"I believe you."
Those three little words can make a huge difference to someone who’s been sexually assaulted. During the rise of the me-too and TIMES UP era, we heard stories about women who never reported their assault.
For many years, these women lived in silence with a heavy secret weighing down their soul.
A lot of comments were made by people on social media asking the question, if these women were sexually assaulted, then why would they stay silent?
There are a lot of reasons why some women who have been assaulted choose not to report it to the police. Some of those reasons are….
- They’re embarrassed.
- They feel like no one will believe them.
- They’re ashamed.
- They just want to forget about the whole thing.
- They’re afraid of what their abuser will do if they go to the police.
Those are just some of the reasons why victims choose not to report, and I have to say, I understand completely.
On my 22nd birthday in 2010, I was sexually assaulted. I didn’t want to report my assault to the police, I just wanted to forget about it.
During that whole ordeal and a couple of years after, I felt like I had no voice.
What a ton of people who have not gone through this experience fail to understand is, being sexually assaulted takes a lot out of you, and I’m talking about more than just physically.
Physically, survivors are hurt during the process by being beaten, pinned down, while an intruder is being thrust inside their bodies.
They lose their emotional state of mind, by experiencing ongoing flashbacks of the assault, they have panic attacks, develop depression and PTSD.
Some survivors develop an eating disorder because of the attack, which is what happened to me. I was anorexic for a long time.
And lastly, a survivor loses her voice. She stays quiet about what happened because she doesn’t think people will believe her.
She’s embarrassed about what took place and feels like it was her fault which makes her choose to stay silent.
She loses her voice by the whole experience which results in her staying silent about her assault. Or, reporting her assault to the police and is treated badly, makes her lose her voice even more.
She thought, "I reported my assault to the police and all they did was ask me what I was wearing during the assault, was I drinking, did you lead him on in any way."
"Reporting my assault didn’t help, it was a huge waste of time."
Being asked by police, the people who are there to protect you, what you were wearing during the time of the assault puts it in the survivor’s mind that the police are putting the blame on her.
Like, if she didn’t do whatever she did to invite it, then it never would have happened.
"You wore a tank top and a mini skirt? What did you think would happen when dressing like a slut? It’s no surprise you were raped."
Or, being asked by friends if you led him on in any way.
"You flirted with him all night and even kissed him; did you expect him not to pursue things with you?"
"If you didn’t want him to try to have sex with you, then you shouldn’t have led him on by kissing and flirting with him all night."
These type of questions are harmful to survivors, they hurt and burn their souls. We shouldn’t be asking survivors those questions.
They have been hurt enough as it is, they don’t need you to throw salt on their wounds. Instead of asking insensitive questions like what were you wearing? Were you drinking that night? Did you lead him on?
We should be asking questions like, are you okay? What can I do to help you through this difficult time? Would you like me to be by your side when and if you go to the police or court?
And we should always add to our supportive questions, I believe you, this was not your fault, you are not to blame for this. I am so sorry this happened to you, I am here for you and I support you, I will always be by your side.
This is what we should be saying to survivors.
Why does society feel the need to victim blame the survivors and treat the rapists like they did nothing wrong?
I don’t get it, I just don’t and I’m mad about the type of culture our society has adopted. I’m fucking pissed, and you should be too.
Our society has adopted rape culture as our new normal, because they rather blame the victims, why?
I have no fucking clue why they victim blame the survivors and why rapists aren’t being held accountable and when they are, they get a measly little sentence.
Why, why, why?
If people don’t want everyone to rush to judgment and put all the blame on the guy, then they need to show the same respect to the woman.
It’s tough trying to navigate through life after you’ve been sexually assaulted.
Your life feels different, the world feels different, and sadly your body feels different. You still wonder if your friends and family believe you and believe that this wasn’t your fault.
You also wonder if you’ll ever get your voice back and when you’ll stop feeling alone.
Even though I had the love and support of my family and close friends, I still felt all alone.
With the feeling of being all alone and having no voice, I chose to become an advocate for victims of sexual assault. I want them to know that they are not alone, and they do have a voice.
Whether they choose to use their voice themselves or have an advocate be their voice.
They have a voice.
It’s time for us to listen and help them be heard. It’s an awful feeling being sexually assaulted and thinking you are all alone. It’s time we put a stop to Rape Culture once and for all.
Rape Culture shouldn’t even exist and the fact that it does is sickening.
If someone comes up to you and confides in you, that they were sexually assaulted. Listen.
Don’t ask them what type of clothes they were wearing or if they were drinking. Don’t ask them if they gave their rapist the wrong impression.
Don’t ask them “are you sure you didn’t want it?” Don’t ask them stupid insensitive questions.
It took a lot of guts for them to be able to come up to you and disclose what happened.
To all the survivors out there, women AND men. I believe you. I’m sorry you went through such a horrific experience.
You are not alone, and I am here for you. I will fight for you and stand with you. You have my love and support forever.