Recent crime report leaves an assaulting reality

Jackie Mantey

It’s 4:30 a.m., and I never expected my Thursday night to end like this.

I received the e-mail many of you did: A woman had been reportedly sexually assaulted in the area. When news like that floats inconspicuously into your inbox, you can literally feel a wave of fear mixed with reality slide through all your body. “How could this happen? Kent seems so safe.”

When this happens, I also want to stand on a rooftop and scream, “One in four college women have been raped! One in four! One in f****ing four!” I’ve always known the women of Kent were not immune to this commonly accepted statistic, but everything seems all too real right now.

Is that an excuse to forget tomorrow? Sure, reality is a hard pill to swallow, but the reality of being a victim of a sexual assault can’t be compared to it — it’s not a pill. It’s a lifelong surgery.

This column’s purpose isn’t to lay blame on a woman, a party, a campus or ourselves. The only ones at fault are the criminals who did it. Its purpose is to tell you that we all have the propensity to do something.

It’s 4:30 a.m. and my friend and I just called the cops.

An airhorn sounded outside my apartment building. Any other day I would have shrugged it off and thought “party on!” or shut the window. But today wasn’t any other day. The airhorn sounded identical to a rape airhorn my mom bought me before I went to live in D.C. this summer. It could have meant nothing. It could have meant everything. So we called, and maybe we can sleep a little better tonight.

The hard lesson of a victim’s pain is that getting an escort to walk us ladies home isn’t impeding our independence. The lesson is to take off your iPod, be aware of your surroundings and look out for your peers. The lesson is that red flags go up for a reason, and it isn’t an overreaction to call the cops when something makes you nervous. The lesson is that rape and sexual assault happen more than we will ever know.

Who knows, in the morning, I may feel like this column is a bit over-dramatic, but I think that would just illustrate the problem — every passing day could be an opportunity to refuse to let such a violent culture continue, or every passing day could be an opportunity for complacency. The latter is what all of us have the tendency to fall into, and it’s almost scarier than the crime.

It’s not that we don’t want to change the world, but watching images from the safety of our homes on TV and the Internet of terrible things happening has the propensity to make us feel numb or in disbelief when something actually does happen (or gets reported) in our neighborhood. Even the good images we feed ourselves help us escape from the uncomfortable reality that these injustices are still happening.

No one’s to blame for that, really. It’s once again just being more aware when you slip into that unconsciousness of reality. Hell, I know I do it all the time .

But then again — it’s 4:30 a.m., and the only thing running through my head are the numbers one and four.

Jackie Mantey is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].