On April 16, 2007 I attended an Aurora Center sponsored screening of the movie Speak at the Oak Street Theatre. The event was organized to raise awareness about sexual assault. Sexual assault is any sexual contact (including, but not limited to sexual intercourse) when such contact is achieved without consent; or with the use of force, coercion, deception, or threat. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a huge issue that needs to be addressed more seriously at the high school and college level. According to the U.S. National Institute of Justice, 1 in 5 college women will be raped or the victim of an attempted rape in college. Contrary to popular belief, men aren't exempt from this form of abuse. Approximately 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted/abused before the age of 16.
I found the movie to be very intense. The main character, Melinda, was a high school freshman who was raped at a party the summer prior. The plot followed her first year of high school, having to look her rapist in the eye every single day and not being able to tell anyone about it. In addition to this, she had lost all of her friends and was basically an outcast at school. At the end of the film, she realized that she couldn't run away from what had happened, she stood up for herself against her rapist, and she was able to open up and talk to her mom about it.
Following the screening was a short discussion led by crisis counselors. They started out by asking for reactions to the film. The first man to speak up brought up how the film really "shook him up". The man had been raped 20 or so years earlier and the film brought him back to his own experience. A high school teacher stood up and addressed how angry it made her that the girl had no one to turn to at school except for a friendly art teacher that helped her to open up. The teacher talked about how sick it makes her to think about how some of the warning signs are blatantly obvious at her own school and very rarely is anything done about it. Another audience member to speak up was a young woman who talked about how she had experienced something very much like in the movie and how it had taken her two years until she could tell anyone about what had happened.
This event was incredibly enlightening. Other topics of discussion included how we could help raise awareness about rape and help our friends and family members that have experienced sexual assault. We discussed ways that we could help rape victims to open up and how incredibly important it is for rape victims to be able to tell their stories. After attending this event, I know that we, as a society, need to join together to fight rape because there is power in numbers, and any form of sexual assault is not okay.