Recently, I came across an infographic (pictured below) that was being shared on Facebook in honor of shark week. It was interrupting a slew of the classic red, white and blue pictures that signify the dawning of the 4th of July, so it was a stark contrast as I scrolled through my newsfeed. At first, I didn’t know what to make of it; the pink color, the information it was so accurately displaying. I thought it was a little extreme, and then it hit me like a full speed freight train – it needed to be extreme.
In today’s society, we are so desensitized to the violence we see daily. Whether it be on the news, on the newest episode of Law and Order: SVU, or read in the newest thriller book that topped the weekly list. We watch people commit acts of harm and barely give it a passing glance, but that needs to end. As a survivor of sexual assault, it is now more important than ever that I use my voice and urge society to face the harsh reality that this picture illustrates.
As humans, we are innately fearful of creatures and animals that are larger, stronger and more powerful than we are. However, we never admit that these creatures and animals are sometimes other humans. In fact, we focus on other species because it’s easier to admit our fear for them than to admit we are afraid of what some humans are capable of. Just as Scooby Doo once taught us, sometimes the real monsters are not monsters at all but instead humans.
Yes, sharks are terrifying. I am terribly afraid of them and just about every other creature in the ocean and will barely enter past my knees should I ever find myself on the coast. But this isn’t a plausible reasoning to apply to my daily life. After I was attacked, I didn’t leave my home alone, nor did I venture out on the streets at night. Instead, I was paralyzed by the fear that I would see my attacker, that I would be left alone with him again and wouldn’t be able to get away in time. I’m sure this is a feeling experienced by nearly all survivors, one that leaves us feeling powerless and victimized. Sexual assault is becoming a prevalent epidemic in our nation and yet we are not doing everything in our power to help end it.
Instead, we spend millions of dollars creating shows about the predators of the sea, the predators that were never created to hunt us. Instead, we spend our money killing millions of creatures every year because we don’t know how to read their behavior and mindset to accurately predict when a shark attack will occur.
When will society realize that the scariest predators of all are indeed our own species? Instead of spending millions creating shows for Shark Week, why can’t we invest those funds into sexual assault prevention campaigns, into funds that help survivors, or to funds that help fund court cases for survivors who are brave enough to go on trial to get the justice they deserve?
I’m not saying this picture isn’t extreme, because it is. But if it hadn’t been this extreme, would we be having these types of conversations currently? My answer is no, and within that answer, is where society’s problem resides.