Why are Women Silent about Sexual Assault?

Canadian media has been rocked these past week all in thanks to a prominent CBC host Jian Ghomeshi. Known for producing the popular radio show, Q, Ghomeshi is facing a swarm of allegations from women that say Ghomeshi committed sexually and physically abusive acts towards them.

Currently, eight women have (anonymously and publicly) come out about the broadcaster. What’s even more appalling is these alleged incidents have spanned for over more than a decade. And while they have come out to media outlets, none of the women have taken their stories to the police.

Why? It is such an important question: they’re reporting their sexual assault, but why only now?

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They fear the backlash

Consider the society we live in where Jennifer Lawrence is a slut for taking nudes, or Ray Rice’s wife is a gold-digger for not leaving him, or the Steubenville High School rape victim was blamed for “asking for it” and the attackers were defended.

When news first broke out about Ghomeshi’s firing, the broadcaster took to Facebook to express his side of the story. Instantaneously, sides were taken and many individuals were calling the girl involved nothing but a crazy and bitter ex.

We live in a misogynist society.

And the sad truth is, because of this, we shame women. We scrutinize and judge. We label them sluts, whores, blame the way they dress, and make them feel dirty about themselves.

And because of this ideology, women are too afraid to admit the truth, because: why would you want to deal with all the impending negativity when you’ve already been traumatized emotionally, physically, and sexually?

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They blame themselves

And because of the way society views issues like sexual assault, women are more often than not felt to feel nothing but blame for themselves.

If we are constantly in an environment that teaches us “to watch our drinks close” instead of teaching men “not to rape,” women are expected to be on guard all the time. We as women are expected to know the difference between a dangerous man and an innocent man, we’re supposed to not follow someone to their home or a dark corner, not supposed to be open and inviting to someone we may be interested in.

And because of this mentality that is placed upon women time and time again, we are faced with the result of blaming ourselves.

Feeling it is our own fault the situation got out of hand, that we let someone take control over us.

They don’t want to relive it

For some victims, trying to forget the incident ever happened is one way to help move on with their lives.

When you report a sexual assault, victims will be faced with questions. Questions they will need to answer, with answers they don’t want to relive.

Victims may feel ashamed of what they’ve done, they’re scarred in so many ways, and they have to regurgitate a play-by-play to a complete stranger.

Similarly, sometimes reliving it causes revictimization to occur.

In these circumstances, questions arise in regards to what the victim was wearing, how much the victim had to drink, and how hard the victim was working at to ward off sexual advances.

This once again circles the belief of self-blame back onto the victim.

They feel they won’t get help

It is a never-ending case of he-said-she-said, usually resulting in a female victim having a police officer tell her, “It just may not be successful.” Not only would a victim be expected to repeat the trauma caused to her in the first place, but now her voice may not even matter.

Ghomeshi is a man of status. He is (was) a prominent, admired, and respected broadcaster whose show was even popular amongst Americans.

And that is one huge reason women, especially in this case, stayed quiet about their sexual assault: who would believe them?

In Ghomeshi’s case, one victim noted that she did go to those higher up about Ghomeshi’s actions towards her, but from her knowledge he was never reprimanded.

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Statistically speaking, many attackers get away with their crimes simply because there’s just not enough proof.

The numbers say it all.

If only we gave a more welcoming environment for sexual assault victims to say it all, as well.

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