Community members explore how to end pattern of sexual assault

Community organizer Dayna Long hopes to host more events to end the stigma associated with rape culture and sexual assault. 

Image By: Kaitlyn Veto

Community organizer Dayna Long met with area residents Monday to reflect on the “Take Back the Bike Path” protest that took place just over two weeks ago.

The meeting, largely held to receive feedback from the public, continued a discourse on the recent highly debated topic of sexual assault and rape culture.

Long, creator of the “Take Back the Bike Path” march, which amassed over 1,000 protesters, is now focusing on how to turn a protest into a movement and continue the conversation around prevalent assault.

Stressing the need to go beyond the “Band-Aid fixes,” such as clearing the brush from the bike path and implementing a police patrol, Long spoke of the need to look at the bigger picture surrounding rape culture and victim blaming.

“I heard a lot of people saying things like ‘If she hadn’t been on the bike path at this hour of the night, that never would have happened,’” Long said. “We can do better than that ... We should be teaching that it’s never a woman’s fault. It’s never a person’s fault they were raped. It’s always on the rapist.”

One in four undergraduate female students reported experiencing sexual misconduct in some way, according to the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct that featured data from UW-Madison.

Many people are uneducated about the presence of rape culture and the frequency that sexual assaults happen in the community, Long said.

“There are a lot of people in our community who don’t know about rape in its usual form,”Long stated, referring to the reality that most cases of sexual assault are not as violently brutal as the incident that took place on the Capitol bike path.

Due to the assault’s severity, it is currently under investigation as an attempted homicide.

“[People] are less concerned about it,” Long continued. “We don’t have a march every time someone is raped in Madison. People don’t even know how prevalent rape is in our community. We have a lot of educating we can continue to do.”

Currently, Long and other community organizers are discussing a number of next steps, including a potential panel of speakers to educate the public on these issues of sexual assault and rape culture.

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