Amid Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination scandal, unfolding in front of the public eye and his defense team consisting of a misogynistic president infamously known to be a womanizer and perpetrator of attempted rape to his own ex-wife, victims around the world are reliving the trauma of sexual assault with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony. A history of double standards within the rape culture is revealed as thousands of survivors tell their stories with the recent social media trend #WhyIDidntReport.
President Donald Trump showed no remorse as more and more victims shared their #WhyIDidntReport stories, tweeting that victims similar to Ford should not wait 35 years to report to authorities, but “immediately file.”
According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), the reasons why most victims do not report right after a rape occurs is because he or she fears retaliation from the rapist, believes the police would not help, believes it was not important enough to report – or because the victim knew the perpetrator and did not want to cause trouble. For these reasons and many other undeniably upsetting reasons, many victims refuse to report after a rape.
When a rape case comes up in our society, it is apparent that jeopardizing man’s reputation is worth more than the expense of the lifelong shame and pain a woman undergoes. This creates a shift of blame to the rape victim instead, ergo victim blaming.
Out of 1000 rape cases, only 310 victims have enough courage to report it to authorities, making it the number one under reported crime according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). Questioning a man’s character of whether he committed a rape or not happens regardless if the victim is either female or male. For men who have unfortunately experienced being raped, their vulnerability is put on the line and causes them just as much shame as it does for women, making the rape case that much harder to report.
The harsh reality that lies underneath this terrible crime is in the fact that a majority of rape cases occur early on in a person’s life, such as college or high school, and haunts them for the rest of his or her life. In more severe cases it happens during someone’s childhood, before a child is even educated on consent or can defend themselves.
The NSVRC reported that over 90 percent of sexual assault cases go unreported on college campuses and only 12 percent of child sexual abuse are actually reported to authorities. As stories continue to surface, I cannot help but imagine how many of my peers throughout high school and college experienced dark nights similar to the memories Dr. Ford shared at Capitol Hill.
“I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget,” said Ford in her testimony on Sept. 27. “They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me…”
She recalls the distinct chuckles and hollars coming from Kavanaugh and his friend stating, “having fun at my expense.” All that is heard that night in the bedroom are the muffles of her muted cries as Kavanaugh’s forceful hand silences her mouth shut from giving out a single cry for help.
Rape exists in all tiers of society. Rape does not discriminate. Rape affects the young and old, the rich and poor, both men and women. In eight out of 10 rape cases, the victim and assaulter are not strangers to each other. One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at least once in their lifetime; however, out of 1000 reported rape cases, 994 perpetrators will walk freely.
Let us not forget those whose voices were ignored and experiences discredited before having a chance at receiving justice. Let us not forget that this past week another man walked freely, this time onto the Senate floor. Let us not forget the reasons why so many refused to report because as survivors they will never forget.