By now you’re aware of the #MeToo movement and there have been countless reports of men and women coming forward with their stories/experiences of being sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, and sexually abused. It’s about time that we acknowledge these victims/survivors that have been taken advantage of, abused, mistreated and more importantly that we listen and BELIEVE them.
I’ve talked about this topic in my book and in this blog as well as on various social media platforms and I’ll keep talking about it until changes are made. Right now the laws protect the abusers and silence/shame the victims and that needs to stop.
How is it that we as a society continue to turn a blind eye when clearly there are thousands of victims coming forward which means countless crimes have been committed and their abusers are still out in public not being held accountable? I’ll tell you why…
Here’s an example: We have a 70-year-old woman that just moved into her new apartment. The landlord meets her to give her the keys and makes the comment that he’d gladly take sex as payment and asks for her to think about it. The woman feels harassed (rightfully so), she feels threatened and scared so she does the right thing and reports the incident to the police. The male officer asks if there is anyone that witnessed this, to which she says “no, I was there alone with him.” The officer replies with, “I don’t think you should worry about it, I think he was only flirting with you.”
Do you see the problem with how the officer handled that situation? If you answered no, allow me to enlighten you. First, the woman did the right thing, she came forward immediately. She felt threatened, scared and wanted to file a report because she felt that her safety is at risk and she had just been sexually harassed.
What went wrong is how the officer handled the situation. Rather than actually taking the report and having a paper trail in the event that the landlord makes a second attempt; the officer dismisses the woman’s claim completely and brushes it off as “flirting”, so there is no crime in flirting. Second, as he clearly pointed out, there wasn’t a witness, so how does he know that the landlord was only flirting if he himself was not there to witness it and make that judgment call.
Last but not least, the officer completely down played the situation and may have assumed that since the woman is a senior that a sexual predator wouldn’t target her. I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it: Sexual predators don’t discriminate against age, race, gender, or religion. They do however prey on those they feel that they can manipulate and easily take advantage of.
If you’ve taken a moment to read through the #WhyIDidntReport claims you will notice similarities as to why victims don’t come forward right away. Things like the sexual predator using blackmail, extortion, gaslighting, scare tactics, drug/alcohol induced (date rape), their position of power/authority ( Religous leaders, Movie executives, Military officers, Doctors, Government officials) or their celebrity status (paying them off) to keep their victim(s) quiet. The most common form of victim silencing is family members turning a blind eye, family not wanting to admit that there is a sexual predator in the house.
Parents have a duty an obligation to protect your child(ren), right? What happens when it’s your spouse, your sibling, or your oldest child that is a sexual predator? It’s easy to sit back and come to the conclusion that you remove the threat in order to protect your child no matter the cost.
It’s not so easy to call the police on your husband if he’s the breadwinner. It’s not so easy to admit that your own sibling or oldest child is a monster. In most cases, when a child does come forward to a parent, it’s much easier to dismiss that child’s claim and make them think the sexual abuse they endured is all in their head, it never happened, they are never to speak of it again.
They are only a child after all, kids fabricate stories and have wild imaginations, so who’s going to believe them, right? It’s this way of thinking that has been the problem for years and it has to stop! Young children don’t know what sex or rape is, so when they come forward don’t dismiss it. You are the adult, so be the adult and do the right thing! It’s not up to the child to go to the police or go to the hospital for a rape test, it’s up to you, the parent to protect them and see this the whole way through because your child needs you.
