Why Women Don't Report Sexual Assault

Why Women Don't Report Sexual Assault

Listen. Believe. Support. Before it's too late.

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A spotlight has been pointed at Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. If you've been paying attention to the news, social media, or if you've even just been listening to your friends and family speak, you most likely know that Kavanaugh is Trump's nominee for a spot on the Supreme Court, and Ford, a professor of psychology, has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during their teenage years.

This has sparked a question that people have been asking for years; why don't women report their sexual assault? And if they do report it, why do they wait so long? The answer is simple. Victims of sexual assault don't report what happened because they are not believed. They are mocked, they are threatened, and for the rest of their lives, they will be under a microscope.

As for why women wait to report their assault, it isn't hard to figure out, especially in Ford's case. If the person who sexually assaulted me was about to be given a spot on the Supreme Court, that would be the exact moment that I would come forward. This was incredibly brave of Ford, considering that she and her family have been under constant threat since the moment she stepped forward. Her address and phone number were leaked, she received death threats, and she has had to relive her trauma in front of the entire world.

For people who are sexually assaulted by people who aren't nominated for a spot on the Supreme Court, the reasons are the same. How often do you hear about a student reporting sexual assault and nothing being done about it? All too often, the victim is forced to leave their school or workplace because people believe their attacker over them. These people lose their friends, and sometimes even their family.

On top of all of that, victims of sexual assault are no longer allowed to live. They are expected to walk around with their trauma every day, and believe me, they do. However, they should not be expected to live the rest of their lives in a state of misery.

"I want to ask Christine if she remembers partying at Trolls, drinking at He's Not Here. Hooking up with guys at Henderson Street. Eating at Time Out. Remember those days, Christine? Tell us about them." – Denise C. McAllister

McAllister's comment alludes that all victims should not only have to endure the trauma of sexual assault, but that they should have to live the rest of their lives in solitary, never having a good day, or a fun night. They should never be allowed to go to a bar and have a drink, never be allowed to form new relationships or move forward in their lives in any way.

If you're still questioning why victims don't come forward sooner, or if you're someone who believes that people accuse others of sexual assault "for fame", remind yourself of the death threats, ridicule, and the trauma that will be piled on to victims when they have to relive and recount their assault in front of a crowd. The President of the United States openly mocks victims of sexual assault, and yet they're supposed to feel comfortable coming forward? It doesn't work like that. Not one person has ever become rich and famous from accusing someone of sexual assault. Those who come forward are braver than I could ever imagine.

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A Letter To My Rapist

Despite what you've done, I finally have my life back.
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I met you over a year ago for what would be the first and last time I ever saw you. You were a great looking guy, seemed kind, mature. You brought drinks, told me you were 21, and were graduating that spring. You seemed like any other great person.

The first mistake I made was not watching you while you made my drink. At the time, I had never really had much experience with alcohol, so I let you do your thing, but nothing occurred to me that you could've possibly done something to it. "Always watch your drink," my mom always told me, for when I went to clubs, parties, anywhere. This is the one time I didn't.

We played a few drinking games from apps on your phone and by the time I got through half of mine, I felt extremely fuzzy. Now, I know I'm small and a lightweight, but I know for sure half a drink doesn't do much to me, as far as my eyesight, my speech, and my thinking. This is the one time it did.

You started becoming flirty, and although you were attractive, I had no intention of trying to sleep with you. When I felt nauseous and dizzy, I lied on my stomach on my bed. I could start to hear your clothes come off. "Do you have a condom?" I remembered you ask. "There's a used one in the trash. But, I don't really want to have sex with you anyway" were my exact words. Usually, when I tell guys I don't want to have sex with them, they back off and apologize. This is the first of many times one didn't.

I felt you take off my leggings and my sweater. I was still awake but drowsy and I couldn't bring myself to say anything. I hardly knew you. If I screamed, you could've done anything to me. I figured it was safest to not say anything in case you'd try to hurt me. I'd rather a psychological scar than a physical one. Most people say I talk loud, always on the verge of screaming. Screaming was my way of talking. This is the one time it wasn't.

I shed tears from my eyes as you raped me, and just drifted off. When I woke up, I could feel you wiping down my back, and putting your clothes back on. I asked you how my clothes got off; you said I did it. When you left, you gave me a fake name, a hug, and never saw me again. But, it wasn't the last you'd hear from me.

It took me four days to get the courage to go to the Women's Center and tell them what had happened. By this point, I had your full name, address, and birthday from your driver's license that my friend gave to me when he catfished you. You were actually 28, lived on the beach, and hadn't been to this school in years.

The police went to your door and talked to you about what happened. They said you denied everything. I figured you would've since you consistently kept messaging me, saying you didn't rape me and how "falsely reporting" one was a crime. You tried to turn it on me, but I just didn't respond to you. You were already convinced you weren't a rapist, and I knew me trying to tell you, you were wasn't going to do any justice.

