I’d like to thank Donald Trump. And Bill Clinton, really. I’d like to thank both of them for giving me a reason to finally speak openly.
I can’t get away from two words these days–sexual assault. They are constantly on the news. In my Facebook news feed. In my Twitter stream. And every single time I hear the words I think about myself at 15.
I was listening to the news a little bit ago in the car and someone was saying that women who don’t report sexual assaults at the time that they happened are making it up if they talk about it later. That makes perfect sense…if you have never been sexually assaulted. I mean, if someone broke into your house, you would report it to the police. If someone stole your car, you would report it to the police. If you were sexually assaulted, you would tell SOMEONE.
Actually, no. Most of us don’t. Here are some pretty great reasons to never admit that you have been sexually assaulted.
- No one is going to believe you. It’s your word against his. Even your friends and family won’t believe it because you can’t really prove it. He’s such a nice guy. He’d never do something like that.
- It wasn’t rape. That sounds harsh, but it is the truth. If you weren’t forcibly raped, people don’t consider that anything really “bad” happened to you. Even if it was close, if it wasn’t ACTUAL rape, you don’t really have anything to complain about.
- The person has power over you. If the person who did it has ANY power over you at all (age, political power, money, seniority, a better parking place….) and you tell anyone, you’re probably going to end up in trouble. People with power find ways to retaliate.
- You deserved it. C’mon…boys will be boys. You can’t expect if you lead them on that they aren’t going to take things to the next level. You shouldn’t have worn those clothes or sent those mixed signals. You knew better.
- You’re dirty now. Everyone you tell is going to look at you a little differently, whether they believe you or not. If the authorities find out (the police, your school), they are all going to know and word will spread. God forbid the media find out. You will be branded for life and it isn’t worth the chance.
You don’t believe me about any of the above? Ask someone who has been sexually assaulted if any of those went through their mind.
I could probably find some statistics to try to make you think analytically about this (I’ve heard that nearly 50% of women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives). But statistics shouldn’t be what makes you care about this. If even ONE woman is treated this way AFTER she has already been assaulted, that is too many.
I’ve made peace with what happened to me. I told my husband about it long before we got married. I told my daughters about it when I thought they were old enough to understand what can happen when you allow yourself to be in a bad situation.
See…..there it is again. Even in my head a part of me still thinks it was my fault for being in a situation where it could happen. And it’s no wonder considering what I see and hear every day.
It’s easy to get caught up in politics and especially the negativity associated with this one. I won’t deny I haven’t been a part of that. But think beyond the politics to what you are actually saying and posting when you comment about sexual assaults–whether they happened or not. You never know what has happened in the past to the person sitting right in front of you.