Intervention is not enough

By Paige Hardy | Guest Columnist

As a survivor of sexual assault, I have become quite jaded with life inside the Baylor bubble. Most people are shocked when I reveal that the boy who assaulted me has an “It’s On Us” shirt hanging in his closet. I, too, have sat through the countless meetings with hip, relatable college students drinking Dr Pepper and distracting the would-be rapist with a smooth intervention. And yet, I was still assaulted.

While the meetings students sit through make assault look black and white, the truth is much more gray. Rape does not always happen at parties or after a night of drinking. Seldom is it simply a stranger with a girl who “drank the punch.” It could happen in the middle of the day. It could be her boyfriend. They could both be sober.

What students really need is to be taught how to give and ask for consent. I know, God forbid we ever talk about sex at Baylor, but it is important. I genuinely believe some guys do not understand the extent of what they are doing. The media often tells us that women will “play hard-to-get” when, in fact, they are actually saying “no.” We have an opportunity as a university to reverse these misconceptions in order to protect students. The training programs tend to mention vaguely what consent is, but never give it practical application.

Additionally, while my assault was horrible, the year following it was so much worse. The way students and teachers react when they find out I am an assault survivor is despicable. I am still asked regularly why I did not immediately call the police, whether I was drinking and how much, and why I did not try to prosecute him. While I can objectively understand the reasoning behind asking these questions, revealing that I am an assault survivor is a deeply personal and often traumatic experience, and this sort of interrogation makes me feel like I somehow did something wrong instead of the boy who attacked me.

Bystander intervention is vital to protecting the most vulnerable, but it is nowhere near enough. We forget that the ones committing these heinous crimes are sitting next to us in Waco Hall listening to the same Title IX presentations we are. Baylor must break the Evangelical norm and talk about sex and consent explicitly in order to prevent another person from experiencing sexual assault. As a school, we must also learn how to respond to survivors to be the caring Christian community we strive to be. The “Christian thing to do” is educate to protect our students. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. Yes, we may have to accept that some students are making choices that do not conform with the Baylor sexual conduct code. But in the end, what matters is how we care and show love to those who need it the most, and right now our track record is pretty dismal.

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