As we wrap up April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it’s important to keep the dialogue going and encourage everyone (ourselves included!) to keep educating themselves on the issue of sexual assault. One part we have to keep talking about is the myriad of sad reasons that many women don’t feel comfortable reporting sexual assault.
If you’ve even glanced towards the news the past few weeks, you’ll see that the topic of Bill O’Reilly has dominated headlines, especially now that they’ve finally terminated him after years of sexual assault allegations. (With a cool 25 million dollar payout, of course.) We needn’t look very far to see the malicious ways survivors of assault are treated in the media—and the O’Reilly-like wrist slapping that many men receive—to begin to grasp just a few of the reasons why many women don’t feel comfortable discussing or reporting their assault.
Sexual violence affects millions of Americans, with someone being assaulted every 98 seconds.
Women and girls experience sexual violence at very high rates, with college students being three times more likely than women in general to experience assault. Women of the same age who are not in college are four times more likely to be raped. Only 20 percent of female student report their sexual assault, and only 32 percent of non-student female victims of the same age make a report. Their reasons vary, but all are indicative of a society that does not support survivors in the way that it should.
Here are seven common reasons women don’t feel comfortable reporting their sexual assault.
1They fear for their safety and well being
Not only is this physical abuse, but it is emotional and psychological abuse as well. The victim may choose to remain silent in the hopes that it won’t happen again or to protect themselves or someone else.
2They didn’t think it was important enough to report
Because we haven’t been educated properly on what sexual assault includes, women can often feel confused about whether they just experienced even constitutes as sexual assault. But it’s always better to get the truth out, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal. Because anybody violating you and your body is a very big deal, and you shouldn’t have to endure that alone.
3They’re afraid of being victim blamed
Being sexually assaulted is traumatic enough without wanting to have your name dragged through the mud for speaking out. This is part of the larger problem of rape culture that needs to be addressed in this country, and until the general public can truly understand the ramifications of it, survivors will continue to choose not to come forward.
4They don’t want to get the perpetrator in trouble
5They don’t think anyone will believe them
There are many labels placed on women who are raped that make them less “believable.” The expectation of being the “perfect victim” can halt women from speaking the truth. But no matter who you are and what lifestyle you lead, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
6They don’t want to re-live the trauma
7They’re in denial
The nuances of processing the trauma of sexual assault are different for everyone. It’s important to be aware of what resources are available to you and others in the unfortunate event that assault occurs. When in doubt, always reach out to someone you trust for help. You’re not in this alone.