Sexual Assaults: Its Effect on Victims
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of sexual assault is "an illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent." In a multicultural sense in America, pervasive sexual assault is one of the preventive factors to build an equitable society. The prevalence of sexual assault gets remarkably controversial anytime it is discussed because the involved cases appear to be on the rise. "Man Down" by Rihanna and "Till It Happens To You" by Lady Gaga, both songs play significant roles in spreading awareness and educating about sexual violence. The two pieces of literature are important because they both convey the life lessons and alert the danger of sexual abuse, which profoundly concerns many people.
The trauma of being sexually assaulted results mostly in emotional distress: victims generally struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, and flashbacks. The influence might lead to short-term or long-term pain depends on the way victims accept it. According to RAINN, "82% of all juvenile victims are female. 90% of adult rape victims are female" ("Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics"). People of all genders experience sexual assaults, but female victims have a higher risk of being raped than males do. There exist many reasons for that, such as a female could not fight off the attack or run away because they have more limited strength than males. Moreover, it potentially leads to other issues like self-harm, suicide attempts, eating disorders, and drug addiction.
Rihanna "Man Down" depicts a story of a raped victim who revenges the offender by killing him and later lives with a sense of guilt. The song fits into the theme of sexual violence and seamlessly highlights its effect on survivors physically and mentally. To release all her emotions of being a victim and a murder, the woman deepens into the habit of alcohol abuse. However, this way turns her issue worse. Rihanna character commits her crime, "Me just thinking about the time that I'm facing/It makes me wanna cry" (Rihanna). The offensive manner of the man to her body causes her enrage and a revenge plan. After shooting the man, her satisfy ends up deep in guilt. In reality, victims in such the synonym situation often lack the capacity to be controllable and judgmental, and they also do not thoroughly think to consequences of their manners. In 2010, the time this song released, the nation had a small range of anti-sexual violent organizations for victims to recover from their stress or receive the right medical attention. As a result, survivors are prone to lacking control of their consciousness or failing to find efficient ways to heal the panic attack. Rihanna's narrator exemplifies this case. Subsequently, she says, "Cause I didn't mean to hurt him. Could been somebody's son" (Rihanna). She is now sympathetic to the offender's family, whose son she shoots in the control of her angry. The song's structure effectively pushes viewers toward the victim position so they can aware the dangers of the issue. The adverse effect of sexual assaults is the main factor that promotes the character to revenge and lose control of her manner.
The character's perspective shifts towards the end as she is now remorseful and tormented. The result of the offender's death continues to worry her because she finds no way to accepts his death as a fact of life. The narrator responds, "I didn't mean to end his life, I know it wasn't right. I can't even sleep at night, can't get it off my mind" (Rihanna). In this quote, the narrator realizes the feature of the problem, but it is still too late for her to turn back. Rihanna's narrator believes that the offender must punish for his misconduct and dramatically feel her pain. In this case, sexual violence is underreported, so it seems that nobody can prove that she is a victim. However, the evidence of killing the man in the central station is clear because many witnesses are willing to support her crime. If the character determined to report the incident, the man would be responsible for his misconduct. It seems that the decision is based on emotional rather than rational thought. This piece of literature aims to awake everyone to the essence of deliberately thinking before doing something. Because of lacking it, Rihanna's character put herself into a risk of being a criminal on top of a sexual assault victim.
In comparison, the song "Til It Happens To You" by Lady Gaga highlights a related theme of the severe consequence of sexual assaults. More specifically, this song focuses on campus sexual violence, which is called "rape culture" in real life. A trigger warning declared at the end of the song, "One in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year unless something changes." The song includes a party scene where young men consume alcohol to weaken female's consciousness to engage in sex. Many victims completely lack of awareness of the issue involved under the alcohol influence. The sociologists Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker conclude in a book entitled, "Campus Sexual Violence," "Regular alcohol consumption dramatically increases young women's willingness to engage in casual sex." The violence highly happens in friendships and dating relationships, and the offender intently uses date rape drugs as a strategy to soften victim's awareness of the attack. Research of National Women's Study states that there are "24,4% of offenders were strangers. 21.9% were husbands. 19.5% were boyfriends. 9.8% were other relatives. 9.8% were friends. 14.6% were other nonrelatives" (Savino et al. 15). Toward the song's content, after the harassment, the roommates are freed of silent suffering and let the trauma slowly bury insider them. The quote states, "Till it happens to you, you won't know how I feel" (Lady Gaga). It considers a problematic concept in which the girls believe that it is vulnerable, ashamed, and unacceptable. The pattern of their issues unconsciously raises because they cover their anxiety disorders and builds up the layers of fear to the inside. The song details, "Till your world burns and crashes/ Till you are at the end, the end of your rope/ Till you are standing in my shoes, I don't wanna hear nothing from you" (Lady Gaga). The victims refuse assistance from others and live with the turmoil hidden inside them. It is worrying that they choose to hide their feeling and keep the problem in place rather than tell the truth. In reality, the outcome of rape might lead survivors to fail to deal with negative responses such as depression, mental health disorder, or shock and even go through the possibility of suicide. In this regard, Lady Gaga manifests, "Cause when you fall, you gotta get up/ You gotta get up and move on." The repetition of the phrase "you gotta get up" proclaims the singer's concern, sympathy, and encouragement to the girl's situation. Her lyrics suggest the attempt to support and persuade sexually abused survivors to cope with their panic attacks and to open the onset of their new life. The severe consequence of sexual violence gets more complex that parallels the rising of its case. The only solution to soften the issue is to speak out the truth. For example, the song's victims now escape the pain and reclaim the normal life by accepting that fact and telling the truth. Within the song's powerful message, viewers should put themselves into sexual assault victim's position to understand the essence of preventing and ending sexual assault.
Sexual assault can happen to everyone, so it is essential to develop an awareness and take significant action to fight back against it. In the article entitled CALCASA Launches #BoldMoves: A Multimedia Campaign to Provide People with a Roadmap to Prevent Sexual Assault, Sandra Henriquez observes, "The prevalence leads to a perception that sexual assault is inevitable. But, we know that it is not, we know that violence is preventable, and we know that every person has a role to play in creating a society which is free from sexual violence." The nation develops the number of anti-sexual organizations such as Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network to aid the victim and support people to take proactive steps to prevent sexual assault. Unless nothing happens, the involved cases will substantially increase, and its impact will be more complicated. Noteworthily, Rihanna and Lady Gaga are both celebrities who experienced the childhood sexual attacks, and these songs were their hope to share and alert all people regardless of their genders, ages, or social status to the danger of the situation. The answer to the problem lies in actions of individuals and society as a whole.
The two songs "Man Down" by Rihanna and "Till It Happens To You" by Lady Gaga carry on the concern of sexual assaults and its negative influences on the victims. Sexual assault can happen anytime and anywhere, and everyone has the potential of being a rape victim. In the article written by Thomas E. Baker and James C. Roberts entitled, Rape (forensics), they state, "rape is one of the most underreported crimes in the United States poses special problems for investigators as well as for attempts to prevent this crime and to collect data on its prevalence" (Baker and Roberts, "Rape (forensics)"). It is never the sufferer's fault, and the perpetrators must be responsible to justice for their offensive conduct. To reduce the risk of future harm, everyone should understand their role in raising public awareness. It is essential to learn how to approach the situation and stay alert if something is not right. The equitable society builds on the ending of sexual assault.