Why Survivors Don't Always Speak Out
Let's talk about sexual abuse.
Let's talk about Sexual abuse.
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Every eight minutes, that victim is a child. One of every five will be female, one in every 20 will be male.
In 34% of cases of child sexual assault, the perpetrator was a family member.
These are only the reported cases, and yet only six; six out of every 1,000 reported will go to prison.
With justice so seemingly unavailable, it's no wonder cases often go unreported. The few who report are often thrust into the spotlight and thrown to the wolves.
Imagine yourself a victim, imagine you decide to report right away, you do everything right and still, you become interrogated about every minuscule detail, forced to relive that violation over and over. Everything about you becomes available for scrutiny. What clothes you wore, where you were and with whom. every detail of your story being picked apart in order to find some blame they can place on you. You will be told what you did wrong, how you should have or could have prevented this, and lectured for being a victim.
It's almost as though in order to make sense of something so terrible, society has to find fault in the victim. They demand something to make it justified so that it makes sense. As a woman, you are often held responsible for the behaviors and actions of the men around you. As a man, your masculinity called into question, after all, men can't really be raped, right?
Child victims are shamed and bullied into keeping quiet. You're no longer the pure picture of innocence society want you to be. You're damaged now.
Imagine for a moment that you were a victim and the person who violated you was a family member. Your trust and self-esteem are in tatters. The world is suddenly dangerous and everyone around you becomes a threat.
Perhaps the person who was supposed to love and protect you was the one who hurt you. The people in your world cannot comprehend such a horrific act, they refuse to believe your truth. They tell you you're lying in an attempt to protect their own realities from being shattered so cruelly. "How dare you to accuse them?" they might say.
"You should have known better", or even, "That person loves you, they would never hurt you." You are facing blame for tearing apart a family, for destroying everyone's perceptions.
As survivors, we are often told to keep quiet about or experiences, no one wants to be reminded of your vulnerability. Speaking out against those who hurt us is seen as shameful. "You should have done something!" they cry, "You made yourself a victim."
They tell us, "If it's true, why didn't you say anything?"
As a survivor, our experiences can be so horrific our minds can't process what happened. Some of us will forget or try to forget. We block it out in an attempt to preserve ourselves. Convince ourselves it wasn't real or we misinterpreted, or that we are somehow to blame.
We try to make sense of it all. It poisons us slowly over time, the fear, shame, and guilt. We keep quiet out of fear of persecution, fear of being rejected by society for being damaged. We fear the judgment that society will pass on us for something we have no control over. So we keep silent, sometimes for years. There are some survivors who will not speak out because it's their silence that's allowing them to continue living. their silence is keeping their sanity in tact.
It seems as though society wants us, the survivors, to protect them from reality. To protect them from the ugly truth of our circumstances. they can't fathom the world with such evil in it so they try to make it justified. But we are not to blame. We are survivors. We come in different shapes and sizes, we come from all walks of life. One thing is for certain, we are not responsible for the actions of others. We are survivors.
If you were a victim, nothing you did justifies being assaulted, nothing you said, nothing you wore is justification for abusing you. You are not at fault, and you are not alone. We stand beside you.
https://www.rainn.org/Or call 800.656.HOPE (4673)
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence: http://endsexualviolence.org/forsurvivors
Or text "start to 741-741 for additional resources or someone to talk to.