment and sexual assault fell into this category. It became so quotidian that it was brushed off like a pesky tap on the shoulder. Now, it seems everyone is talking about it all the time. This trend can often cause a backlash, where sympathies suddenly turn to disdain, for occupying the time slot when the Simpsons is supposed to be on, or taking up too many pages in the Times. News bombardment can often desensitize us to the reality of the story being covered.
This week the Obama administration released the list of 55 Universities under investigation for violation of Title IX, an informational website for sexual assault survivors, NotAlone.gov, as well as a star-packed PSA on sexual assault. To bring it back to the personal, Democracy Now did a feature this week on Lena Sclove, one student from Brown University telling her story of a brutal rape by a friend on campus, and the subsequent difficulties filing a complaint with Brown’s administration.
I was basically introduced to a sexual assault advocate on campus, who is a wonderful woman, and there are incredible people at Brown who, you know, do support survivors. The problem is it’s a broken system. They are working in a broken system. So I was advised by many people on my various options. While I was told I could go to the criminal justice system, I was told, you know, in the state of Rhode Island, 2 percent of accused rapists are actually found guilty and see any time.
–Caterina Gironda, Assistant Editor