Commentary: Sexual assault victims should not be at fault

Why are we so prone to making excuses for those who deserve the blame?

I was sitting in the barber chair during my bi-weekly haircut at Perry’s Barbershop in downtown Roseville. Yes, I’m the kid with the poofy hair and bald fade. And, yes, I get a haircut every two weeks.

Barbershop talk is your average “bro” talk – just guys talking about the biggest games and that insane dunk by Lebron James last night. Of course, you always have that one lunatic who believes the mismanaged Sacramento Kings are legit title contenders.

But that’s not what this is about.

You see, my last visit was like none other. For the first time in a barbershop, I got agitated, and it wasn’t because my barber messed up my hairline.

An elderly lady was sitting across from me, waiting for her grandson’s haircut to be finished. She had a thick, Southern accent, and all she did was go on and on about Michigan getting cooked by Ohio State on national television. That lasted until she began talking about big-name athletes accused of things like sexual assault and domestic violence.

Over the past week, her exact words have echoed through my mind nonstop: “I’m a Texas girl, I don’t believe in any of that #Me Too bull. I’m tired of girls not standing up for themselves, just accusing men of these things to get money.”

I was disgusted.

See, it wasn’t until this year that I understood the magnitude of crimes like sexual assault. The pain, suffering and trauma I’ve witnessed numerous friends and loved ones go through are memories instilled deep within me.

So what’s my point?

We still struggle to understand these topics. We’re weeks away from the new year of 2019, and a topic so pertinent over the past several years still remains an area of pure ignorance for certain people.

Some might say she was just an old lady, and her generation doesn’t understand what ours does.

I mean, I’ve heard it from everyone really. “Your generation is the change, Akhil, you guys think differently.”

I think so too … but not entirely.

Over my four years in high school, I’ve noticed this kind of despicable behavior being perpetrated by young men.

This isn’t a generational thing. It’s simply what our society has normalized among young men.

In 2018, I’ve had numerous friends and loved ones open up to me and share their stories.

For all you victims out there, I apologize on behalf of that lady, and the many people who share her unfortunate and ignorant mindset.”

— Akhil Shah

Real victims, real incidents and real assaults which should never be discredited by an old lady at a barbershop, who claims women can simply defend themselves in those traumatic times.

For all you victims out there, I apologize on behalf of that lady, and the many people who share her unfortunate and ignorant mindset.

To anyone who’s reading this who fails to understand why someone can’t simply stand up for themselves when assaulted, let me clarify.

For starters, there’s a false assumption among victims and predators that sexual assault is limited to unwanted touching of any nature.

According to the United States Department of Justice, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

From words and actions to comments and touching, sexual assault extends to a wide range of situations.

What remains most appalling to me is that victims fail to understand the gravity of sexual assault when they are in that type of situation.

I’m no psych major, but if I were to sit down and look into individual accounts of sexual assault and the disheartening details associated with each individual account, it only makes sense that it’s something that a victim would not want to even remember, let alone accept.

The excuses associated with sexual assault are astounding.

No longer should immaturity or ignorance be used to defend anyone with the audacity to harass or assault an individual.

I’m a firm believer in everyone being born with a moral compass. We know what’s right from wrong. We know what we shouldn’t do.

I’ll cut right to the chase – typically it’s males indulging in this type of negative behavior, while females end up as victims.

I don’t mean to discredit any gender, or anyone who’s experienced this type of traumatic experience. Any gender can be a victim of sexual assault.

So regardless of some sickening young men or even grown men not knowing the full seriousness of what they might be doing when it comes to their negative actions and words relating to women, I think they know it’s wrong.

It’s quite off-putting, actually.

How can any male feel as if he can demean a female to any extent he wishes?

It’s no mistake or accident. It’s not something you can undo. No matter how sorry you might be, at the end of the day all you created was trauma and fear within an innocent person who meant no harm to you.”

— Akhil Shah

I’m not sure what the answer to that question is. There can’t be one. There’s no excuse for sexual assault.

Anyone who has degraded women in this manner should be nothing less than ashamed of themselves.

Forget about popularity, athletics or how smart you are. Frankly, none of that matters whatsoever when it comes to sexual assault.

To have the audacity of taking control over someone’s body in any way to satisfy the sickening needs of an excessively flawed mentality is someone who deserves to be hit with karma for the rest of his life.

It’s no mistake or accident. It’s not something you can undo. No matter how sorry you might be, at the end of the day all you created was trauma and fear within an innocent person who meant no harm to you.

To the lady at the barbershop – this is what sexual assault creates. This is the magnitude and gravity of the loathsome actions some men partake in.

We as a society have the ability to hold each other accountable.

How much longer will we allow the demeaning actions some men exhibit to be justified by being raised wrong or simply being immature?

I’m still immature. I’m 17 years old. I grew up in a broken family where the women close to me were never respected or treated how they should be. Regardless, I still know what’s right from wrong.

To all victims – your voice matters, so let your stories be heard.

There will always be that lady at the barbershop who doubts you. And there will always be someone who questions you.

Don’t let them stop you from sharing your story, for the good in this world is waiting to empower you on your journey.