Sexual violence. It is not just a statistic, it is not just someone else’s problem. It is something that is all around us, and it is something that everyone should take part in stopping. When I saw how many signatures there were for the “This is My Business” plea, I was mad, upset and disappointed in Concordia’s community. It is everyone’s business. For a place like Concordia that promotes BREW so much, why are the students not taking part in it? Why is it that most of the signatures on there were those of women? Why is it that women were said to be the ones who have to stand up for themselves and say, No, it is not okay for a man to do as he pleases with me. No, it is not okay for a man to use his strength against women to take charge. And sexual violence is not only happening to women; it is happening to men and children, too.
When I hear how proud some people are of how Concordia tries to reach out, I ask myself, “Are they, though?” Are they really trying to reach out to make a change? Or are they just having issues with something that could not possibly happen to them? Sexual violence exists. It will continue to exist until every person who is not doing those crimes is helping to fight and stop them.
I met a girl a while ago; I never talk to her, I see her around campus, but that is all. She is honestly one of the most vocal people I know. She is outgoing, and she is everything a person wants to be, that one person you can talk to about anything and have her there for you. She sees the world as it is. She was, sadly, a victim of sexual violence. She had a very abusive boyfriend who decided it was okay for him to have sex with her without her consent. When I heard her say that, I was upset. I was mad no one had done anything. What I was more upset about was that no one had done anything even though it was obvious what had happened. She had to become a very strong person to be where she is today. She now tries to help others the way people did not help her.
That is one of the many examples showing how it is not just something that happens to other people. I will use my own example. When I was in high school I had a very abusive boyfriend. He was not this strong guy; he was a charming guy when you met him, and he helped where he could, had a good family, so all was fine and dandy, right? Wrong. He would talk about how he would never hurt the women he loved, how he would never rape someone and so on so forth. Before this I believed in saving myself for marriage. One night he was high and drunk, and I was drowsy. He pinned me down and started having sex with me. I tried to push him off, and I could not. Now looking back at it, why did I not see the signs? Why did I not see the bruises on my arms, the cuts on my hands or the forcefulness he used against me as a sign? No! Why did no one else notice? Why did no one help me in my time of need? I needed that one person to ask me if I was okay. I needed one person to ask, but no one did.
That is why I am so passionate about getting the word out there. This is a problem that has happened to at least one person you know. That is what the problem is. That it is there, that it haunts us everywhere. Women have to be scared and learn new tactics to stay safe. They have to constantly try to learn new ways to stay safe everywhere they go.
Concordia, I am calling upon you to make a change, not just for me, not just for the girl who lives among us, but to protect those you love, because if someone who is so outgoing and so strong can go through something like this, then what makes anyone think that their loved ones are any safer?
This letter was written by Jessica Prieto, contributing writer.