Sunday, February 22, 2015
Let's Talk About Sexual Assault
I'm not really sure how to write an intro for today's topic, so I'm just going to throw it out there. I'm going to talk about sexual assault. Please please please click away if this is a sensitive topic for you, because I don't want trigger anyone! As you may know, I'm volunteering with my local Rape Crisis Center and am just about done with my training. I've learned so much, I wanted to share some of this knowledge with others. What I'm going to talk about today will barely chip the tip of the iceberg, but it will be a good start. So if you're still with me, keep on reading.
People can be very critical of victims of sexual assault and rape. I'll raise my hand and say I've been one of those people in the past. When you hear about the alleged Bill Cosby assaults, have you ever thought to yourself: "Okay all these people just suddenly remember he assaulted them years ago? Sure okay." No judgement. It's a natural thought for some people. If not, then props to you for being so open. We all need to give that a try.
I just want to throw a statistic at you. It's more common for someone to fake their own death, than falsely report sexual assault/rape. Can you believe that?! I was utterly shocked when I heard it. The only time I've heard of someone faking a death is back when Bart Bass did on Gossip Girl, and I don't think that even counts... Yet people still tend to be critical and accuse victims of lying about sexual assault in the media, or even among peers.
Fact: Women tend to be more critical than men. I think it's because we think "I would never be in that situation," or we look at the persons past and think "well she's a slut so I'm not surprised." The fact is, no one ever asks to be sexually assaulted, and no matter what that person has done in the past, they do not deserve for that to happen to them.
On top of that, sexual assault is incredibly under-reported. Fear that people will not believe them, or will judge them can be a huge factor in women not reporting sexual assault. They might just not want to deal with potential reactions from those who are close to them. Some of the worst things you can say are "you'll move on," or "eventually you will get over it." A trauma like sexual assault becomes part of a persons life. They were a victim, and become a survivor. They work hard to take what has happened to them and learn how to push forward, but they will never forget.
Another unfortunate reporting deterrent is how incredibly hard it is to put someone behind bars for sexual assault. Only about 6% of people accused of sexual assault actually get convicted, mostly due to a lack of evidence, not because it didn't happen. Even if there are bruises, and DNA present, all the assailant needs to say is that they thought it was consensual, and they will likely get a not-guilty verdict. That doesn't mean you shouldn't report it if it happens to you! Even if a person does not get a guilty verdict, it will still be noted on their record.
There is so much more I could go into, and I would be happy to if there is interest. This is definitely a different kind of post for me, but it's something I am really passionate about. I do want to make a few things clear. I'm not saying at all that women are the only victims of sexual assault. It happens to people of all ages, races, and genders. I am just using women as my example today. Also, if you have been sexually assaulted and need someone to talk to, or to help you learn your options, feel free to email me! I strongly encourage you to file a report, but sometimes you just need support.