Reporting Sexual Assault Is Important Even Though It's Hard

Reporting Sexual Assault Is Important Even Though It's Hard

How can we encourage others to come forward?
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It’s common for sexual assault victims to question whether or not they should contact law enforcement and report their assault. While many believe that a victim should report their assault right away, and may even be frustrated by a victim’s hesitancy to do so, there are many reasons why a sexual assault victim may not immediately report the crime.

Four years ago, when I was 17, I was sexually assaulted by my best friend's (at the time) dad. My situation was tricky because he was able to have contact with me whenever I was over at my friend's house, especially for sleepovers. He was 30 years older than me, with a wife and two other daughters. He formed an inappropriate relationship through text at first, then email, then in person.

He saw me a lot, considering all three of his daughters ran track with me in high school. I still blame myself for letting it happen, but I didn't know what to do at the time. I couldn't tell anybody – not my parents, my close friends, my coach, or even my best friend. I didn't want to mess anything up. He convinced me that what we had was "normal," and that "age is just a number."

I'd lie to my parents about where I was everyday. I was either with my group of friends or in his car – pretending everything was normal. After he expressed that he loved me, and would wait for me, I had to tell someone.

Fortunately, I was able to tell my coach, who then told me what to do from there. I felt ashamed... uncomfortable... and guilty of ruining his life for him, and telling someone about it.

So, how do we encourage others to report their sexual assaults?

Despite the fact that reporting sexual assaults/abuse and the subsequent civil or criminal process is an intimidating and frightening experience, there are things you can do to inspire survivors to come forward. Encouraging phrases and words can relieve fears of judgment and show support for the victim. Consider phrases like:

  • "It’s not your fault." Remind the person that s/he is not to blame for what happened.
  • "I’m sorry this happened to you." Show sympathy by acknowledging that the experience has affected the person's life.
  • "You aren’t alone." Show the victim that you’re there for them and are willing to listen to their situation.
  • "I believe you." It’s extremely challenging for the individual to come forth and share their experience. Therefore, your job is to support them and remove all the doubts.

Sexual assault takes a big physical and emotional toll on a victim, who may still be processing what happened and may not be totally ready to handle retelling their story. I know I wasn't at first, but of course, being a junior in high school, I also had other distractions to try to help cope with it.

All I know is, I wish I told someone sooner.

#YoungerThanYouThink #BreakTheCycle

Cover Image Credit: Candace Jones

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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To The Best Friend Every Girl Should Be Blessed Enough To Have

You definitely deserve all the love.

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I have not written this letter, but it has been on my list of "to write" for forever. She keeps asking when I will write one about her and every time I tell her, soon.

Well here it is. The truth on why it took so long? No words seem to do everything justice. No matter how I put them or how I want them to sound, the page always makes them look weird and they always sound lame.

But finally, here it is. Best friend, this one is for you.

First and foremost I will start with a holy cow. We have been best friends for only a short time because who knew your "in school friend" from all those math classes would actually turn into this? We put off hanging out outside of school for years, and finally, after suffering through all that algebra we decided enough was enough.

I wish we had sooner.

I wish I had gotten more time with you before we both moved away to college - but ill take whatever time I get with you because well… you're incredible.

Thank you.

Thank you for finally agreeing to hang out with me.

Thank you for listening to every rant ever - whether it was a paragraph long text, a 2 hour FaceTime call or an hour-long car ride.

Thank you for ordering planners with me and spending nights decorating them with me (we are such losers).

Thank you for letting me become a part of your family.

Thank you for going to Friendly's, IHOP and Target at the most ungodly hours.

Thank you for encouraging me in everything I do, and stopping me from making bad decisions.

Thank you for telling me the truth, despite if it hurt me or not, I know now you will never lie about your feelings towards someone (LOL).

Basically, thank you for everything you have done for me. You have made me a better person and you encourage me to be my best self every single day.

Moving on I want to make it clear how incredibly proud of you I am. I love getting texts from you about your love for your classes, and how you want to be president of this club and president of that. How you help out kids, and how you host events. I love hearing about your major and the classes you are so incredibly excited to take. Watching you be so passionate about what you are doing and becoming makes me want to feel the same way in everything I do.

I hope someday my kids are your students because, in your hands, I know they can change the world.

Last but not least, I love you. And you're stuck with me.

Love,

Your forever number one fan

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