Don’t Be a Victim, Be an Advocate

Dont Be a Victim, Be an Advocate

Written by McKenna Orrico, Features Editor

I was feeling confident one day so I wore a tighter shirt and leggings (in dress code) instead of my usual baggy sweatpants and sweatshirt. As I was walking down the hallway to my class, a group of boys started following behind me and started catcalling me, saying things to me that shouldn’t be said to anyone, especially in a school setting. I walked away as fast as I could into my classroom and burst into tears. I think it’s safe to say that I will never wear anything other than baggy clothes to school ever again.” – Paige D (Female)


This happened at homecoming last year. I went to homecoming with a group of good friends. This one boy asked me to go with him but I said no because I was already going with my friends. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when homecoming happened he was there with his friends he came up to me and we talked but I then tried going back to my friends but he continued to follow me. He ended up grabbing my butt I pushed him off of me but then he kissed me. I pushed him off and ended up leaving homecoming. He messaged me later that night with inappropriate sayings” -Anonymous (Female)


Being cat called.”-Anonymous (Male)


I was sitting in class when a “friend” of mine came up behind me and starting touching my back. it took me a second to realize what he was doing until he started to try and unhook my bra strap. I turned around and told him to stop and he laughed it off. ” -Anonymous (Female)


The testimonies above are just a few responses that were taken from a survey I conducted on April 5th. This survey asked students from all over the community about sexual harassment experiences while in school. Their responses demonstrated how common it is to be sexually harassed by peers they see every single day, nine months out of the year. School is supposed to be a safe place, and yet it was made dreadful by people they’re told to collaborate with on a daily basis. Every day they have to be reminded of how they were taken advantage of because of something they wore or something they did. There is no good reason to sexually assault someone. Nothing someone could wear or do gives anyone the right to take that piece of humanity away from them. They have to live with what that person did to them for the rest of their life.

Sexual assault is a topic that is not addressed in school enough. 11% of all students experience a form of sexual assault. That is about 1 in every 9 students. When schools do talk about sexual assault, there are people who mock it which completely takes away from the point. The school puts on those assemblies because they are trying to educate students about sexual assault, but you cannot educate someone who is not willing to learn. Students are never going to learn about the reality and severity of assault if they refuse to listen.  Even when the school is teaching us about sexual assault, they do not teach us about what to do in that situation or the effect it has on the victim, taking away the seriousness providing those who don’t care with a reason to mock it. When schools only rarely educate on sexual assault, it can be portrayed as a taboo topic. The longer it is not talked about, the more normalized harassment will become. Sexual assault is not a taboo topic; it may be uncomfortable, but those uncomfortable conversations are what is will  lead to progress. 

Sexual assault is something that happens to both men and women. As a society, people create this false reality that men cannot be victims of sexual assault. According to, an organization dedicated to helping male sexual assault victims, says that 1 in 6 men are victims of sexual assault or harassment. Although organizations like this exist, society has not created an environment where men can come forward. Out of all my respondents from my survey, only one male came forward, anonymously. He did not feel like he could report his sexual assault. Men get sexually assaulted. They may get assaulted at a lower rate than women, but how accurate is that number? Because society tells men that if they get sexually assaulted they are less masculine or invalid, the majority of them do not report. The longer this narrative that they are not assaulted is pushed, the worse this is going to become. 

 Not only does society not give men room to come forward, but they actively try to suppress all victims. Out of all the respondents that I had, only two individuals said they reported it, and only one of them said that disciplinary actions were brought upon their assailant. Everyone else felt like they could not report, and their abuser got to dehumanize other people. When an assault is reported and not reported, it gives their abuser a sense of confidence that they can keep getting away with this. Society has created an environment where it is acceptable to run the defense of the accused and plead that their life not be ruined for one mistake they made. They dehumanized another person in the worst way, and now they are pleading for some mercy because of a “mistake” they made. Because of the “mistake” that they made, the victim has to live the rest of their life with what they did. 

The people who came forward for this article are not everyone. I encourage you to come forward and share your story because the more people that come forward and share their experience, will minimize the normalization and you will no longer be just a victim.When you start showing them that you are strong and you will not let this define you, is the moment when change starts to happen. The problem cannot get resolved if people are not held accountable, and we do not fight for a safe school environment. No one should ever be catcalled, touched inappropriately, told vulgar and inappropriate things because of what they are wearing or doing anywhere, but especially in a school setting. There is no good enough reason to ever violate someone in that manner. There is no good enough reason for someone to feel that they have the right to take advantage of another human being. School should not be a place where people have to worry about being sexually assaulted, and this should not be a place where this is acceptable.

If you are considering reporting your sexual assault or harassment, please go to a trusted adult or your school counselor. Keeping this to yourself not only hurts you but hurts others. Your counselor will not only guide you through the emotional process, but will take action against your abuser. Don’t just be a victim, be an advocate.


Telephone hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Online Sexual Assault Hotline

Your school counselor 



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AAUW. “Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School – AAUW : Empowering Women Since 1881.” AAUW, 2 Apr. 2020,

AAUW. “Sexual Misconduct in Schools – AAUW : Empowering Women Since 1881.” AAUW, 18 June 2020,

Gordon, Claire. “By the Numbers: Sexual Violence in High School.” Al Jazeera America, 14 Nov. 2014,

Lockport Township High School. Policy Manual,

Long, Cindy. “The Secret of Sexual Assault in Schools.” NEA, 4 Dec. 2017,

O’Malley, Tim. Personal interview. 9 April 2021

Orrico, McKenna. “Sexual Harassment in a School Setting” Survey. 5 April 2021

RAINN. “Sexual Assault of Men and Boys.” RAINN,

Smith, Deborah. “Harassment in the Hallways.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Sept. 2001,

Stein, Nan, and Bruce Taylor. “Stop Pretending Sexual Assault Can’t Happen in Your School (Opinion).” Education Week, Education Week, 3 Dec. 2020,