View from the Youth
The Parallels of Black Lives Matter & Sexual Assault
by Avery Hudson, George Washington High School
In the United States, only 16%–39% of cases are reported, making sexual assault the most underreported violent crime in the nation (OAESV.org) . What does this mean? From this disturbing statistic, we can see that survivors of sexual assault are scared to go to the police with sexual assault allegations. It has been recorded that police officers show a lack of interest or absence of empathy during interviews about rape and sexual violence (Campbell, 2005). According to Apex Officer.org, a website that details what to expect when training to become an officer, the areas of training consist of patrol procedures, investigations, emergency vehicle operation, report writing, firearms self-defense, and agency policies. The training is usually only about 22 to 27 hours which is a limited amount of time to bestow the power given to law enforcement officers. A conclusion can be made. Police are not trained enough to deal with sexual assault, nor all the other requirements of their profession. Skill sets for victim interviewing have been taught but not uniformly required. Who are survivors supposed to turn to when they can’t trust that their rapist will be prosecuted?
Furthermore, day to day media attention has brought worldwide attention to the deep systemic racism rooted in the police system. This has revealed that Black women disproportionately face violence at the hands of officers on top of the extremely high level of sexual violence inflicted upon them in general. It is evident that racism and rape are linked hand in hand with each other. An attack on the Black community is also an attack on the female, LGBT, and disadvantaged communities. In this time of revolution, we must demand justice and change. It cannot continue like this. I am a young woman who holds my keys between my fingers when I walk to my car and look behind my shoulder when I am running. But as a white female, it is my responsibility to use my privilege to fight for those who have to look over their shoulder every moment of their lives…
I mourn for the Black people who are victims of this system and for those who live today terrified of a force that should exist to protect them in society. Malcolm X once said, “If someone puts their hands on you make sure they never put their hands on anybody else again.” The police system has put hands on many of our brothers and sisters and now we have to make sure that there are consequences for officers that misuse their power. We are here. We will fight for survivors. And we will burn bright against prejudice.