Still Wondering Why Women Don't Report Sexual Assault?

Updated on October 8, 2018
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

The New US Supreme Court Justice And Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

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Why Aren't Women Listened To?

Like so many others, I am incredibly unhappy that Brett Kavanaugh has been officially sworn in as the latest 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 is that a man who may not have been properly investigated is now sitting on the highest court in the land.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a woman's word about a sexual assault having happened seems to hold no weight.

There are reasons why out of every 1000 people charged with sexual assault, only 4 are successfully convicted, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Part of that is women simply being questioned for what they're wearing, their behaviors and who they were or are in that moment of the sexual assault allegedly occurring. Part of that is simply a desire by women to try and forget the whole thing even occurred in the first place.

There's also fear of nothing happening.

You don't want to relive what happened to you in court in hopes that the person being charged with sexual assault will be punished appropriately. You don't want to relive that sense of being violated at your most basic level or 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 he or she 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.

He has suggested she 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.

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.

Behaving like this 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 had gone through 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 because of the ordeal of trying to defend himself in a 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.


Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Mark 

        8 weeks ago

        Sorry Chris, but anyone who can see and hear knows Ford lied, and that Ford is an operative. Any analysis outside of that fact indicates misunderstanding. This is a misleading article. You're perpetuating the lie. That hurts everyone.

      • Ken Burgess profile image

        Ken Burgess 

        2 months ago from Florida

        This has been a tragedy for our nation.

        It is my belief that every bit of this was of political nature, and a weaponization of sexual assault for the most political gain they could get out of it.

        Never mind the harm done to Kavanaugh, this was an act of total disrespect for every victim of assault every step of the way.

        Why I think this:

        Ford is a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California. She “specializes in the design and analysis of clinical trials and other forms of intervention evaluation,” according to the university.

        Ford is a registered Democrat who has given monetary donations to political causes, and has worked in Democratic campaigns.

        This puts her in the realm of activist with the knowledge and ability of how to approach such an accusation to come across as most believable, while not putting herself in harms way for legal repercussions.

        For example:

        Unable to specifically state, when, where, how of the event.

        Giving a poorly hand written statement of the event... probably a textbook example of what many sexual victims present, what one would not expect from a tenured professor of means and experience.

        Using a little girl voice and her poor innocent me appearance in front of the Senate.

        To me this was all staged, from the timing of how it was released, to making sure at first it was known she didn't want to appear in front of the Senate, but then making sure she did, somehow all offers of traveling to her, or meeting behind closed doors, never reached her.

        This was made for TV, made for politics, and has probably been in the planning since Trump was elected, or at the very least since this nomination was made.

        It is my opinion that this has harmed almost everyone who witnessed it. Victims of sexual crimes who identify with Ford, the victim, who has not been taken at her word... and she can't be, when there is no corroboration, no proof, not even a specific date or place.

        It has harmed both political sides, helping separate people even more, as the Democrats especially ramped this up with their rhetoric coming out the day after the accusation became public with statements of its true, its beyond doubt, this has been played to cause the most harm, and divide people as much as possible.

        And if this did not happen, if she was never assaulted by Kavanaugh, this whole event, and all that partook of it, are despicable, twisted human beings.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Chris.... I too, am so sorry for the debilitating traumas you have had to handle in your life. I know you must be a very brave & wiser woman at this point, who can share so much of what you have learned with other women.

        Why so many women, especially in years past, never came forward & worse, did not report incidents to law enforcement. I believe in my years of work, involved with community Crisis Centers, I have heard every reason, every fear and each obstacle that can be imagined. Behind 90% of this reluctance is the overwhelming doubt of being believed/taken seriously. Truly understanding this last statement, one would have to witness first hand, the testimony of these hundreds of thousands of women of every age, background & specific lifestyle.

        In the broadest spectrum, there is so much involved, so much yet to be uncovered and studied, we can never falter in continually going forward in search of ways to encourage, assist and protect women who need to break through the barriers that hold them back in terms of speaking out and reporting immediately.

        One particular group of women I have worked with extensively is the oppressed, and/or abused married woman who stays with her offender. Yes, this extends beyond sexual abuse/attack, but the underlying lack of self-value, fear and doubt is all evident in these cases as well.

        Your article is well-presented and covers several important points. I wish you continued strength.

      • Kathleen Cochran profile image

        Kathleen Cochran 

        2 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

        Chris: I'm so sorry these things happened to you. No one deserves to go through something like that once, much less twice. Unless this has happened to you, I don't think anyone can judge how you handled the experience and its aftermath. And that is true for every person.

        I don't think Dr. Ford expected the hearings to turn out any way other than the way they did. I doubt there are many women who expected her testimony to make any difference. I certainly didn't. I hope what it did was tell women that their stories are important and should be told no matter if it affects anyone else or not. If it helps you deal with your trauma, then that is enough. Good luck.

