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Why Are Reports of Sexual Assault Ignored?
Like so many others, I was incredibly unhappy that Brett Kavanaugh was officially sworn in a United States Supreme Court Justice. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified about her experiences with Kavanaugh, the Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into the allegations, and the end result was that a man who may not have been properly investigated now sits on the highest court in the land.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a woman's word about a sexual assault seems to hold no weight.
There are reasons why, out of every 1,000 people charged with sexual assault, only 4 are successfully convicted, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Women are questioned about what they're wearing, what they did, and how they might have prevented the sexual assault from occurring. Some women would rather try to forget the whole thing even occurred in the first place.
There's also the fear that even if they report the crime, nothing will happen.
You might not want to relive what happened to you in court, even if avoiding more trauma will will prevent the person who assaulted you from being punished. You might not want to relive that event of being violated at your most basic level and that feeling that the hottest shower on the planet won't ever erase the sense of hands touching where you didn't want (or worse, those same hands restraining you so that your assaulter could do what they wanted).
You don't want to be mocked (as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was by none other than President Trump) in the aftermath of your testimony, which you've always been told was the right thing to do. (Kavanaugh suggested Dr. Blasey Ford should remember far more about the alleged incident than she testified to, and at one point reportedly tweeted that had the sexual assault occurred, Dr. Blasey Ford's parents would have reported the matter to the police.)
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News flash: Even though parents should immediately report if their child reveals inappropriate behavior has occurred, not all parents do, for a range of reasons. There are significant fears that the aftermath of reporting sexual assault can put the person who reports through the wringer, which it does, and can cause a great deal of strife within a family, which it can.
Having these understandable feelings means the matter can get swept away like it doesn't matter.
While we must live by the idea that people have to be "innocent until proven guilty," it's difficult to watch testimonies like Dr. Blasey Ford's and its aftermath and feel as though your voice matters when it comes to sexual assault. The follow up investigation into Dr. Blasey Ford's testimony was little more than a joke, at least as reported by several media outlets. Why weren't Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey Ford interviewed, for instance?
I was interviewed by a victims' compensation board a number of years ago regarding a sexual assault I experienced at a very young age. While the questions were for the most part pertinent, and this was most definitely not a criminal trial I was testifying at, questions about my behaviors while on dates or in my relationships with members of the opposite sex made me unbearably uncomfortable, and I could not help but think how much worse this would feel if I was facing down the man who assaulted me across a courtroom.
Dr. Blasey Ford testified and, while now-Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh was never charged for any crime and almost certainly went through his own brand of hell trying to defend himself during the hearing, it seems as though Dr. Blasey Ford might as well have never said anything at all. Did Judge Kavanaugh come out of the experience looking poised and dignified? No, but I suppose if you're being accused by someone of sexual assault that would definitely be upsetting in the extreme. He, too, was mocked for his behavior through this experience.
That said, it was still believed that there was not enough in Dr. Blasey Ford's testimony to justify keeping Judge Kavanaugh from his appointment to the Supreme Court.
While it is understandable that an accusation is not proof of guilt, it's still incredibly disappointing that it would seem that yet again, a woman stepping forward with accusations of sexual assault appears to have been mostly ignored.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.