The word “rape” is not a pleasant one to hear, but imagine how unpleasant it is for those who are victims of the crime — or, survivors, as members of the local Sexual Assault Response Team aptly call them.

We are glad that such a team of medical and legal professionals exists here in Waldo County, for no community is immune to the problem of sexual violence. Sadly, the problem will continue as long as society continues to tolerate it. Making statements regarding how short a rape victim’s skirt was on the night of the attack, for example, is what perpetuates the myths surrounding sexual assault. It only gives victims — or survivors — another reason to believe that a rape is somehow their fault, and yet another reason to avoid seeking the help that is available to them.

We found one piece of writing that we feel speaks well to this issue. The words are blunt and the message is powerful. From a publication put out by a group called Manifesta titled “Reassess Your Weapons,” we offer the following excerpt:

If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
If a woman is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 a.m., don’t rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
If your stepdaughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
If your friend thinks it’s OK to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
Tell your sons, godsons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not OK to rape someone.
Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done X.
Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl.
Don’t perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.”

One day perhaps everyone will view rape as the devastating crime that it is. Perhaps raising greater awareness about sexual violence, such as what the Sexual Assault Response Team is doing now, will make the difference between a victim suffering alone and one who comes forward to say, “I am a survivor.”