#WhyWomenDontReport explains why women are reluctant to come forward when they’ve been assaulted
Thanks to Donald Trump and his followers, we’re getting a primer on why women don’t come forward with accusations of sexual assault.
Because people don’t believe them. Because people put the burden of proof on the victim. Because people brush aside traumatic assault and harassment like it’s “no big deal.” There’s no better example of this than what’s happening surrounding the current accusations against Donald Trump.
This is beyond politics. It’s beyond party. Vilifying women who come forward to report assault is just deplorable behavior. Especially when there are so many reasons why they don’t come forward sooner.
This week two women were so disgusted by Trump’s response to the lewd tape that surfaced that they just couldn’t keep silent anymore. They were both watching the presidential debate, watching Trump insist he’d never acted on the behavior he boasted about: kissing women without their consent and “grabbing their pussy.” Each of these women had experienced exactly this: one claims Trump forced himself on her and kissed her without her consent, the other claims he shoved his hand up her skirt while she was sitting next to him during a flight. They took their stories to the New York Times. Of course, his supporters (and him) are trying to discredit their claims.
This inspired Vox’s Liz Plank to take to Twitter to ask her followers why they didn’t report assault, using the hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport.
Her followers began telling their stories.
I don’t think I can name a female friend who hasn’t experienced harassment or assault. As a bartender for nearly 20 years I experienced more harassment than I can even recount. I’ve been sexually assaulted twice. Did I report it? No. I shouldn’t have to have an explanation for that, and I don’t even know what it would be. I was terrified? I was coping by making the situation seem less horrible in my mind? Would I feel compelled to say something if either of these people were running for office and repeatedly denying assault claims?
Women are walking around feeling like we’re covered in open wounds — because we are. It’s hard to explain what walking around your whole life feeling unsafe feels like. It’s even harder when you’re surrounded by people minimizing sexual harassment and assault. We’ve watched Trump bully, harass, and attempt to intimidate Hillary Clinton — Senator, Secretary of State, presidential candidate. If not even she is immune to this, how can we ever hope to be?
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