By Kjerstyn J., 14
It's a word that stirs many emotions: for some, it brings fear; for others, it's something to joke about; for many, it simply brings indifference.
The truth is, rape and sexual assault are horrible things that affect us all. No matter your age or gender, rape is your issue.
As a high schooler, I've seen many people look at rape as something that happens to other people and will not affect them, or people they know. I myself have thought regarding rape, "That's something that happens to other people, not me or my friends." But ever since a few weeks ago, my understanding of rape and sexual assault has completely changed.
A few weeks ago, I found out someone my mom knows was a victim of an attempted rape. This girl was in high school, someone who I'm sure never planned for something like this to happen to her.
This taught me that rape is something we all need to be aware of. The incident I just mentioned isn't rare. Did you know that 38% of date rape victims are ages 14-17? In fact, rape itself isn't rare. Think of any random four people you know. One in four girls will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, as will one in five men. These will be people you know, not just strangers.
Rape can't be excused by the phrase "She was too flirty, her skirt was too short." That's not an excuse for a crime that leaves a permanent scar on someone's past, and it's never the victim’s fault. Rape can happen to anyone. And sadly, rapists can be anyone. Sixty-five percent of rape victims say the rapist was a boyfriend, a trusted friend, or an acquaintance.
Rape isn't something most people think seriously about, but it should be. With an election coming up, we need to elect a leader who takes rape and sexual assault as serious issues, not things to be joked about. Because you might think these things don't happen at your school, in your town, in your life, but if you don't become aware now, we will never see a change.