#WhyIDidntReport Stories Surface, And They’re Heartbreaking
With the recent happenings in Hollywood and in our nation's capital, the #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport movements are giving strength to those who feel helpless.
There are many reasons victims of abuse might not speak up right away: fear of being labeled promiscuous, fear of familial backlash, fear of retribution from the abuser, fear of being called a liar, fear of having to face the abuser in a courtroom, fear of facing the stigma and shame so wrongly associated with being abused - there are many reasons. One of the biggest, from what I understand, is the feeling of being "alone".
I can not speak for the abused because, luckily, it never happened to me. I have friends and family members who were abused by strangers, clergy, even their own family members, and they all mention one or more of the reasons above for not reporting the abuse. Another thing that they mention is that they find strength in knowing that they are not alone. Being able to meet with others who have had the same experience helps them talk about the abuse, facing it straight-on instead of trying to live with it in silence, and, for some, it gives them the courage to finally speak up, publicly, about the abuse.
Speaking up, naming the abuser and, hopefully, pressing charges might be enough for some victims to start to repair the damage caused by the abuse, with the added hopes of protecting others from that abuser.
With the accusations levied against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a renewed social discussion has emerged. Many supporters are asking "Why are they just now stepping up? Why didn't they report it years ago, when it first happened?" The #WhyIDidntReport posts tell us why some victims did not report, and the reasons are heartbreaking.
The Stop It Now organization is a great resource for understanding the reasons why some victims don't report abuse right away. The site also outlines abuse warning signs, prevention tools, links to other online resources and it provides a confidential helpline for those who need someone to talk to (1.888.PREVENT).
Victims deserve to be heard, and they deserve justice.
Even with so many agencies and organizations that provide help for the abused, friends and family members available to listen, and groups that meet regularly to help each other through the tough times, there are still victims who are so scared that they will NEVER mention a word of the abuse they suffered. Ever. They will take it to their grave. It is for them that my heart breaks most.
Please, don't ever ridicule the abused. If you do, you are part of the problem.