A new social experiment has driven home the point that anyone can be a rapist.
Studies show that two-thirds of rape victims know their attackers and 22 percent of imprisoned rapists report being married, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
To demonstrate how rapists often don’t fit the stereotypical "villain" profile, YouTube star Yousef Saleh Erakat arranged a controversial social experiment in a public men’s bathroom.
The YouTuber typically organizes more lighthearted pranks (he once kneeled over in yoga pants to show how men objectify women in tight clothing), but this time he took a serious approach.
Erakat recorded a woman screaming for help and a door slamming against a wall to simulate the sounds of a sexual attack. He then played the recording in the public restroom to see how strangers would react.
Those who were brave enough to peek into the stall from which the sounds were emanating were greeted with a mirror and a haunting message which read: "This is what a rapist could look like."
Interspersed within the bathroom scenes, a rape survivor shares her harrowing story.
The woman, whose face is concealed in the film, tells how she was sexually assaulted on her 13th birthday in a public restroom by a cousin she "looked up to."
She says she blamed herself for years, and thought she deserved to be attacked, after no one came to help her when they heard her cries.
Erakat has gotten both support and backlash for his unconventional PSA, but has stood by his message: Rapists don’t fit a neat and clean profile, and we're better equipped to protect victims if we acknowledge this fact.
"The mirror was saying, 'Look at how you look in this mirror. A rapist could look EXACTLY like you.' Meaning, it could be anyone. No matter what they look like or what they struggle with they are capable of rape," Erakat tweeted. "And yes, same goes with 'terrorist, murderer, thief' so on and so forth. These labels don't have faces. They don't have characteristics. They don't have color, language, beliefs etc. It could be an everyday civilian, JUST LIKE YOU."
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.