I am the victim of sexual assault. It was a long time ago. No, I never reported it. Why? Well, I felt like it was somehow my fault, that no one would believe me, that he would deny it, that I would be humiliated even further. I blamed myself for putting myself in the situation that enabled him to do what he did to me. It took years for me to even acknowledge it was sexual assault, much less deal with the emotional fallout, and trust me, there was a LOT of emotional fallout. It’s not something you ever get over or forget.
All the reasons I never told anyone are all the reasons these women, and men, coming forward now to report sexual assaults, abuses, and harassment rather than years ago when they happened. And all the people pushing back only reinforce the rightness of their silence in the victims’ minds.
I’ve been filled with righteous anger the last couple of weeks at the insensitivity towards these victims, the ignorance of the naysayers saying they must be lying, or that they waited until just this moment to “ruin” the abusers’ lives. They have no idea how much these victims have suffered, how their lives have been ruined. That disbelief, that pushback is exactly why victims keep their mouths shut. Reinforcing that only does more damage, makes them believe maybe it didn’t happen, maybe it wasn’t what they thought, maybe it was their fault and they asked for it.
So stop asking them why now, stop questioning their motives, their motivation for coming forward now. Listen to them, support them, let them know you believe them, and it isn’t their fault what happened to them. Asking “why now” just makes you part of the problem, adds to the rape culture that exists in our world.