      • profile image

        BradMasterOCca; 

        2 months ago

        The point is whether Brett Kavanaugh did anything to Christine Blasely.

        And the committee took her accusation seriously, but Dr. Ford didn't have Any corroboration to support it. You probably remember all the details, she didn't.

        The media and the democrats tried to make Kavanaugh the whipping boy for every sexual assault on all women, and that is not right.

        Today, they are still treating him like he is guilty. Besides no corroboration, she had zero details that could be investigated. And what women doesn't tell her best friend?

        What is your final opinion on Kavanaugh v Ford?

      • Christina St-Jean profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris St-Jean 

        2 months ago from Canada

        I have been sexually assaulted twice: once at 5 years old, and again in my 20s. In the first case, I brought the matter to my parents, who did nothing. The prevailing belief at the time, which was right around the same era as the Kavanaugh/Dr. Ford situation, was basically if you ignored it, it would go away and life would be normal. I did not even know the relative's name who did it to me, as I was young and it was my first time having met the guy. That does not diminish that it happened, and it doesn't make dealing with it through the years any less difficult. In the second instance, it was my second date with the man. He was in the military - a firefighter - with connections in law enforcement. He was also a very large man and the thought of confronting him in criminal court - of reliving what happened - frankly horrified me. We were in a room by ourselves when it happened. It sometimes isn't til years later that we feel brave enough to attempt to say something, and people sometimes won't corroborate our stories because they are fearful of reprisal and sometimes, they just don't want to get involved. Yes, there are those that lie and make things up - we can't control those individuals - but that does not mean those that do come forward should be taken any less seriously. Should Dr. Ford have taken the matter to police in 1982? Sure, but she may also at the time have been encouraged - or decided herself - not to do so because of the microscope she would have been under. There continues to be prevailing questions about the integrity of those who were sexually assaulted because it can be difficult to remember exact dates and timings. That is the nature of trauma. I'm not denying that Justice Kavanaugh went through the wringer here, and I'm not denying that there are a fair number of individuals in the world who will just say things about an individual for the sole purpose of bringing them down. However, we can't just dismiss sexual assault survivors - of which there are many - or their credibility because they can't find people brave enough to step forward and act as witnesses or remember exact times and dates. Sexual assault can happen to anyone - man or woman - and I pray that if either of my daughters or you go through what I went through, you are braver than I was at the time, and that there are those who believe you and will support you through the invasive questions about your relationships and intimate lives that come as a part of the investigative process.

      • bradmasterOCcal profile image

        Brad Masters 

        2 months ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

        You are wrong

        The republicans took Dr Ford's statement and made every effort for her to be able to tell it. But really how far would her accusation have gone if she had made a criminal report in Maryland when it happened. She would have had to fill in all those blanks.

        What did she bring to the senate judiciary committee, nothing, because senator Feinstein kept it secret until they were ready to vote for the confirmation.

        The proper path for Dr Ford was to have mailed the letter to the senate judiciary committee and they would have kept it private. And they would have investigated it privately rather then in public.

        There were too many flaws in her testimony and even more flaws in her actions.

        Why did she come forward?

        Well she now has $700,000 dollars in a growing go fund acct for her.

        Her costs were minimal because her two democrat activist attorney's worked for free.

        And these same attorneys didn't let her know that the senate committee would come to CA so she didn't have to fly.

        In Palo Alto CA where she works, they gave her a parade, and the major gave her a plaque. They didn't care that her accusations were without proof, and therefore without belief, truth or credibility. I won't lay it out for you here as I did several articles and you wouldn't believe them.

        If Dr Ford is the women you say is the reason why women don't come forward, then what did the senate judiciary committee do to dissuade her.

        The did the most important thing

        She made her accusation known finally, and they took it seriously

        That is the same thing as believing her story.

        But the next step is that it also has to be true.

        And that is where she failed.

        No dates, no places, no witnesses that corroborated her story, even the ones she gave to the committee. She didn't know how she got to the party, she didn't give any names of who was at the party, and she didn't anything about the party.

        Is that good enough to call judge Kavanaugh guilty of her accusation? NO.

        He provided many women from high school and throughout his career that said they never saw him act this way. While Dr Ford couldn't find Anyone that could agree with her.

        That is not judge Kavanaugh's fault, that was her fault.

        You probably believe people like Maize Hirono from Hawaii, of Feinstein, or Pelosi, or Kamela Harris, or Cory Booker, or Chuck Schumer, or the Hollywood actors.

        But consensus doesn't equal the truth, only the truth is the truth.

        And the truth here is that Judge Kavanaugh is innocent.

        Your belief about Dr Ford opposes the protections of due process and the presumption of innocence. And this could happen to your son.

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