Desolation.Terror.Shameful.He was all these words and so much more, but he wasn’t always seen that way. To you, love and trust were a few words from the extensive list you could use to describe him. That all changed that one night. That night that shook your world, like an earthquake, when you least expected it. He has been there all your life, but you never noticed him. Like a snake, he slithers undetected, waiting for his opportunity to harass – to prey on his chosen innocent victim; an ill-fated, unfortunate soul, who couldn’t have ever predicted this would happen – at least she didn’t expect it would happen to her. The roses in her life have now perished. They no longer danced to the tune of the gentle, scented breeze. Now, they lie on the floor in a monotonous world. The butterflies, once a vision of beauty, are no longer full of life, but instead filled with feelings of despair. Feelings of isolation and destruction. Her world was no longer flooded with the colours of the rainbow; he had stolen them, leaving her in a lifeless black-and-white world, clawing at her and fuelling her self-destructive nature. He was rape.Good Morning St. Mary’s University students, My name is “17.7 million women have been raped since 1998”. My name is liar until proven truthful. My name is no one believes what I say, and no matter what happened it’s somehow my fault. My name is rape culture allows rapists to walk free… As seniors, I ask you: do you really know what rape is? Have you ever thought about its impact? Did you ever realise that you contributed to rape culture? According to the U.S Department of Justice, rape is “the penetration .. of the vagina or anus with any body part .. without the consent of the victim.” Focus on the last part: without the consent. This means that if the person says no, even if they first said yes, you must immediately stop all sexual advances. If you don’t, that is rape and you’re honestly a worthless scumbag. If you were ever to rape somebody, then congratulations on ruining their life. Congratulations on stealing every bit of happiness and replacing it with a feeling of emptiness. Congratulations on turning this innocent individual into a statistic that is continuously increasing every year. Most importantly, congratulations on showing the world how appalling and inhumane you are. I’m sure it feels great to know that you’ve ruined their life; that you contributed to the fact that every 98 seconds, a woman is sexually assaulted! The best part for you is that you’ll probably get away with it; you can thank rape culture for that! According to the Oxford dictionary, rape culture is “a society whose .. social attitudes have the effect of normalising… sexual assault”. Rape culture is the consequence of every rape joke you said and every “locker talk” before practice. It’s the consequence of every time you blamed the victim. By default, you stood by the rapist and killed a part of the victim’s hope that justice would be served. Because of rape culture, it’s incredibly difficult for victims to speak up. What’s the point if no one believes us? What’s the point if everyone blames us? I know this feeling from personal experience. In July 2014, I decided to clear my head from studying by having a few drinks at a party. Back then, I knew little about sex, other than what I learnt in biology. I never thought I would ever get raped; I lived in a bubble of naivety that ultimately left me unarmed when I needed to defend myself the most. Out of nowhere, I was grabbed by someone and pushed into the bathroom. I tried to scream but I couldn’t. As he unzipped his pants, I froze as I realized what was about to happen. My whole body went numb – I couldn’t think. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t feel anything. When he was done, he zipped his pants up and left like nothing happened, like what he did was completely normal. Little did he know that when he left, he took my dignity and self-love. Emotions flooded me as I was hit with the reality. I was angry. Ashamed. Humiliated. Afraid. I no longer felt like I could trust anybody – it was me against the world. Multiple thoughts came to me. What if I stayed home and studied? What if I didn’t drink? Was it my fault like just every other rape victim blasted on the news? It took 2 years to finally send my rapist to jail for a measly 2 months. To this day, I am haunted by that night and the thought that he is somewhere out there roaming free… Similarly, Brock Turner raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster and was sentenced to 6 months and released after only 3 months. Our justice system believes that is equal to the forever trauma suffered by the victim. Is that what we have come to? Has our society truly become so insensitive and ignorant? I hope, for the sake of all women, that will change. Believe it or not, your university has contributed to rape culture with its fucked up frosh cheer, which is: “Y is for your sister. O is for oh so tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.” Honestly, that sent shivers up my spine. Who in their right mind would think this is okay to say? What if the girl was your sister or your mom? Would you still condone this chant? I guarantee most, if not all of you here are outraged at that thought. Now think how freshmen feel when they hear the song. Do you think they feel safe? Protected? Supported? I don’t think so. You all are better than supporting rape culture. You all are better than that frosh cheer. As a community, you should always support each other. You must feel that when one person’s safety is violated, everyone’s own safety is violated. I believe you have the power to make a difference – to rise above the norm and demand a change. You must raise awareness on rape when no one else will. You must stand by victims when no one else will. You must give them a voice to speak up against this atrocious crime. Remember always, as Louis O’Neill once said, “they are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until .. proven honest”. Thank you.