Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Believe Them.

An article appeared on my Facebook feed this morning. The Pink Haired Papist and I are discussing it over on my page
This is what it would look like if my disembodied head sat creepily close to Tori as she had a drink.

All joking aside, this article really breaks my heart. 

I don't really want to delve into statistics right now. Sexual assault numbers are notoriously inaccurate given the number of women that never report. So, even if "2% of rape reports are fake" is inaccurate, I'd go you one better and say of course it is inaccurate. You cannot account for something that is under-reported, because to what degree is it under-reported? And really. Can you blame victims? (No pun intended.) If you come forward with sexual assault allegations, everything you have ever worn, done or said is called into question. In my case, I lost both of my closest friends for speaking up. Imagine if I had reported it. 

When I was assaulted by my best friend in college, I felt like scum. I had willingly gone to his parent's home at night, thinking that we would just be catching up. I quickly realized that was not the case. 

When I got back to my dad's, I just wanted to go back to school. A few weeks later, I called a mutual friend and told him what had happened. He said "You know he didn't mean anything by it." If one of my best friends can make unwanted sexual advances and choose not to stop despite me saying "No." and I tell my other closest and trusted friend that I was assaulted and he doesn't believe me, why would a police officer?

The message we send women over and over again is this: If you were assaulted, report it. Then be prepared to prove that you are the perfect victim so that we will believe you.

The article that launched this post speaks mostly to campus* assaults which are most likely** the most commonly unreported sexual assault. Why? Alcohol. How many college (and high school) age women wake up the morning after, realize they have had sex without the ability to consent, and blame only themselves? Doesn't it make sense to be addressing this issue with both men and women that are college age?

This same article also brings up The Rolling Stone debacle. The author goes out of his way to ensure his readers that it all was a lie and that NOW believes it anyway. Why is the only mention of victims about lies? I have a book filled with things to say about this. If an assault is reported, it is the job of the police officers and the justice system to prosecute the person responsible. It is our job as advocates against sexual assault, not to discredit the victim, but to believe her/him and support healing and rehabilitation for all involved. Why do we get so wrapped up in discrediting the victim first? Why can't we just acknowledge that there was some sort of trauma involved and strive to help those involved repair the damage so that it stops happening?

Ask yourself: How much does it help us to assume an accuser is lying or partially to blame for a sexual assault? When we assume a victim is lying until an assault can be proven, we ensure that future victims will not come forward. 

I get it. No one wants to see lives ruined over false accusations. This is why prevention and advocacy is so imperative! It is important that we address this issue with our children. It is important that both men and women stand together to end sexual assaults. It is important that we support healing for victims and rehabilitation for perpetrators. 

*If you want to call them that- not all sexual assault happening to college students by college students are happening on campus, but I digress. 

**If you have statistics to disprove this, feel free to fill me in.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are always welcome! Come join me on:
Twitter: @jessfayette