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Rape who?

Jeannine Privat | Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rape seems to a word that many Notre Dame students throw around. Haven’t you heard the random student claimed to be “raped” by his or her latest mid-term?

Due to the fact that the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College has one of the lowest rates of reported rapes on campuses in the nation, many students may be able to ignore rape more easily than students at other campuses. But, this does not release students from having an obligation to admit that rape does, in fact, happen in our Notre Dame family, and that some women begin college already having been raped.

In fact, after having to talked to a few girlfriends, ARs and rectresses over the year, I have discovered an uncommon amount of women on the Notre Dame campus that have been raped or sexually assaulted. Our campus is not immune to the fact that one in four women are raped or sexually assaulted each year.

While this problem mainly affects women, a small percentage of men are also taken advantage of, creating an uncomfortable confusing situation for them to be in. This is not to be understood as my saying that it is more difficult for men who are assaulted, merely different and confusing in a way that women, who are the majority of victims, do not have to experience. Both men and women have to deal with the experiences of rape and sexual assault.

Now, none of the above may be surprising to the reader. Rape is not some new phenomenon. And though I have always been personally disappointed in the avenues available to women raped or assaulted on campus, I had never experienced anything like I did this past Saturday. Standing in the senior student section during the football game against Stanford, I was quickly jarred from the game with a shout that came from a row or two above me.

“I’m going to – expletive – rape your children,” a senior male shouted, after a slightly disappointing play by our quarterback. I have grown accustomed to the genderized slurs but nothing has ever sent chills down my spine so quickly, shaking me to my core.

I found myself standing in the middle of the senior section with silent tears streaming down my face.

Some may say I’m overreacting to a harmless comment. – Is it harmless? I have no idea what the man that shouted it meant, but he shouted with such vehemence, that I can’t discount his insult. I personally know too many women that have been raped or sexually assaulted not to find this comment highly offensive.

As my class approaches graduation, I would hope that the University has helped us to gain a certain level of sensitivity to others. Be sensitive; the survivors of rape and sexual assault don’t walk around proclaiming what has happened to them. You can’t know who has or hasn’t been assaulted; so please drop the word rape from your vocabulary, unless you’re talking about the physical, mental and emotional assault of forcing intercourse upon someone.