Why it’s tough for sexual assault victims to admit they were sexually assaulted

Can #FGKIA shut down rape mentality?

Society tends to fault the victim in sexual assault cases:

  • “They were where they shouldn’t be.”
  • “They dressed inappropriately.”
  • “They didn’t fight the offender off.”

When we think about the word “rape,” often the image of being dragged into a dark alley by a stranger, and violently overwhelmed, comes to mind. And for some, nothing less constitutes a sexual assault.

The reality of fight, flight or freeze

In bygone days, if the victim failed to fight or make efforts to flee, no rape determination could be made. Today most penal codes recognize that the victim might be so petrified that they simply freeze, (tonic immobility) or they’re so intimidated they don’t want to risk more severe injury by struggling against an overpowering predator. Yet much of society still believes the myth that fighting back or trying to escape are incumbent on the victim.

Society also has the misconception that women who are not virtuous suspend their right to self-determination over their personal sexual conduct and safety. To people with this mindset, any sexual act, even kissing, is an invitation to trouble, and the victim gets what they deserve. That belief not only resides in the minds of offenders and onlookers, but also in the minds of the victims themselves.

When a victim steps into a position where they’re sexually assaulted, they think it couldn’t be rape…. despite that they never “consented” to the sexual conduct, or the type of sexual conduct they experienced. Self shaming is a huge burden that suppresses reality.

How can defining “consent” help?

Doubt continues to exist because much of society lacks a clear sense of  what the word “consent” really means – freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement – and the understanding that both parties are entitled to consent to both the action itself and the actor in all sexual conduct.

It’s difficult for a victim to face the awful truth that they were defiled. When they were not violently overwhelmed, the likelihood that they’ll be believed is abysmally low. It’s far easier to chalk up a sexual assault to “bad sex” and try to move on.

When the method of undermining you was deception, your own confusion about your personal culpability, your interest in protecting yourself from feeling defiled, and society’s invalidation, all prevent you from recognizing and admitting the truth… you weren’t seduced, you were sexually assaulted.

As we can see by all the victims who’ve expressed their #MeToo and #TimesUp stories, after repressing their issues for many years, no matter what form sexual assault takes, it creates a permanent change in your psyche that begs you to address it, for your own peace of mind and empowerment.

 

One thought on “Why it’s tough for sexual assault victims to admit they were sexually assaulted”

  1. In 2014 when I was raped I too remember that I froze. I could not in any way make a decision on what to do at that time. It took many months to even come to grips with what happened to me as if I was in denial and ashamed. It is a horrible realty when you admitted to yourself let alone others what really happened to you. You were violated in the worst way and without your consent.

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