Here’s my #WhyIDidntReport story. **** SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ MY BOOK*****
I was 8 years old when I had my first encounter with my mother’s boyfriend. I endured several accounts of sexual abuse/rape over a 14 month period. During the first encounter I was made to believe that my mother wouldn’t believe me, he said he would deny everything and that I would risk my only parent not loving me anymore. There were many times that I heard that this would be the “last time” which it wasn’t. One night he took his handgun out from his dresser and placed it next to my head while he was raping me. I was not cooperating ( I never made it easy for him, but I was always overpowered) to which he felt the need to go to that extreme and he made threats of killing my mother and my brother if I ever came forward. Death threats that I believed as a 9-year-old. My mother walked in on what would be my last encounter with her boyfriend while his son and my brother were sleeping in the next room. I told my mother what had been going on for the last year, where the encounters happened, the threats he made and he told my mother his side of the story (more lies). My mother didn’t know who to believe. Turns out her boyfriend was right, my mother didn’t believe me and I chose to spend the rest of the night sleeping in the car (locked myself inside) because I did not feel safe sleeping under the same roof as my abuser. If my mother wouldn’t do anything to protect me, clearly I was on my own. A rape test was performed the morning after and the proof my mother needed was confirmed but that didn’t stop her from having a relationship with a pedophile.
Do you think an officer would have believe me if I came forward on my own? Naturally, the officer would want to talk to my mother and her boyfriend about my claims, and how do you think that scenario would play out? My mother didn’t believe me even after walking in on the encounter. She opted to stay in a relationship with my abuser even after the doctor confirmed that forceful penetration had occurred, that semen had been collected, it was tested and belonged to her boyfriend. If my own parent decided not to protect me, what was I suppose to do at 9-years-old?
My story is a prime example as to why victims don’t come forward right away. It’s not that we don’t want to come forward, it’s because we have been made to feel that we CAN’T come forward. We’ve witnessed time and time again what happens when those victims with enough courage do come forward, which is that the abuser is free to keep abusing and the victim is made to suffer in silence. If a rape test isn’t performed immediately after the incident (up to 48 hours after), then there is no proof that it happened unless there is a witness (in most cases there isn’t, or if there is, the witness doesn’t want to get involved).
What about the cases of sexual harassment, groping, inappropriate touching, fondling or oral sex taking place? These all fall under he said, she said (not to suggest that this couldn’t happen between the same sex). Without a witness, video, pictures, or audio it is very hard to prove and in most cases these claims go ignored, they get played down to flirting or chalked up as a misunderstanding while the victim(s) goes on feeling violated, ignored, and made to feel as if they somehow deserved it or asked for it.
Sexual predators are never sorry, they show no remorse, spending a few months in jail/prison only serves as a slap on the wrist. Sexual predators are only sorry that they have been exposed. They are sorry that their victims have united together against them so that justice can be served. Those sexual predators that pay off their victims are STILL sexual predators, the only difference is, they have money to throw around to keep their victims quiet and to pay their staff/associates to look the other way.
We need to look passed the celebrity status, the affluent sexual predators, the elected government/religous sexual predators and knock them off of the pedestal and recognize that they ARE sexual predators, they ARE criminals and need to be treated as such. No special favors granted, no shorter sentences because they are a young athlete with a bright future ahead, no going back to work after a few months of not being on television, no going back to the comedy clubs and no more putting them back out in public to continue sexually assaulting more people! Right now, this is the message being sent to all sexual predators.
Why are people so quick to discredit the claims from victims? When you don’t know the victim, the family, or the abuser why are so many people compelled to jump in with their opinion that a false claim is being made? Open your eyes folks, try putting yourself in our shoes and ask, “What do the victims coming forward have to gain?”
We want to be believed, we want to be heard, we want closure, we want to feel safe and stop sleeping with one eye open, we want justice for the crime committed against us, and we want to raise awareness to bring to light just how often crimes of this nature happen, and show where they are happening and how they are being dealt with. We are speaking up, but are you really listening?
Changes need to be made, there has got to be a better way to process these cases that protects the victims instead of protecting the abuser. There has got to be a more efficient way of processing the rape tests that have been sitting in an evidence storage room for years. We have to start holding people accountable on all levels in this process, the abusers, the officers, the lawyers, the judges, the lab technicians, our family members.
In the end it’s a matter of choosing to be a part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.