by: Alexandra Tollefson
I am outraged. I am utterly flabbergasted.
Two weeks. It hasn’t even been two weeks since my fellow freshmen and I moved into the dorms here at MSUM. I’m still having to fight off the anxiety over my new classes. I can’t imagine how my fellow freshman Dragon is feeling right now after being so terribly and horrifically violated.
In case you were unaware, there was a rape in Grantham. A freshman girl was assaulted earlier this week by 23-year-old Angel Vega, another student here, according to police reports. I can’t imagine what this girl must be feeling. My heart sincerely goes out to her. The mindset of a rapist baffles me completely, and it is never something I wish to understand.
What baffles me equally, however, is the sentence this sexual offender could be facing. “Could” is the operative word here. A WDAY article said that Vega could face up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.
Am I missing something here? Did this man not just commit what is arguably the most absurd and terrible crime one can commit? Rape isn’t something that someone does once for fun. Rape isn’t something that someone does once because they just really need to have sex right then and there. Rape is something that neither the victim nor the predator will ever forget. For the rapist, the act of sexually assaulting someone is a powerful one. It’s about dominance. It’s about them being powerful and getting what they want. That feeling will never go away. If a person knows that they have the ability to get fifty dollars from someone with just a little effort, what is stopping them from collecting fifty dollars from every one they can? Criminals—and yes, that is what he is, a criminal, not a “student athlete”, not a “wrestler”—such as these need to be put away for, in this writer’s humble opinion, at least fifteen years. If it were up to me, this kind of behavior would never be tolerated in the slightest and the punishments doled out for it would be far more severe than they are now.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, reports on their site that only three out of every 100 rapists will ever spend a single day in a prison cell. The rest will simply walk free.
Most of this is due to a staggering number of rapes going unreported. However, even when a rape is reported, it doesn’t always lead to an arrest, and when it does, there’s only a 25 percent chance of it leading to a felony conviction and incarceration.
There are also plenty of examples of rapists walking free even if they’ve been sentenced. Look at the Steubenville rapists. I read not too long ago on MSN that one of the two men found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl was allowed back on his high school’s football team for his senior year. He and his friend raped a girl and recorded the act and yet only faced one and two years in juvenile detention (one of the offenders faced two years because of the video of the rape found on his phone).
This is a prime example which shows just how easily these criminals can get off. Fifteen years is just the tip of the iceberg Vega should be sailing into, but in reality, he’s more likely to run into an ice cube. I would be overjoyed to hear that this man received the full sentence he was allotted and had to serve every second of it. Do I think that will actually happen? No.
This is a tragic, awful thing that happened. This young woman’s life will never be the same. The circumstances don’t matter. Yes, there was alcohol involved. Yes, she was underage. Yes, she was still drinking. But none of that—I repeat, none of that—is an excuse or a valid reason for doing what this offender did. This was a sick act by a sick man, and unfortunately, it is something that is likely to happen again. The statistic is one in four. One in four of us will face some form of sexual assault.
I will be honest; that scares me. Knowing a statistic and having it put into action in front of me are two very different things. After this tragedy, rape isn’t just a concept to me anymore. It is a real, tangible problem. More importantly, it is a problem we can combat.
MSUM offers a great course for all women. Rape Aggression Defense, or R.A.D., is a class offered to women free of charge. It isn’t a martial arts class, but it does teach women how to defend themselves.
Personally, I’ve already signed up for this class. The email I received stated, “RAD draws from a combination of different martial arts and fighting systems to develop physical techniques that are both easy to learn and remember and also effective when used in real life, high stress situations. RAD students are able to put their skills to practical use, through simulation training with a trained aggressor.
Along with learning physical techniques, RAD students will discuss topics such as date rape, domestic violence, stalking, online safety, self-defense and the law, and the use of pepper spray and other personal weapons. MSUM’s certified RAD instructors hope to not only empower their students with the confidence needed to defend themselves physically, but also to develop in them an all-around mindset of personal safety in their daily lives.
The classes are completely free to female students, faculty and staff, and are private and confidential. The program is suitable for women of all ages and abilities.” If anyone is interested in signing up, it isn’t too late! Just contact Marc Baetsch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will send you more info.
The class will be held on Tuesdays, starting Sept. 23 and going through Oct. 28.
Victims of rape can also fight back. One of the most important things to do is report the assault. Get a rape kit done. Secure your case by writing down anything and everything you can remember and by preserving all the evidence you can. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it, convince you it was an accident or tell you that you were asking for it any way. You were assaulted. This was no accident. You have every right to seek justice.
Most importantly, however, you must remember that you are not alone. There are many women who have been through this same thing. There are support networks out there to connect to, along with your own friends and family. Never feel like it is you against the world. I promise you, someone out there cares.
Rape is a serious issue, and it’s an issue we don’t take seriously enough. This heinous crime that takes away a person’s right to their own body should be taken more seriously.
It shouldn’t be justified. It shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. It shouldn’t be forgotten about. It is something that should be talked about, discussed, and acknowledged as a true problem with our society.