During the years that I was a Licensed Professional Counselor my main focus was the treatment of children and adults who had been sexually abused AND juvenile and adult sex offenders. When the topic of sexual misconduct rises to a national level we get to see just how much Joe Q Public doesn't understand about this stuff. So, it provides a good opportunity to share a little info for anyone who may be interested. Also, for the first time ever I want to share my personal story.
Common Themes on “Why Women (and men and boys and girls) Don't Report Sexual Assault”
- It is extremely embarrassing.
- Victims can feel they did something to bring it on themselves.
- Feeling unbearable shame.
- Afraid nobody will believe them.
- Afraid of being labeled weak.
- Feel that as an intelligent person they shouldn't have allowed this to happen.
- Afraid of losing a job or standing or respect within social circle, church or other community.
Men Who Perpetrate Sexual Assault
- There is not necessarily a “type” or “look” of woman that is more or less likely to be victim.
- Some men are genuinely convinced what they are doing is not wrong.
- Men who sexually assault women are handsome, ugly, fat, thin, rich, poor, black, brown, white, etc.
- While men of all shapes and sizes can be perpetrators, it is very often the situation that there is a power differential between the man and woman that favors the man. This is why you hear things like “rape is not about sex, it's about power and control.”
- “I don't need to [rape, assault, harass] a woman to get sex or attention.” is a bogus defense. Even very popular men assault because it's not about a natural relationship, it's about having power over the victim.
If you find yourself thinking, “No way would I keep my mouth shut if something like that happened to me,” please allow me to share this personal story. When I was 15 yrs old a man in my hometown pinned me to a wall, shoved his tongue into my mouth, and pressed himself into my body. I was absolutely frozen. I could not move. Not sure how long it lasted. When he backed off me & I started to walk away in a daze, he smacked my behind and said with a chuckle, "Ya gotta get it any way you can." I went behind the building we were in and vomited.<br /><br />It was 30 years before I could share that story with my mother. I felt so ashamed, wondered what I had done to bring this on myself, was afraid if my dad found out he would literally kill this man and I was so, so very, VERY embarrassed. As I got older I felt sharing my experience would expose me as weak. I did tell a couple of girlfriends when it happened and that was when I began to learn how insanely prevalent inappropriate sexual contact really is.
I share my story now to stand strong with the thousands of girls and women who need our understanding and to prove to myself and anyone who may need to read it that;
- It is not our fault.
- The shame is not ours, it's his.
- We did not ask for it.
- We are not weak or stupid.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children
National Center for Victims of Crime