As if Donald Trump’s comments about women were not sufficient enough, the defenders of his comments and actions show just how clouded the American perspective is about the scope of sexual assault.
The defenses in the aftermath of Trump’s sexist comments in 2005 featured an echoing and endless refrain of “Let’s focus on the more important issues at hand.” In his apology video, Trump managed to get through eight sentences of half-hearted remorse before stating, “Let’s be honest, we’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today.”
New York Mayor and Team Trump captain Rudy Giuliani defended Trump’s comments to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press by saying, “He’s very apologetic about it and wants to move on to what’s going to be really important 30 days from now.”
And what could possibly be more important? For Trump and Giuliani, this ranges from taxes to military budgets to mysteriously disappearing emails. But the biggest war Trump wants America to wage is not against sexual assault, but against radical Islamic terrorism. One would assume the biggest threat to Americans would be the one affecting the greatest amount of people, right?
These statistics deal in a decidedly Western-centric view of Islamic terrorism, but from 1993 to 2016, there were roughly 10,500 deaths or injuries on American soil as a result of Islamic terrorist attacks, including Sept. 11.
Each year, an average of 288,820 American individuals over the age of 12 are sexually assaulted. This means that sexual assault affects 27 1/2 times the amount of people yearly that have ever been directly affected by a terrorist attack in the United States.
As of 2016, a rough total of 60,000 Americans were either killed or wounded in the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan. The average amount of Americans sexually assaulted per year is still five times greater than this number.
A recent Huffington Post article disputes the Pentagon’s number of wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, estimating this number at 900,000. Operating once again off the annual sexual assault averages, it would only take 3 1/2 years for the average annual number of sexual assault victims to reach and surpass the amount of veterans wounded in two wars over the span of 15 years.
Consider the fact that although 11-20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and 12 percent of Gulf War veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder, “sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than many other events,” according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
It seems pertinent to include some statistics about domestic violence, seeing as Trump has had marital rape allegations leveled at him as well. Each year, an average of 10 million Americans experience physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. To put this in perspective, this number is 6 1/2 greater than the total amount of Americans who served in the Iraq War.
I must clarify at this point that I do not mean to undermine or insult the sacrifices our veterans and soldiers have made for this country. Every life lost or impacted because of terrorism or the casualties of war is important and valued. But it terrifies me to see the yearly impact of sexual assault rival that of three wars. The war on radical Islamic terrorism may have taken a toll on American life, but it is peanuts compared to the scope of sexual assault in the Unites States. The statistics speak for themselves.
But it shouldn’t take a barrage of numbers to convince Americans of the seriousness of sexual assault. Women are already speaking out for themselves about their own experiences with sexual assault. They are often met with criticism and doubt, even though violence and sexual assault against women is clearly not a rarity in the United States.
So what could be more important?
Kelly McCoy, ’17, is the lead design editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at k[email protected]