#WhyIDidntReport: Standing with Survivors

Recently, there has been another social media movement put together by advocates against sexual assault. The #WhyIDidntReport movement highlights individuals who did not, at least at the time of their assaults, feel comfortable enough to report it to authorities. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have come forward and shared stories regarding their horrendous experiences. Reasons for not reporting range from threats to not even understanding what happened to them at the time.

Reporting sexual assault to anyone, especially the authorities, is not an easy task.  Slut-shaming, public ridicule, and the belief that you are lying are just a couple of problems that victims may face. However, people still choose to come forward about the assault, even if it is years later.

Responses to sexual assault are not one size fits all. Every person who experiences it will have a different reaction and way of coping with it. Therefore, if it takes someone 30+ years to come forward about what happened to them, we cannot throw away what they are saying just because “it happened so long ago.” Yes, it happened a long time ago, and the victim of this assault has had to live with that on their shoulders since the day of the assault. The least we can do is punish those responsible for their actions. It doesn’t help that some states, such as Florida, have such a short statute of limitations

Contrary to popular belief, the rate of false reporting in sexual assault cases is low. With all the scrutiny that victims face from society, this is not surprising. However, whenever a new case of sexual assault comes to light (especially with cases regarding celebrities), people tend to use the excuse that these victims could be lying to “ruin their reputation.” However, the likelihood of that being true is slim. Some people just need to realize that as hard as it may be to believe, their once beloved idol is part of the growing problem of sexual assault.

This article isn’t being written to attack a specific individual or group of individuals. It should be a wake-up call, though. To the people who dismiss claims of sexual assault with the reasoning that it happened so long ago and/or the person reporting the assault could be lying, wake up. Of course, everyone deserves a trial and due process, but that does not mean throwing away the victims coming forward as an attack on the accused. Everyone deserves to be taken seriously, especially with such a serious issue as sexual assault.

Believe victims. You do not know how hard it was for them to come forward.

Sexual assault is a serious problem. If you or anyone you know need someone to talk to, the national sexual assault hotline number is 1-800-656-4673.

On campus, we have UCF Victim Services, who can be reached at 407-823-1200 (they can answer both reporting and non-reporting related questions).

In the event of an emergency, please call 911.

Images: Hero, 1, 2, 3