April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and no one is perhaps more misinformed about rape and sexual violence than kids of a certain age. While there are a lot of lies that are in constant circulation regarding who gets raped and why, the idea that these attacks can be thwarted with wardrobe choices or location do a massive disservice to keeping our sons and daughters safe. For every boy who is told that rape is only something that happens to girls, or for every girl who will blame herself for the violation by one of her family members, a myth has certainly been successful.
When considering the actual data on attacks, there is no “rape uniform” as both boys and girls get assaulted in a variety of clothing. Meanwhile, stigmas surrounding victims of assault prevent us from culturally calling out the real narrative that puts our children in danger, such as the idea that they provoked their attacker with appearance, or that young boys shouldn’t be expected to “restrain” themselves in an alcoholic setting.
Sadly, we live in a society that says “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape.” And while lies and justifications continue to let attackers off the hook for their actions, all the alleged warnings and cautionary tales to children often miss the one point that does matter: victims are raped when they’re in the presence of a rapist, no matter the setting, the attire, the time of day, or the perpetrator. And the sooner we get our kids to acknowledge that base line, the safer they’ll ultimately be.