35 Being a Friend to Someone Who Suffered ~ Nuhamin Wolde
By Nuhamin Wolde, Montgomery College, Maryland
“I stand at the center of a world that needs to reduce sexual violence to women and girls.”
Women and girls face many challenges, but none are as harmful as sexual violence. Throughout my middle and high school career, I have been close to four girls that were in some way, shape or form victims of sexual violence.Throughout my middle and high school career, I have been close to four girls that were in some way, shape, or form victims of sexual violence. In middle school, I became close to the new girl, and we quickly got along as we lived near each other and would often walk to and from school. We would talk about everything from our dreams to our fears, but one day, she disclosed something very personal to me as we walked home. Her stepdad raped her. We were in 8th grade, and I had never met someone who had experienced any form of sexual violence, so I had no idea what I should say to her, and all I could do was hug her. She told me that was one of the reasons she moved here as she couldn’t bear to live in the same place as her rapist. When she told me that she had not received any justice for this horrible thing that had scarred her, I was livid as I thought about the fact that she had to live with this trauma for the rest of her life while he walked away scot-free. I became close with another girl in high school; she was older, but we had so much in common, so it was easy to get close. While on the school bus, we were on the phone having a regular conversation, but that quickly changed as we started talking about a mutual friend who might have been a victim, and she revealed to me that she was a victim. I had never felt more helpless than I did at that moment as I couldn’t say or do anything to relieve any of the pain she had gone through. Like my other friend, her attacker was someone she knew very well, and he wasn’t punished for his actions. Their stories are just a few shared; thousands of women and men are survivors of sexual violence, and their assailants are walking free while the survivors have to live with this for the rest of their lives.
From the United Nations Video Library ~ “The United Nations monitors and reports conflict-related sexual violence” June 2020 (5:59)
Video Summary and Quotes: This video looks at the UNs work towards ending conflict-related sexual violence against men, women, and children, along with providing support for survivors.
“But I am also a survivor of rape myself. You have to understand after being raped, one feels like being dead inside one’s own flesh.”
Nobody will understand the survivors as much as this woman as she is a survivor herself, so she can connect with them more than anyone else. The second part of her sentence caught my attention as it shows how a small piece of someone dies once they have gone through some form of sexual violence.
“But beyond the act of sexual violence, we must also hold to those account responsible.”
Often when survivors come forward with their stories, their assailant is not punished for their crime, so holding these people accountable is a huge step in preventing future offenses.
My topic is sexual violence against women, and this video illustrates how this is a worldwide issue. Survivors who live in different parts of the world or third-world countries have more difficulty seeking or getting help than ones from western countries, so it is vital to bring light to this issue so that there are fewer victims.
A Strong Institution Can Help ~ Joyful Heart Foundation
Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on the critically acclaimed tv show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, became an ally for thousands of survivors who saw her character fight against abusers and rapists. On 2004, Hargitay created Joyful Heart Foundation with the idea to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.”
“It is never a survivor’s fault.”
Society often blames the victim when they decide to come forward with their story, especially when it is a woman as people always ask, “what were you wearing” to make it seem as though it’s her fault that someone chose to harm her.
Joyful Heart Foundation is strong and sustainable. One of their most significant achievements is the End the Backlog, which aims to fight against rape kit blockage by working with federal, state, local, survivors, and other organizations. The foundation has also created a documentary, “I am Evidence,” which illustrates how many survivors don’t get justice due to the lack of rape kits tested. This foundation supports my topic because they aim to help victims or survivors of sexual violence.