After #MeToo, #WhyIDidntReport proves sexual abuse victims are rarely believed
First, #MeToo happened, which united victims of sexual abuse around the globe, and snowballed into, probably, the biggest movement for survivors recently. But months later, the trend #WhyIDidntReport has shown things haven't changed. Survivors are still struggling to come at peace with their stories and hoping they are believed without judgment. That a tweet by President Donald Trump started it, is more disheartening.
We don't need any proof of the misogyny that Trump exudes, so when he weighed in on the Brett Kavanaugh controversy, it wasn't much of a surprise. The US Supreme Court nominee, allegedly, assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, and she recently spoke up. But Trump wondered why did she keep quiet all these years if the attack was 'as bad as she says'.
Ford narrated her story to The Post and said Kavanaugh forced himself on her during a high-school party. It was only during a therapy session with her husband in 2012 that she first addressed the incident. Kavanaugh denied the allegations and has got support from students of Georgetown Prep, an elite all-boys school. Similarly, Ford's friends supported her and claimed she isn't lying.
Who is lying between Kavanaugh and Ford, is for the investigating team to decide, although there is another woman who is ready to testify against the former at a Senate panel next week. The issue, at hand, is about the inbuilt code against believing victims.
The answer to why assault victims don't speak up can be found in the tweets. Personalities like Alyssa Milano, Ashley Judd, Padma Lakshmi also shared their stories. The reasons are plenty: they are scared of repercussions, victims assume it was their fault, their story isn't believed, and in some cases, the trauma of trust being broken by a known person shadows the reporting part.
Addressing the 'Why didn't you report' question, Miss America Emily Sioma wrote, "Because I had never seen a survivor come forward and be treated with dignity, so why would I believe my case would be different? #WhyIDidntReport." While actress Mira Sorvino tweeted: "#WhyIDidntReport because the first time I did for a serious sexual assault as a teenager nothing came of it."
I was 7 the first time I was sexually assaulted. He was a relative of my mom’s second husband. I told my folks and they sent me away. #WhyIDidntReport— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) September 21, 2018
My story... #WhyIDidntReport— Paul Guyot (@Fizzhogg) September 23, 2018
A man attempted to rape me on ROBOCOP 2. I fought him off, and was fired the next day. I went to the highest ranking producer - Pat Crowley - and he told me if I ever wanted to work in Hollywood again, I would tell no one.
No matter how many times it is reiterated that abuse isn't something one can address easily, victim-shaming always seems the go-to way for many. The details of threat, fear, embarrassment, lost trust, rarely ring a bell. Survivors shouldn't have to scream to be believed, period.