“April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month”

TW: This blog post includes the mention of sexual assault.

It’s April. Which means that this month, for the 19th year in a row, advocates all across the country and across the world will observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). You can read more about SAAM’s history here.

According to national data compiled by RAINN, 23.1% of undergraduate female students will be victims of sexual violence on college campuses. Lest we believe this is an issue which affects only women, it’s important to note that 5.4% of male students will also be victims of sexual violence during their time at a university.

And if you believe that our good Christian campus is without incidents such as these, it pains me deeply to inform you that such is not the case. One look at the Annual Campus Safety Report proves otherwise. My intention in sharing this data with you is not to incite fear. However, as we enter into April, let us do so soberly-- with the awareness that our very campus has contributed to these frightful national statistics.

This month provides us with an opportunity to mourn the fact that sexual assault occurs on our campus and across the country. But we’d be foolish to stop there. We can commit to abolishing both the ideologies which encourage people to commit vile acts against others, and the systems which allow them to get away with doing so. It’s clear that though April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the work doesn’t end when we get to May. There’s still plenty to be done.

For a start, let our community be one which actively seeks justice and healing for all victims, keeping in mind the fact that some may unfortunately face more obstacles in reporting incidents (LGBTQ+ students, for example). I hope that when we return to Biola, we’ll perpetually be intentional about fostering a culture of charity. One in which we empathize without judgement or discrimination; one in which we refuse to view our neighbors as objects.

We serve a God who is kind. A God who loves. A God who weeps for the victim. Who loathes injustice. We cannot claim to be His people if we do not strive to embody His attributes, especially when it comes to how we respond to Sexual Assault. May our kindness abound. May our love overflow. May we weep with the victim. May we loathe injustice.

To survivors: You are not to blame. I won’t pretend that I have adequate words to undo the trauma. But know that there are people in your corner when and if you need them. There are resources at your disposal when and if you are ready to access them. You are the most resilient among us. I mourn that you have reason to be.

Let us reject all that does not bring healing.

Let us embrace the God who does.