08 September 2010

College Women Face Epidemic of Sexual Assault

Here's a statistic that should stop you dead in your tracks: A recent report [pdf] from the Department of Justice has found that 1 in 5 women on college campuses will be victims of rape or attempted rape before they graduate. Yes, you read that correctly. 1 in 5.

Those numbers indicate that rape on campus has reached epidemic proportions -- and shockingly, they may not even come close to accurately reflecting the real incidence of sexual assault at colleges nationwide. Another new study, this one from the Center for Public Integrity, found that students "often keep quiet when they are sexually assaulted because they blame themselves for what happened, don't realize that what happened to them was a crime or fear that their assailants or others will strike again if they report them." Meaning of course, that many more young women have been sexually assaulted than we know about, but remain too scared (of judgment; of retaliation) to speak out.

This week, ABC News's Nightline ran a moving piece about one young woman who did indeed muster the courage to speak out about what happened to her -- but then found that no one at her college was willing to listen. Megan Wright's story is a heartbreaking one, and it serves as a much needed reminder of how much work remains to be done -- on college campuses and in society at large -- if we hope to eradicate rape from our culture.

Watch Megan's story.

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