Imagine something for a moment. Someone coming up to you, and saying they have been raped. What do you do?Seriously, think about it for a moment. Because the world is demanding you have an answer these days. Even though you weren't a party to this heinous act, you may very well be held accountable for your reaction. Especially if you are a man. You may have heard this reasoning quite often when women are asked about why they didn't do more, or why they didn't come forward. At some point, it seems to be one of the answers or reasons - other people didn't do enough. And it's a defense people will use quite often as well in discussions about destroying rape culture - other people have to do more. Do something. Do anything. So, what do you do? Or better yet - what CAN you do? Because that seems to be something nobody wants to bother answering, or addressing. It's simply a hive mind response much of the time - "Men should do more. Other people should do more. DO. MORE." As if the onus of bringing rapists to justice largely falls on the shoulders of anyone BUT the victim. Let me be clear here - rape is despicable. I personally believe that anyone who commits this act, should spend the rest of their days behind bars, because their victim is certainly going to have to live with the trauma of it until the day they die. But, and I know this is becoming rather a taboo thing to mention these days - the victim IS the one who has the most power to do something about it! And they SHOULD. Other people can certainly help, and they should too. But other people are limited in what we can do to actually help. We can't go to the police for you, we can't give statements on your behalf of what happened, we can't take rape kit tests for you, we can't go to trial on your behalf and stand up there and give your story to a jury. And ultimately - we cannot make you take back the power to be brave, and to stand up and say "I will NOT let this go."And most importantly - we cannot blindly believe you when you say someone has raped you, or sexually harassed you. I'm sorry, but we cannot. No more than we could blindly believe that someone robbed you, or stole your car, or took your lunch, or tripped you, or shoved you against a wall, or gave you a black eye, or shot you...literally ANYTHING that you could otherwise claim someone else did to you. This seems to be the crux of the problem - people seem to think we should believe accusers right off the bat, and condemn men accused because rape culture is a thing, and to hell with due process, fair trails, or a justice system. Because those have failed so many women in the past. So now you ABSOLUTELY must believe anyone who accuses someone of rape, sexual assault, harassment, and if you don't, you're part of the problem. This is asinine. Pure and simple. I agree, due process, trials, and the justice system, in general, has failed FAR too many women, and men, in the past when it comes to getting justice for their assaults, their rapes, their harassment. But we can't start lynching people for not "doing enough". You can't start blaming everyone else for what happened to you, or for the fact that you were too scared to come forward. If you weren't believed, you can't blame those who weren't part of whoever didn't believe you for that. And when I say believe, again, I do not mean they should automatically agree with you that what you say happened, happened. There has to be due process, there has to be fair trials. So...what can WE do, and what can YOU do if you've been a victim of rape?WE can be there to support you emotionally. WE can help your voice be heard if people refuse to take your allegations seriously. WE can demand answers for you if rape kits aren't being processed. WE can help you, if possible, gather evidence and build a case as best as possible. But please keep in mind we do not live in a fully fair and just world, I'm sorry to say. There are people who rob, cheat, steal, murder every day who get away with it. Many of them may ultimately be brought to justice, but that's not always the case. It may not be the case for you. But please - DO NOT let that stop you. YOU can report what has been done to you to proper authorities, YOU can hold them accountable if they refuse to listen to you or try and make it seem like it was your fault or that you didn't do enough, YOU can be brave, and stand up to someone who tried to take your life, your voice, your will away. It won't be easy. In fact, it will probably be hard, emotionally devastating, perhaps even soul-crushing. But if you don't do everything in your power, we can't help you. If you falter, everyone around you loses what power they have to assist you. Much of it is, unfortunately, on YOUR shoulders. Because YOU are the victim. And YOU are the one who has to take your life back. Take YOUR voice back. Take YOUR strength back. We can't believe you outright, but it doesn't mean we have to dismiss what you say either. It can, and SHOULD be taken seriously. But like any other accusation of crime, people are innocent until proven guilty. Please, PLEASE keep that in mind.