This past week has been hard for many people around our nation, especially sexual assault & domestic violence victims, survivors, and women in general. There’s been an increased amount of attention on this subject on the news and social media due to an allegation that has been brought forward against a judge who has been nominated for the supreme court.
I am sure you are all very familiar with this whole debacle. Please keep in mind as you are reading this that the terms “victims” and “survivors” are referring to women, men, and children as females are NOT the only ones who are assaulted. Also, it’s important to remember that 1 in every 4 girls, and 1 in every 6 boys, are assaulted before the age of 18.
If you’re reading this than you likely follow my blog and already know that I am a survivor. I haven’t written about it on my blog in a while as I have been focused on healing and moving forward with my new life. For me, that means staying busy and doing all I can to keep it from my thoughts (yes I realize that’s unhealthy, but everyone deals differently). However, I have been watching this story unfold intently, including reading the news articles that are published as well as watching it live with each session.
Of course, I have many thoughts on this; some I have posted on my Facebook page. Honestly, there have been many comments made that have really made me question the sanity of the human race in general and then there have also been many comments of people who have come forward with encouraging support that I have still managed to maintain just an ounce of faith in human decency.
This situation, for most survivors, has not been about politics at all. It’s been solely about a woman who has been victimized at a point in her life, like us, bravely coming forward to tell her story and watching to see how it is handled by the highest ranking authorities in our nation; to see what message will be sent to those who are out there now too afraid to come forward as well as future victims.
It has been about learning whether or not our country has evolved enough to no longer look a woman in the eyes and say “we hear you, but we don’t care”; which has been the sole underlying message to victims since the beginning of time.
As we have spoken up in support of this woman during this time, we have been confronted with the same old adage that those of us whom have come forward at some time are already so familiar with; “if it were true, she would’ve come forward earlier”, “she has no evidence”, “if it were true, she would be able to remember every detail”, “she is just trying to ruin his reputation”, “she must have been drunk”, etc. I could go on and on with the victim blaming comments that I have seen and heard.
Unfortunately, this question of WHY victims wait to report is not uncommon. I say unfortunately because it is 2018 and I had high hopes that by now, the general population would be much better educated on this topic. There are many articles on this online along with statistics.
It’s very easy to find the thousands of reasons why victims often wait to report. I am not going to list them here; however for the sake of those that still have a hard time comprehending this, you can go to this site and you will see statistical data which includes why many victims do not come forward www.rainn.org. As for why survivors do not remember every detail, google “why survivors don’t remember” and you will find many articles and studies on this topic as well.
WHY DO YOU SAY YOU BELIEVE HER?
Here’s what those who are upset with us don’t understand, “we believe her” doesn’t mean that we believe he is lying. It means we know, from experience, that most victims who come forward do not do so immediately. It means that we know that out of every 1000 sexual assaults, only 310 are reported to the police. It also means that we know, that out of every 1000 reported cases of rape, on average only 13 cases are referred to a prosecutor, and only 7 will lead to a felony conviction. This means that 99% of those who sexually assault someone WALK FREE because they do not feel they have enough evidence in order to prosecute. Does the lack of evidence prove that the assault did not happen? No, it absolutely does not.
It means that we know if everyone in this country told every victim “sorry we don’t believe you” when they came forward – they would NEVER come forward. The number and rate of sexual assaults in this country would soar. It would be accepted as normal and ok. There would be complete chaos as every woman, man, and child would be an easy target and no one would ever come forward to have the scum who do this charged because they would know that no one will believe them.
“We believe her” means she is innocent until proven otherwise. It means she deserves to be heard and she deserves to have her allegations investigated. It means that HER WORD is EQUAL to HIS until one is proven to be lying. It means we have been her! It means we have friends that have been her! It means we have daughters who have been her! It means we have sisters that have been her!
“We believe her” is about EQUALITY.
BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR SONS AND HUSBANDS?
I am a Mother of 3. I have 2 boys and 1 girl. I’ve seen SO many women and men saying things like “but what about our sons and husbands? This means anyone could accuse them of anything and they would be believed over them. It could ruin their lives.” Here’s the thing, this has always been true and what’s happening in the Senate doesn’t change that now.
Anyone in this country can be accused of anything at any time as well as be sued over anything at any time. Have there been cases of false sexual assault allegations? Absolutely, but not just from women. In addition, the number of false allegations in this country are between 2-10% only whereas 98% have been proven to be true.
As I mentioned before, approximately 99% of those who assault others walk free. The primary people who are suffering in this country are the ones who have never received any justice. Who do you think they are? Should you be more concerned for your sons than your daughters?
Should you be more concerned for the reputation of the people your children may one day come forward and accuse? Is a reputation more important to you than justice? Is a damaged reputation more painful than living with PTSD, anxiety, or depression from being assaulted?
Let me tell you something else you may not have thought of – those who come forward ALSO have their reputations smeared, just for opening their mouths. Have you seen what’s been done to the woman in this recent case? Her families been threatened and had to go into hiding. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Do you know how many women and children live in hiding in women’s shelters across this country?
A reputation can be healed, but the damage done by being a victim of assault never truly heals regardless of how many years go by.
Preventing sexual violence starts with what we teach our children, especially our boys. Boys and Men have a unique responsibility as it is almost as offensive to know that sexual abuse has happened and not say anything about it, as it is to be responsible for the actual assault.
Teach your sons and daughters, from the time that they can understand words, that no one has the right to put their hands on them without their permission. Talk openly and directly with your children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age appropriate terms. Teach them that regardless of what someone tells them, they can come forward to tell you about anything that happens to them without fear of judgement by you or retaliation from anyone who hurts them. Teach them to treat everyone of the opposite sex with respect and dignity. Teach them that they must ask permission before touching another human being in a sexual way and marriage doesn’t negate this concept. Teach them that no one has the right to control them. Teach them that they are responsible for their own actions and actions have consequences.
Teach them that we are all equals and no one is better than anyone else in this world.