One in four American women will report surviving rape in their life. Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, with 80% of reported assaults occurring to people under the age of 30. Of the reported assaults, 97% of the perpetrators will never see the inside of a jail cell. As we saw with Steubenville, the perception of rape when perpetrated by high school or college football stars changes dramatically as victim blaming and rape apologizing becomes acceptable.
Under the spotlight now is the University of Montana football team and campus security team. An investigation found that between 2009 and 2012, there were at least six football players involved in some way of sexual assaulting female students, but three of those six were not prosecuted within the campus judicial system until a year after the assault was reported to their football coach. The same investigation found that campus security officers were degraded and discriminated against the female students who reported the crimes. This investigation has led the University of Montana to enhance their security team to make sure they are providing proper responses to sexual assaults occurring on campus.
The ignorance and ill-preparedness of the campus security team is evident not only because of the seriously late prosecution of only half of the perpetrators, but because of the direct dealings campus security had with the victims. Some reports note that campus security officers described the victims' assaults as "regretted sex." A security officer even, after talking to a female student who wasn't as "visibly upset" as he had expected her to be, and because he could not see any physical harm done to her and could smell alcohol on her breath, concluded there was no reason to investigate further into her case. Female students that reported their assaults also had to deal with incredibly personal questions asked by campus security, casting blame onto the victims as they questioned them.
With the chances of a female student being assaulted or raped increasing dramatically the minute she starts college, the severe lack of concern for their safety at the University of Montana and across the country is appalling and reeks of a bystander privilege that just continues to perpetuate the problem. RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, states that more than half of rapes in the country are not reported. Already, more than half of women who are sexually assaulted or raped are afraid of reporting what happened to them, and ill-prepared campus security teams like that working at the University of Montana further the notion that rape survivors should keep what happens to them private.
This of course is problematic in that keeping silent about rape doesn't actually make rape go away. It takes education, understanding, and compassion. Men and women, especially college-aged men and women, need to be taught that rape is never acceptable under any circumstances. We need to teach men that they are not born violent creatures, and we need to teach women that they are not objects to be conquered. Police officials and campus security teams need to be trained in how to deal with reported rapes. It saddens me that that has to be said, as rape and assault are legitimate crimes. But as we continue to see, because it happens against women and because not everyone really understand what constitutes rape, nothing gets done when rapes are reported. When we start remembering that these victims are our mothers, fathers, sisters, daughters, brothers, sons, and friends, that is when we can start doing the right thing. It has to start now.