DeAndre Levy

DeAndre Levy

*Detroit Lions’ linebacker DeAndre Levy has written a thoughtful essay about sexual assault and the definition of consent in honor of the current Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Levy, who’s played in the NFL for five years, said men need to be active and vocal allies for women by speaking out against sexual violence.

“It’s truly astounding how many awful things that occur in this world because men are afraid of appearing weak,” wrote Levy, 29, in The Players’ Tribune.

Levy described his first encounter with sexual assault during his freshman year of college at The University of Wisconsin-Madison:

One time I heard a group of guys joke about “running a train” on a drunk girl. At the time, my 18-year-old brain didn’t process this as anything bad. Maybe those guys were just engaging in a display of bravado. But what if what they were describing was true?… This speaks to just how toxic and backward the culture around sexual assault still is. I was 18 years old — “man” enough to drive, vote and go to war — but somehow I didn’t have the courage, or the maturity, to see what they were talking about for what it was: a serious crime.

Levy went on to explain why it’s imperative that we teach young men not to rape instead of telling women don’t get raped. “The focus always seems to be on teaching young women how not to get raped and on what steps they can take to ‘stay safe,’” Levy wrote. “But why are we not also focused on educating young men about the definition of consent and what constitutes rape?” adding, “We’re essentially dealing with the problem by telling women to be more careful. And that’s bullsh*t.”

Towards the end of his essay, Levy described why men should always care if a woman is sexually assaulted — whether she’s a friend, family member or stranger.

“Personally, I know and love a woman who was a victim of sexual assault, and I suspect other women in my life have also been the victims of assault,” Levy wrote. “When you approach this issue as a mother’s son, or as a partner, or as a sister’s brother, rather than as a bro, it looks very different. But it shouldn’t take a personal relationship to stand up for this.”

Click here to read Levy’s full essay at The Players’ Tribune.