Why Most Sexual Assault Cases are Not Reported

One of the most traumatizing experiences is being sexually assaulted. There is so much shame surrounding sexual assault that most cases go unreported. Of all the sexual assault incidences, less than 30% are reported. Why the number is this low and what can be done to improve this? This article will try to answer that question and offer a solution.

Sexual assault victims do not have the same reason for not reporting. However, here are some reasons that make them not come forward.

1. Victims are Ashamed

There is a lot of shame surrounding sexual assault. As a human being, you believe you have control over what happens to you. When you are assaulted, it makes you feel like you are not in control anymore. Sexual assault is dehumanizing and humiliating leaving one feeling helpless. You feel violated and contaminated which makes you feel sorry for yourself.

2. Victims Blame Themselves

Self-blame is the worst effect of sexual assault. Most victims blame themselves and believe that they put themselves in that position. For a victim to heal and recover, they must let go of the guilt and shame. It is not their fault that was assaulted and it can happen to anyone. When a child who was sexually abused as a child is assaulted as an adult, they are bound to think and believe that it was their fault.

3. The Fear of Being Blamed

When a lady is assaulted, the society is quick to blame her. Why did she dress a certain way? Why did she drink too much? It’s her fault for flirting with him. She probably wanted it. You might have heard stories like this where the victim is blamed for getting herself in that situation. Our victim-blaming culture makes the woman responsible for getting assaulted.

The blame comes from both men and surprisingly, fellow women. Men believe that it is woman’s duty to prevent rape. Women believe that women should not put themselves in situations where they can be assaulted and act like it cannot happen to them. When a man is the victim of assault, he is viewed as queer and weak. This makes it harder for men to report sexual assault.

4. No one Believes You

There is a long history of women going through hoops so they can be believed. While friends and family are the first to believe a sexual assault story, the authorities are different. It is hard to make the authorities take you seriously especially if the perpetrator is popular. They are more likely to side with the other party and dismiss you. The movie “Guilty” shows how the society acts when a prominent person is the perpetrator.

5. Fear of Retaliation

Most sexual assault victims know the perpetrator. This makes them reluctant to report the incident because they fear the perpetrator might retaliate. Rapists are known to threaten their victims if the assault is reported. Although there are few incidences of victims getting attacked, they are enough to make them reconsider going to the authorities.

6. To Make It Go Away

Some victims do not report the assault since they want it to go away. They do not want to go through the trauma or reliving the incident anytime they talk about it. They prefer to let it go and try their best to forget it ever happened.

What can be done to change this?

It is unfortunate that sexual assault still happens. However, how we react to it will determine if the victims will have the courage to come forward. There is a lot to be done but it can start with people not shaming sexual assault victims. Instead, they should be encouraged to come forward and report the incident. If you know someone who was sexually assaulted, be there for the person and encourage them to come forward. It does not matter if it happened recently or years ago, you can still make a report.

If you are assaulted, you should seek medical treatment and get counseling since it is a traumatizing experience. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will protect you. If you are afraid of the perpetrator, get a restraining order or seek help from organizations that protect sexual assault victims.

Thanks to Shrutika Potwar

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