Before #MeToo Becomes Yesterday’s News, the Truth About Rape on College Campuses

The recent #MeToo movement is a sobering wakeup call to just how prevalent sexual harassment and abuse really are. We hear about it on the local news, but in light of the Harvey Weinstein revelations hearing from the many women who have stepped forward with their own stories has both personalized the problem, and exposed how big a problem it really is. But what we can’t even begin to quantify is the effects of the shame and brokenness these women have been left to deal with because of what happened to them.

Many of these women (some who are still suffering in silence) have been the victim of rape. And for many of these, the rape occured in college. Studies show 1 in 5 college women experience rape or attempted rape. But only about 20% of sexual assualts on college campuses get reported. Likely this is because many victims feel guilt over their own behavior (alcholol and drug use are often a factor) though by no circumstance is a victim responsible. Another reason rapes go unreported is because in most cases the perpetrator is a friend or acquaintance of the victim, who in turn fears consequences of telling on him.

Having ministered alongside my husband at a university for nearly eight years, the reality of date rape, along with the pervasive hook up culture and binge drinking on college campuses is something we have dealt with personally and also read much about. Therefore, when it came time for our own daughter to head off to college last year this was one of our biggest fears. Since early high school we had talked about this stuff, but without any #MeToos she was slow to believe the picture we painted about drinking, dating, sex, and the college culture was as we said it would be.

But after being on campus for almost three semesters, and witnessing what takes place at fraternity parties and in dorms, she now sees we were right.  Thankfully, it has led her to take more seriously precautions about holding her own drink and staying with her sisters. And though she used to be bitter about her curfew in high school and our conviction that, “Nothing good happens after midnight,” I now hear her repeating this mantra to others (with a slightly altered time because of the late hour college kids even go out).

My hope in shining the light on another not-talked-about-enough problem is to spare more women from ever having to say #MeToo. The life-altering experience of sexual assault can lead to deep depression, thoughts of (and attempted) suicide and carry with it shame that will infilitrate into future relationships.

*In my daughter's pledge class of a 115 girls, statistics say 23 of them will be victims of rape
*81% of college rapes happen in a dormitories
*72% of college rapes happened when the victim was so intoxicated she was unable to consent or refuse
*Freshmen girls are the most vulnerable of becoming a rape victim.

Parents of high school and college students, please talk to your girls and boys about this topic. They may roll their eyes, but education is the first step against naivety – theirs and ours.

There is so much on the topic, plus the book we recommend, Unhooked about the culture in general.  It’s not fun reading, and honestly I think sometimes we’ld rather not know what’s happening, but we must in order to increase our kids awareness, and hopefully help protect them- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If only education were enough to guarantee their protection, but for that I continue to pray.  Not being able to fully protect our kids has got to be the hardest things about being a parent. And it is also my biggest struggle in trusting God. #YouToo?

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