Disclaimer: This article contains language that may be seen as inappropriate for some readers. Discretion is advised.

By Marissa Perez

Editor in Chief

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), sexual assault continues to represent the most rapidly growing violent crime in America, claiming a victim every 45 seconds. Many of these attacks go unreported, making this a silent-violent epidemic.

According to the National Victim Center, over 700,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted per year here in the United States. Approximately 61% of these victims are under the age of 18.

So the real question is, why is this issue on the rise? Is it because we are too afraid to speak out about this topic? Is it because we tolerate this type of behavior? Or maybe it’s because our society finds this type of behavior as acceptable and as a norm.

I think it’s time that we all take a stand and talk about this issue. Just three years ago, there was a sexual assault here at Benedictine University. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chief Salatino said that the women were socializing at the Founder’s Woods apartments then were allegedly attacked when they returned to Neuzil Hall at approximately 3 a.m. Both women, one a student and the other a friend, were 19 years old and reported the allegations to campus police. Salatino said that this was the first reported sexual assault on campus since the department formed in 2006.

After talking with numerous persons of interest and conducting interviews, the DuPage County State’s attorney decided there was insufficient evidence to move forward with charges, according to CBS Chicago.

I remember this case like it happened yesterday. It was my freshman year and I was in complete shock. I had boasted and bragged to all of my high school friends about how this university was ranked one of the safest campuses here in the United States. This case was the reason we now have strict rules on alcohol privileges and why alcohol is now banned from Neuzil.

Perhaps that’s the reason why sexual assault victims are less likely to come forward. Are they afraid that coming forward to say anything will lead to unfavorable change on campus for their peers?

Or perhaps it’s because these victims believe that they are to blame for their assault. According to the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, feelings of guilt and shame are common reaction that follow a sexual assault. Victims often blame themselves, doubt their own judgment, or even wonder if they had led their assailant on to believe that they wanted sex.

Do victims often blame themselves for a sexual assault because that is what our society has led them to believe? I believe that our generation has been led to believe that victims are more than likely to blame because he or she was, “asking for it” by the way they dress or their mannerisms.

We as a country tolerate. In fact, we have a man running for president who brags about sexual harassing women. Donald Trump was just recently caught on film talking about how he has gone after married women and how being famous entitles you to, “do whatever you want” and to, “grab them by the pussy”.

How are these views on women tolerated? Views like these are what lead people to believe that sexual assault is not a serious issue. Talk like this is just brushed off and considered to be “locker room talk”. Billy Bush, the man conducting the interview, was fired from NBC News. Yet the man who initiated the “locker room talk” is still in the 2016 election to become our next president. Let that sink in for a moment.

We need to start taking this issue more seriously because more people are falling victim to sexual assault. We need to speak for those who are too afraid or too ashamed to speak for themselves. We need to set aside our personal comfort to talk about this issue; Stop brushing it off! If you are a victim or know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, I encourage you to speak out and seek help. No one should ever have to live with the guilt or suffering that comes with sexual assault.