More Than Broken Silence

Maggie Algero : Kristen Dunham
Kristen Dunham

Victims of sexual violence have been breaking the silence about their experiences in the United States over the past two years.

We have seen in Hollywood and other places in the U.S. how women and even men have been reporting sexual violence, whether the abuses happened years ago or recently. Politicians and celebrities alike have been accused of these crimes. People have also shared their stories on social media through the viral #MeToo hashtag.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) website, statistics show that only 310 out of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, meaning that about two out of three cases go unreported. I see courage and broken silence when people come forward, yet I also find it alarming to learn things that happen to them. It is even more alarming to realize just how many cases are going unreported.

RAINN statistics also show that most sexual violent crimes are committed against young women, showing that females make up 82 percent of juvenile rape victims and 90 percent of adult victims. Although young women have a much higher risk of experiencing sexual violence, it is important to understand that no one is immune to it based on gender or age. In any case, the statistics and stories in the media reveal an ugly truth in society: sexual violent crimes have been hidden too long. Additionally, many of these crimes remain unreported and may never be reported.

Sexual violence is an unpleasant reality faced by many. Whether the abuser is a stranger, acquaintance, friend or even a romantic partner, no one should have to face this at any time. I hope that as more people come forward to tell their stories, other victims who suffer silently will be inspired and gain the courage to come forward as well.

However, I do not just want the silence of victims to continue being broken. I want to see justice being served and abusers being held accountable for their actions. I want to see a drastic decrease in sexual violence in society. Most importantly, I want to see men and women protecting and respecting each other as human beings. It is our right to be protected and respected, just as it is our obligation to protect and respect others. We would not face these problems if more people in the world understood this.

We may not be able to end all sexual violence in the world, or even in the U.S. We can, continue to stand up for the victims, fight for accountability for the abusers and remember our rights for ourselves and obligations to others.

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