Studies have shown that nearly one in five women have experienced some sort of sexual assault in their lifetime. Of these women, only 15.8 to 35 percent actually report it. With an issue this common why is sexual assault not talked about more openly? Why are there not more awareness forums or discussions around sexual assault? Why do these women prefer to keep silent rather than seeking out justice for what they have experienced? There are many reasons why a victim prefers to remain silent about abuse rather than speaking. And unfortunately our society plays a huge role as to why. When someone becomes a victim of sexual assault, they experience not only physical but emotional trauma. One of those traumas is the sense of self-blame. A victim feels as if it was their own fault for which this incident occurred. Part of the reason why victims feel this fault can be attributed to society. The typical questions asked by police and detectives after a sexual assault are “what was she wearing?” “Was she drinking?” “How much was she drinking?” By asking these types of questions they are indirectly blaming the victim. This is where society fails. What a victim was wearing when the incident occurred does not give anyone the right to assault her.
Another reason why a victim prefers to keep silent rather than speaking up is fear of the justice system. Enduring a trial with the person who committed the assault is a long exhausting process. There’s a fear of lack of evidence to prove that there was no consent. It would ultimately be the victim’s word against the abuser. For the victim, having to contest against the person who assaulted her face to face and having people she isn’t telling the truth addes an unnecessary burden. That is on top of dealing with the incident, it’s not an easy task and will cause the victim more emotional trauma. It is also common for the victim to know her abuser.
The ugly truth about our society is that we have socialized the idea of a patriarchal society. Even though there are male sex assault victims, it is more common for the victim to be a woman. Victims fear that the police will not do anything to help, they fear that they will be judged and looked down upon by friends and families. They fear the justice system and the victims blame themselves. Our societies goal should be to erase that fear and allow victims that platform and confidence to speak and be heard!