by Viviana Arcia, ’13
Disclaimer: Women are more likely to be survivors of sexual violence than are men. As such, I will refer to perpetrators by male pronouns and survivors by female pronouns. However, domestic violence and sexual assault affects men, women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people.
The recent article on sexual assault on campus has brought an often taboo subject back into campus dialogue. And, like almost every time the subject is back in public consciousness, two opposing and fiercely vocal sides begin heated and passionate debates, often failing to openly take in what the other says and feels, more often than not failing to reach a comfortable middle ground.
As an advocate for survivors of rape and domestic violence for four years and as someone who is close friends with numerous survivors, I myself have very often been dragged into these debates and, in the meantime, made enemies, gained allies, and learned difficult but ultimately fulfilling lessons in engaging “the other side.” Two very important lessons I’ve learned and would hope that others who engage in these discussions do as well is the idea of empathy and compassion.
One in three women will be raped or abused and one in six men will have been survivors of sexual assault/abuse in their lifetime. As such, you are guaranteed to have met a survivor, although most won’t readily identify as such. However, these statistics have failed to affect much of Stanford’s campus culture regarding rape and domestic violence, and it is this culture which I believe holds the most power in reducing the number of violent acts that we perpetrate against each other. Continue reading