I wanted to press charges. I really did. But, unfortunately, we live in a world where rape cases take months, and with the lack of solid DNA evidence I had, which was nonexistent, I knew it would be a waste of money, time, and energy. I stopped returning the detective's calls, I stopped talking to my victim advocate, I tried to ignore the whole thing ever happened. But, that wasn't realistic either.

I stopped sleeping at night, and the only way I could manage to sleep was to wander campus until 3 a.m., as if that was a safe outlet. I confided in alcohol, boys who saw me for one thing, and other unhealthy coping methods that I knew wouldn't work, but I knew it would numb the pain temporarily and that was better than not numbing it at all. When that didn't seem to work, I had one option left: to deal with it.

Because of you, I've now talked to other girls who have been put in the same situation and helped them cope and make decisions about what to do. I helped them deal with it, weigh their options, and supported everything they chose to do. With that being said, I helped put seven rapists in jail, because of you.

Because of you, I've learned to deal with it day by day. There are days where it's all I can think about, and there are days I forget it ever happened. The days I forget I named "Paradise Days," and thankfully, I have a lot more of those than I used to.

Because of you, I've struggled with sexual relationships but now, they're getting easier to experience and talk about. I'm starting to be more vocal, in the sense of if I don't like something, I actually say it. If a boy keeps going, I just give them a good punch or kick to the stomach. As violent as it seems, it works every time.

It's now been almost a year and a half since it happened, and luckily, I've moved far past it. That's not to say I'm completely over it, but I can talk about it without crying. I can explain to boys what they're getting into when they want to have some kind of relationship with me without being ashamed. I can freely express my opinons about rapists and sexual assault from first-hand experience. When I saw the Brock Turner case happened, I got extremely angry and hurt that this keeps happening on college campuses. But, at least Turner got more jail time than you did.

I have a lot of my hate in my heart for you. People have told me "hate" is a strong word, but so are my feelings about what happened. I hope the news story on First Coast News scared you into never doing this again to someone else. If you've already done it again, I hope that girl puts you in jail. If I ever get the chance to meet her, I'll give her more thanks than I could ever give to anyone. I honestly hope this eats at you for the rest of your life. I sincerely hope there is not a day that goes by that you don't think about me.

But, lucky for me, I go through every day without thinking about you.

Cover Image Credit: Angelica Padilla

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To The Journalist Trying To Fat Shame Nike, Get Out Of The Business Of Putting Other Women Down

You can kiss my plus sized a$$ in my new Nike shorts.

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Recently, Nike expanded its clothing line to include a plus-size line. It includes sports bras, leggings in a variety of prints and colors, shirts, and their popular running shorts. (WHOO! I've already bought one of each).

In a statement given to Refinery29, the company said "Nike recognizes that women are stronger, bolder, and more outspoken than ever. In today's world, sport is no longer something that she does, it's who she is."

So, score one Nike for understanding that athletes come in ALL sizes, shapes, and everything in between! It seems Nike finally understands that you shouldn't have to be an Olympic athlete to wear those super cute leggings you saw in store.

It's a body positive forward step for the company, but some people instead of celebrating body positivity and inclusion (and cute clothing), can only see one thing: the other women's weight.

In the light of body positivity, there is one woman who tried to tear down others with her hateful comments.

Nike announced the clothing line and had a picture of their new mannequin, who is plus-sized.

Nike

Tanya Gold, a writer for The Telegraph, writes a fat-shaming, hateful, and hurtful article geared towards fat shaming plus-sized women.

Gold says in response to the mannequin, "She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat."

Which this statement alone is an incredibly hurtful thing to say, but she follows it up with assumptions that I can only think of one word to describe it as... it's just plain mean.

"She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear," Gold writes. "She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of Nike?"


So, let me get this straight.

You want us "fatties" to lose weight, but not let us have the proper clothing and gear to do that? How dare you criticize me or make any other assumption about me other than that I'm trying to get healthy.

You want to criticize what I wear when you're the one who said to lose weight, to begin with. Most plus size women are scared to go to the gym because of harsh judgment or ridicule from people like you, Ms. Gold.

But you can sit on a high horse that can tell us to lose weight but doesn't want us to have or wear athletic clothing. God forbid we get a properly fitted sports bra.

Wearing Nike clothing and athletic wear, in general, does not mean that you have to be an athlete. You are allowed to wear it if only, simply, because you like it or that it is comfortable.

You do not have to go to the gym the second you put on Nike shorts. You're allowed to wear them just because you feel like it. You do not need some fat shaming, hurtful, mean, journalist to tell you what you can or can't put on your body.

Nike putting out plus-sized mannequins is inspiring. It is so hard for women to go into a store and be able to actually see themselves in the mannequins displayed.

Being able to see yourself as that mannequin dressed in athletic wear subtly says, "Hey, I can do this. She is me." It's a powerful confidence booster that I think all women need at one time or another, regardless of size.

I am not in the business of tearing down other women, and I don't think Nike is either.

So Tanya Gold, if you're reading this, you can kiss my "plus sized" a$s in my new Nike shorts.


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