One-in-five: I’m that Statistic

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One-in-five women are sexually assaulted during their college career. Unfortunately for me, I was one of those women.

I have not seen justice served to the man who attacked me and I don’t believe I ever will. The morning after he attacked me I didn’t go to the police. I didn’t write down what day it happened and the only people I told brushed it off like it was no big deal. It has been a year since I was attacked. There are still times I lie awake in bed sobbing because I now know that if I’m caught off guard anyone can take advantage of me without my consent, but I am getting better.

But my story is just one out of a million similar stories from men and women who have been sexually assaulted, and have never seen justice.

The Washington Post has said there is no sure statistic on how many unreported sexual assaults occur annually but in my experience it is probably at least twice the number that are reported. The reason I didn’t report what happened to me is because to this day, I don’t believe the police can do anything to help me.

About six months after I was attacked, I met a woman who had been raped her freshman year of college. She was so scared after the incident that she just went home and took a shower to try and relax. She never spoke about what happened to anyone except close friends until a year later, when she finally worked up the courage to go to the police. She submitted  her statement detailing what happened when, where and who did it. To this day, this woman still has not seen this man charged, arrested, or put on trial for what he did.

I can’t blame the police for not doing anything, though. Unless someone who is attacked gets evidence of the incident the day it happened, it’s the survivor’s word against the assaulter, and there is no way to tell who is telling the truth. If police were to start arresting every person accused of sexually assaulting someone, how many innocent people would be put behind bars?

The best thing a survivor who’s waited too long (like me) can do is just try to try to move on, if you feel like it will help use the resources campus offers. I hear SAAVI has worked wonders for other people. And if you are religious know that one day the monster who did this to you is going to rot in hell.

To the men and women who will be sexually assaulted, I beg of you be brave. Go to the police after you are attacked and put these people behind bars so they can never hurt another person again. I was too afraid to do anything. If I could go back and do it again I would do things differently.

To the friends and family who we tell our story to, you don’t need to apologize. We don’t blame you for what happened. We just want to feel safe again. If you really want to help, tell us that we are safe when you’re around.

This is an unjust world and I can’t tell you that it will ever become just, but I can tell you that we cannot stop fighting. We cannot stop trying to help people understand that they are survivors not victims. We cannot stop trying to make the world safer, and to get people to understand that taking away someone else’s free will by forcing yourself on them is wrong. 

— Shanie Howard is a junior studying journalism. She loves her family and friends and hopes to one day work for the Associated Press.

@HowardShanie

shaniehoward214@gmail.com


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  1. Kristi Hutchings

    Shanie, what a brave, beautiful article. I’m so sorry. Sorry for what he did to you. Sorry that you and countless other women are not believed and even shamed after being sexually assaulted. Thank you for speaking out.

  2. Ashley Waddoups

    Shanie,
    I commend you for speaking out about this critical issue, and for being the strong, incredible woman that you are!

  3. Tom

    First, this comment is not intended to hurt you nor to stop anyone from going to the police after these incidents. Rather the opposite. If something happens report it.

    “I have not seen justice served to the man who attacked me and I don’t believe I ever will. The morning after he attacked me I didn’t go to the police. ”

    Why would someone get punished if it is has never been reported?

    “But my story is just one out of a million similar stories from men and women who have been sexually assaulted, and have never seen justice.”

    See above.

    “The Washington Post has said there is no sure statistic on how many unreported sexual assaults occur annually but in my experience it is probably at least twice the number that are reported.”

    First, citation needed. Secondly, the Uniform Crime Reports only give official reported statistics–so yes there is not an ‘official unreported sexual assault statistics’ because if there was, then they would have been reported. According the The National Crime Victimization Survey, or a survey of about 75,000 Americans a year are asked if they have been a victim of a crime, estimate about 40% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

    “The reason I didn’t report what happened to me is because to this day, I don’t believe the police can do anything to help me.”

    That is your error in logic and I urge everyone not to listen to her.

    “About six months after I was attacked, I met a woman who had been raped her freshman year of college. She was so scared after the incident that she just went home and took a shower to try and relax. She never spoke about what happened to anyone except close friends until a year later, when she finally worked up the courage to go to the police. She submitted her statement detailing what happened when, where and who did it. To this day, this woman still has not seen this man charged, arrested, or put on trial for what he did.”

    Once again, if something happens report ASAP. Follow the steps for a rape kit. Go to the police. For someone to get convicted of a crime the jury has to be sure they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means if one person on a the jury has one small inkling of doubt, then they should not be punished. DNA evidence, fast reporting, etc. will improve the conviction rate. Your friend reported it a year later. To a jury that would be a hard sell to convict someone.

    “I can’t blame the police for not doing anything, though. Unless someone who is attacked gets evidence of the incident the day it happened, it’s the survivor’s word against the assaulter, and there is no way to tell who is telling the truth. If police were to start arresting every person accused of sexually assaulting someone, how many innocent people would be put behind bars?”

    You would be correct. See above. Thank you for recognizing this.

    “The best thing a survivor who’s waited too long (like me) can do is just try to try to move on, if you feel like it will help use the resources campus offers. I hear SAAVI has worked wonders for other people.”

    Everyone please use the resources on Campus/private therapy. It helps– look at the research.

    “And if you are religious know that one day the monster who did this to you is going to rot in hell.”

    As ~60-85% of the population is LDS/Christian I am going to say that that is not very christian like.

    For the rest of the article I support 100%.


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