We need to talk about sexual assault

Unfortunately today’s topic is not a cheery one and this post involves a lot of writing. It is, however, a topic that needs to be talked about. As some of you may know, I study a law degree. Recent developments in my legal experience have made me aware of just how oblivious the general public are to the prevalence of sexual assault. The experience has inspired me to research and support campaigns in this area, but for now I’m hoping this blog post gets the ball rolling.

Firstly, I have to say that I was shocked by how lightly allegations of sexual assault are treated. Comments such as “it’s not that serious” and “he/she could have done a lot worse are far too common. Sexual assault can obviously affect both male and female victims, but it is undeniable that women are considerably more at risk. It seems that society views a man’s right to a woman’s body as an absolute right rather than the privilege which it should be. Essentially, it needs to be widely understood that any kind of sexual assault is a crime – nothing more, nothing less.

Even more shocking is the fact that people genuinely believe that most allegations of sexual assault are simply “made up.” Yes, there are some sick people who make up all sorts of things about all sorts of people. However, in the majority of cases, it is completely nonsensical for the victim to simply invent stories that lead to extensive emotional trauma and sometimes troubling court proceedings.

Moreover, in my eyes, the UK’s criminal law doesn’t afford enough protection to victims of sexual violence. Unfortunately, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is an extremely hard presumption to rebut in cases of one person’s word against another. I can’t help but think that this is particularly troubling for victims who are actually brave enough to come forward and give evidence in court.

People are, no doubt, becoming increasingly aware of sexual assault committed within the public eye – particularly on nights out. However, there is one extremely disturbing area that no-one seems to talk about; instances of sexual abuse within the family home. It seems that families are expected to just nip it in the bud and get on with it. More often than not, the adults concerned seem to do little to protect the often underage victims. I’m sorry, but I find it absolutely absurd that no-one seems to have the balls (no pun intended) to discuss such sensitive and prevalent issues.

At the end of the day, the only way we can start to envisage any kind of solution is by having more of an open discussion about the issue. For the sake of the victims of such a personal and emotionally traumatising crime, please take a few minutes from your day to spread awareness and maybe even research the issue a little further.

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