This week marks Students Stopping Rape’s annual “It Affects Me” campaign, an annual opportunity for students to reflect on how sexual assault impacts their lives and score a free T-shirt. Female students rarely, if ever, have trouble identifying how sexual assault impacts their lives. Just ask a woman about how she prepares to go out over the weekend, and you’ll probably hear something about always traveling with friends, carrying pepper spray or any other action designed to prevent an assault from happening. Men, on the other hand, don’t always have to ask themselves, “If I pass out on this stranger’s couch, will I be assaulted?” or, “If I walk home alone tonight, will someone rape me?”

The impact of sexual assault on everyday life simply isn’t as apparent for men as it is for women. This letter is really directed at men, just to give them a little insight into how rape affects us all. First, there’s a common misconception that only women are survivors of sexual assault. The truth is that about one in five men are survivors of sexual assault. Few ever talk about their experience as a survivor with a counselor, let alone friends or family, perhaps because of the trauma of reliving the experience or for fear of being ostracized by their peers. We all probably know at least one male survivor.

Next, most men have mothers, sisters or at least friends who are women. When one in four women are survivors of at least an attempted rape, we all probably have several women in our lives that are survivors of sexual assault. If you care about and respect the women in your life, maybe you could speak up the next time a friend calls a woman a bitch because she speaks her mind or challenge them if they say a woman was raped because she drank too much or because of what she was wearing. It’s NEVER a victim’s fault they were assaulted. I certainly don’t want anyone saying those things to or about the women I love.

Finally, sexual assault affects how men are perceived. When we think of that specter hiding in the bushes waiting to jump out and attack us, we usually think of a man. When we think of person using a date rape drug to take advantage of someone at a party, we usually think of a male perpetrator and a female victim. I personally feel uncomfortable being constantly perceived as a potential predator. I would like to be able offer to walk a female friend home without her worrying that I might assault her or to offer someone a drink without her fearing it’s drugged.

So when you pick up a free “It Affects Me” T-shirt this week, think about the intricate ways in which sexual assault influences your life. It’s not just a women’s issue. Sexual assault affects us all. It will take all of us to end it.