Sexual assault is one of the most underreported violent crimes…
There are a lot of reasons why people don’t report the offence to the police. There are worries about being believed, some people worry that it was somehow their fault (remember the whole media thing around blaming the victim for something they wore or for going on a date or having something to drink), some people worry about other people finding out through police and court, many people feel ashamed and embarrassed and just want to forget it ever happened. No one really wants to tell their story over and over again and especially to a bunch of strangers that keep asking you questions to make sure you’re telling the truth.
- Alcohol, not Rohypnol or other “date rape drugs”, is the most common drug involved in drug-facilitated sexual assault.
Assuming you’re legally old enough to drink alcohol, there should be nothing wrong with having a drink with a friend. It’s not a promise to have sex and it doesn’t necessarily *mean* anything. Unfortunately, many people feel like they should have known better and blame themselves afterwards for having too much to drink. The problem isn’t so much having a drink of alcohol; the problem is the person who uses that to take advantage of another. They are the ones responsible and they are the ones who should feel embarrassed and ashamed.
- Sexual assault may not leave obvious physical injuries. A perpetrator may use threats, the presence of weapons or other coercive actions that do not leave obvious marks. Lack of physical injury does not mean that a woman was not sexually assaulted
You don’t need bruises and broken bones to be sexually assaulted. This is such a difficult concept for most people to get. Everyone has little ‘scenarios’ in their minds of how they would deal with all kinds of information. Some people have it all sorted out in their heads what they would do in an earthquake. Some are pretty sure they know what they would do if a tornado hit. Some even know what to do if there is a zombiepocalypse and the zombies try to take over (my plan is to become best friends with those people very, very quickly). And many people have a vague idea of what they would do if they were assaulted or “jumped” or had someone come after them. Those scenarios usually involve things like running away really fast or screaming for help or fighting back and getting free and then running for help. The problem is, how we think things are going to happen in our minds and what really happens are two very different scenarios. We forget about the fear and how that can be used against us to try to keep us from following through with all the wonderful scenarios in our heads. We forget about things like the fact that even though I’m a strong lady and can kayak on the ocean for hours without a break, a 15 year old boy can take me down without even breaking out in a sweat. When events happen in ways we don’t expect them to or others think we should have done it differently, we can be really stressed and confused. Was I sexually assaulted because I didn’t fight back hard enough?
How about, are you alive because of the way you did choose to handle it, even if it’s not the way you thought you would?
It is important not to judge a person’s experience by how he or she responds to the assault.
We all react in different ways and it’s just as common for people to appear calm and detached afterwards as it for people to not be able to think straight or not stop crying. Each person has their own way of coping and and their own way of trying to make sense of what has occurred and none of us are in a position to ever judge that.
72% confide in friends, 41% turn to family and other informal sources of support, 33% turn to co-workers and 13% turn to doctors and nurses. We are all part of the healing or we’re part of the problem. Every action and reaction we have to someone who comes forward looking for support and help matters. That’s why it’s very important – in fact, I would go so far as to say it’s our responsibility – to educate ourselves so that we know now to offer the best support possible should someone ever turn to any of us for help.