What happens when Women speak up about Sexual Assault? Let’s discuss…
Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted.
97% of the time a sexual assault is reported…It.Is.TRUE.
Most humans would agree that if there were a 97% chance of ANYthing, they would believe it. Period.
When Women speak up, they are triggering their own trauma. Maybe it has been decades, years, months or days ... Recounting your experience, talking about your story, having people tell you their stories, advocating for more women to speak up and reliving your worst nightmare … It sets your own personal healing back. Even when you think you are “healed” from a trauma, there will always be triggers and speaking up, as empowering as it is … is a constant trigger.
“Healing isn’t linear. There may be back-steps. But we do know that victims overwhelmingly do heal. If people disclose a sexual assault to you, believe them. Thank them for sharing their story. Ask what they need next, because empowerment is that critical piece to giving someone back control over their life and their destiny.” Jaime Sathasivam
When someone trusts you with the most delicate information possibly of their life…The most important thing that you can do as family, friends or neighbors is BELIEVE THEM.
97 freaking percent. Remember?
It is NOT easy to share and relive. If we share, it is because we are entrusting you with a piece of our story. Please be delicate. Believe Survivors.
Only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported.
The reasons these go unreported can be for a variety of reasons:
-Survivors often disassociate.
-We don’t know how to think about it.
-We don’t know how to accept it.
-Humiliation, Blame, Shame and Grief overwhelm us.
-Sometimes Fear takes over. For our safety, our lives and even the lives of our loved ones.
-Repression, Avoidance Coping and Fear, which is biologically proven as an effect of sexual violence.
-Victims’ fear of not being believed
-Being ostracized from friends, groups or shared living spaces
-What friends and family will think.
-Survivors also might have a desire to move on and are sometimes unwilling to “ruin the life” of the accused, whom they often know.
Our human brains are not wired to handle trauma. We often disassociate and the memories get locked up in a box hanging by a thread outside our body. Until one day, the box explodes. Usually a trigger will ignite the flame … and when the flame bursts, we are stuck with the relentless fear, shame, panic, anxiety and memories and lack of control that we felt the very moment we were abused.
PTSD is commonly associated with combat veterans, but around 50 percent of PTSD cases in the US develop in the aftermath of sexual or physical violence.
Lady Gaga explains her experience with PTSD: “I felt like I was lying to the world because I was feeling so much pain but nobody knew," she said. "So that’s why I came out and said that I have PTSD, because I don’t want to hide—any more than I already have to…it was something that really changed my life. It changed who I was completely.”
Fear of Retaliation often prevents the victim from speaking up and for rightful cause. It has been proven OVER and over again that:
The abuser and those in powerful positions will spew threats, distill fear, call the victim a liar and try to brand them as such, they will use manipulation and coercion to force others to brand the victim a liar even if they were once close friends, family and witnesses. Those in power will at all costs try to discredit the victim and prove that “she deserved it” based on photos, she is a gold digger, her appearance, she wants attention, she is provocative based on what she was wearing or moments of fun such as dancing with friends or “she was drinking”.
Powerful people will try to intimidate.
I was once told, the Lion is the most aggressive when it is the most vulnerable. Aggression and shouting fear and threats to a Sexual Violence Survivor who has come forward, shows there is more they are hiding, they know they have done wrong and simply don’t want to take accountability and get caught.
When the right thing to do is side with the Survivor, powerful people and friends will often times side with the abuser. Even if they know better. Out of fear, vulnerability, manipulation and even bribery. This is the system we need to find the power and strength to change in our society. This is why speaking up and out is more important than ever. THIS MADNESS has to change and we can’t and WILL NOT back down.
If you support Women who come forward on television, Lady Gaga, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Reese Witherspoon or Taylor Swift … SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS. They need you more than anyone else. If you share, tweet, or speak up about Women’s Rights … BELIEVE YOUR FRIENDS and show them the same if not MORE support than you would show any celebrity that comes forward.
Speaking up is terrifying. It is triggering. It is painful. It is empowering yet shameful in the same moment.
When a Women you know comes forward, Believe Her. That is the single most empowering, healing and direct action that you can do to encourage healing and to put an end to the sexual violence that is affecting 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 6 men. We can do this together. But not alone. One Women can use her voice and say NO MORE … But many Women and MEN standing together can change the world and create a safer place for ourselves, our families, our children to grow up in, our friends and our neighbors. Together WE CAN.