My Sisters Will Not Be Silenced

Over the past year, there has been a public outcry and protests on college campuses across the nation due to the handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases filed by students with their respective institutions.

The most recent survey by the Association of American Universities found that more than 11 percent of college students have experienced nonconsensual sexual contact in their college careers. The same report found that less than half the women surveyed did not even report their sexual assault. The picture is clear, women are survivors of nonconsensual sexual contact at alarming rates on college campuses (and everywhere else), yet do not report or the incidents and do not receive the help and support they deserve.

Recent examples of confronting this system of sexual injustice include the protests on the campus of Howard University in March. I, myself, am a Howard alumnus and was proud of my fellow Bison as current students stood in solidarity with a survivor of sexual assault. This was a result of what was perceived as an unsatisfactory response by university administration in dealing with the real issues.

Yes, it is true that the university must follow due process because of the possibility of false accusations, which also happens. But with the number of cases that are, in fact, valid, it is good to see students speaking out against these issues and standing in solidarity against the institutional and cultural dynamics that have not yet dismantled our rape culture in the United States, especially on college campuses.

Like many of my peers, I also have personal stake in fighting against rape culture. I, personally, know too many women who have been victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape.

One particular case is etched in my mind as I remember the fury I felt when I learned that one of my close friends at Howard had been raped. “How could a man do something like that?” I asked myself. My friend felt guilty that it happened. There was a sense of guilt for putting herself in that position, defiled and sinful for something that was never her fault.

It is never a survivor’s fault that they are assaulted. She didn’t report it because she didn’t think it was “worth it” and didn’t want to “be responsible for another black man in prison.

There are several scriptures that address sexual violence in the Bible, but the rape of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13 captures these emotions and their aftermath best in my view. The lust, misogyny, anger, denial, guilt, depression, lack of fulfillment, and self-hatred and shame of the rapist, the stigma, the sorrow of the survivor, Tamar, are all found in scripture.

The anger of the aftermath and how it impacts people so far beyond the parties directly involved are also found there in those verses. It is illuminating that the aggressor, the victim, and their families experience psychological, social, and spiritual pain from the event, even in scripture.

Jesus stood on the side of those who were survivors of oppression, violence, and sexual devaluation. So, it is also safe to say that He would stand against rape as well.

As men, we must stand with our sisters against patriarchal, oppressive structures and influences. We must stand with them in the midst of the pain. We must, as Christians, stand and speak against sexual violence in all of its forms, against men and women.

We must stand for God’s Kingdom Culture influenced by love and justice against the rape culture that covers our country. We saw a step toward that on Howard’s campus in March and on other campuses nationwide last year. We have to keep walking toward justice and true love. We must break the silence about sexual violence.

Watch for more details on the Howard University protests below:

What are your thoughts on the recent protests? Share them below.