“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” he wrote. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
The Dr. Ford he’s referencing is Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist and professor who said in a recent Washington Post article that Kavanaugh and another man allegedly pulled her into a bedroom at a party in the 1980s. She alleges that Kavanaugh pinned her down on the bed, groped her, and tried to take off her clothes, as well as cover her mouth when she tried to scream, before she managed to escape. Ford told the Post that she didn’t tell anyone about the alleged assault in detail until it came up in a couples therapy session with her husband in 2012.
Kavanaugh has called Ford’s accusations against him “completely false.” Trump previously spoke out about the allegations, saying that they were “very hard to imagine” and “hurting someone’s life.” Kavanaugh has reportedly received several death threats, and she and her family have had to leave their Northern California home.
But what Trump fails to mention — and several people pointed out in the comments of his tweet — is that many sexual assaults go unreported. Soon after Trump posed his tweet, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport started trending, with people — including actress Daryl Hannah — sharing their own stories about why they didn’t report their sexual assault.
I did, it didn’t matter, I was dismissed, disparaged, & I still get blamed #WhyIDidntReport
— Daryl Hannah (@dhlovelife) September 21, 2018
When I was 16, I had pretty much the same experience as Ford. My (supportive & loving) parents still don't know. At the time, I thought I might get in trouble for being there in the first place & also I was embarrassed & wanted badly to just forget. I never did. #WhyIDidntReport
— maura quint (@behindyourback) September 21, 2018
#WhyIDidntReport. Because my biological father tried to rape me when I was 14. He was a sociopath and a covert narcissistic personality disordered person and pretended to be a perfect parent in public. He was a church deacon. No one would have believed me and I knew it.
— Jamie B (@jambie61) September 21, 2018
I was humiliated. I knew everyone would find out. I was afraid it would ruin my professional reputation before I had even started. I was afraid they would not believe me and let him hold my grade back. I was afraid they would not let me graduate from law school. #WhyIDidntReport
— Amee KavaNOPE Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 21, 2018
I didn't report cuz I was afraid Dad would shoot the boy and go to jail and it would be my fault. I wish @RAINN had been around then.
— Laurie Halse Anderson (@halseanderson) September 21, 2018
I was 15. It took years for me to even *understand* that it wasn’t my fault.#WhyIDidntReport
— Jennifer Korey (@JenniferKorey) September 21, 2018
Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, according to data from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Of those, only 57 of those reports lead to arrest, 11 cases are referred to prosecutors, and only six perpetrators end up in jail.
“There remains a stigma around the issue of sexual violence in our society, and people that experience sexual violence are well aware of that,” Terri Poore, policy director for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Many know that even for the minority of survivors who make the difficult decision to come forward, only a tiny minority of cases will be prosecuted.”
American society has a history of victim-blaming “and thus one of the main reasons this crime is underreported is the fear of treatment upon coming forward,” Mike Domitrz, founder of the Date Safe Project, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Survivors often question if they will be believed and how they will be treated after coming forward. After experiencing a horrific trauma, many survivors do not want to be re-traumatized by society.”
Sexual assault is also hard to process, Sara McGovern, the press secretary for RAINN, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s hard to know how to react after sexual assault,” she says. “The survivor may be physically injured, emotionally drained, or unsure of what to do next. It can be incredibly difficult for survivors of sexual assault to disclose [it] to their closest family and friends, let alone law enforcement.” Many victims also fear that they won’t be believed, she adds.
It may be even harder for teens to come forward. “The younger someone is, the less likely they’ve been taught their rights when it comes to their boundaries, their body, consent, and sexual assault — especially regarding specific skills for addressing real-life situations they could encounter,” Domitrz says.
This alleged incident reportedly took place 36 years ago, when the culture was even worse for survivors, Domitrz says. “As difficult as it can be to report sexual assault today, many survivors from 36 years ago would share that it was even more difficult at that time,” he says. “There was little education around the support services that were available to survivors; police departments were not properly trained on how to treat survivors of sexual violence; laws didn’t protect survivors from perpetrators who used alcohol or drugs to facilitate sexual assault; consent was not being discussed anywhere in the education system.”
Ultimately, whether a victim of sexual assault wants to report the crime is up to them, Poore says. “They deserve a really good support system to figure out what is the best move for them,” she says. “Some people don’t want to go to police, but others do.”
Jess Davidson, interim executive director for End Rape on Campus, agrees: “It is not up to anyone, especially not President Trump, who has been accused of sexual violence himself, to tell survivors how to handle their assault,” she says.
Davidson adds: “Survivors are the experts of their own experiences, and the only thing they ‘should’ do is whatever the survivor feels they need for healing, justice, and, if they seek it, accountability. We have a collective responsibility to support survivors in making the choices that are right for them, rather than shaming them for their choices, as the president did today to Dr. Blasey Ford.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline for support at 800-656-4673.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Experts weigh in on judging Kavanaugh for alleged adolescent behavior: ‘Most teens don’t do that type of thing’
- Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser is getting death threats — inside the ‘psychology of trolls’
- Betsy DeVos’s new college plan allows alleged sexual offenders to demand proof from their victims