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The Importance of Reporting Sexual Assault Immediately

sexual assault

Over the past few weeks, Americans have witnessed a surge of sexual assault allegations against prominent men in politics and Hollywood. Men like Harvey Weinsten, Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, and others have faced accusations of rape, groping, unwanted sexual contact, and more. While sexual assault is a horrific deed which deserves serious attention and investigations, waiting decades to report accounts is highly problematic.

The Pitfalls of Waiting Decades To Reports Sexual Assault

The immediate reporting of sexual assault is important for several reasons. First and foremost, the sooner the crime is revealed, the easier it is to take action. If someone is raped, or otherwise assaulted, reporting the crime immediately allowed law enforcement officers to investigate and collect evidence. Rape kits, the viewing of security footage, collection of clothing, and other forms of evidence are paramount when analyzing claims of sexual misconduct. The aforementioned things make it easier for police officers to do their job. If the victim knows his or her assailant, they can identify them and allow law enforcement to act from that point forward.

When a predator commits sexual crimes and the proper authorities are not alerted, it emboldens the predator to continue their behavior. Rarely will a sexual predator stop after one, two, or even ten victims. The more they get away with it, the more their behavior escalates. How many women could have been saved from Harvey Weinstein’s gross predation if one of his earlier victims had come out and reported his behavior immediately?

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Source: Pixabay

Unfortunately, the more time that passes after sexual assault, the less credible accusations become in the eyes of many people. For instance, women who accused Republican Roy Moore of sexual misconduct were not believed. Countless critics questioned why his accusers waited decades to come forth. Others dismissed the allegations as politically motivated weapons employed to sabotage Moore’s campaign.

Truthfully, the only people who know whether or not Moore assaulted his accusers are Moore and his accusers. However, had these women reported the alleged crimes immediately, the proper action and investigations could have followed. If Roy Moore really did force himself on underage teenage girls, he absolutely deserves to be brought to justice. However, bringing sexual abusers to justice is much easier to do immediately after their crimes rather than decades later.

Reasons Why Victims of Sexual Assault May Wait to Come Forward

In a perfect world, victims of sexual assault would immediately come forward. However, there are some reasons that could discourage them from doing so. If the abuser is popular, powerful, or rich, the victim may feel as though they will not be believed. Abusers may also threaten to hurt their victims or loved ones of the victims. All of these are very real possibilities and unfortunately, sexual assault has not always been viewed as a serious offense.

Despite the challenges that often accompany the reporting of sexual assault, it is still critical for victims to do so. It is the most likely possibility they have of getting justice for what was wrongly done to them. Moreover, it sends a message to the abuser that they cannot bully their victims or buy their silence.

A Encouraging Word For Going Forward

Sadly, the accusations against prominent public figures will not halt sexual assault. There will always be sick predators who believe they are entitled to other people’s bodies. There will always be bad people who seek to harm others. These predators will often employ the aforesaid tactics of bullying, threats, and worse to intimidate their victims into silence. Giving into these scare tactics only allows predators to win.

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Source: Pixabay

Victims deserve to be heard. Sexual predators deserve to be held accountable for their crimes. However, as difficult as this may be, the only way to bring sexual predators to justice and halt repeat occurrences is for victims to speak out immediately. They owe it to themselves and to others who may be assaulted.

 

Liberal Counterpoint:

The Problem with Saying “The Importance of Reporting Sexual Assault Immediately”

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3 Comments

  1. Sarah Fehr March 27, 2021

    Hello,

    As a victim of Child Sexual Abuse and multiple sexual assaults who has just come forward after several years to report everything, I find this article very misleading and victim-shaming and blaming. It does not speak to the many factors involved in not reporting, only gives a nod to a couple of them. It also is not trauma informed.

    The section stating the reasons why people may wait to come forward is misleading in that it doesn’t state all of the reasons, but lists only a fraction of them as if they were the only reasons involved. I go into some more reasons, but not all, about why victims may wait to report.

    All sexual assault victims will respond with a variable degree of PTSD. The severity of these symptoms has to do with many factors, including how well supported the victim is at the time of the traumatic event.

    For someone to report sexual abuse/assault immediately, they have to be in a position where at least one person believes them about the event and believes in them. Usually someone with authority. If the abuser is in a position of authority or power over them, it may take many years before a victim can get out of the abusive relationships around them and into a healthier and more empowered state where they feel they can report the crime without their ability to survive affected by reporting.

    Also, sometimes the victim’s brain will use coping mechanisms of amnesia to “forget” the occurance occurred, only to be triggered later on when say, their abuser is going to be taking on a role of increasing influence or power, or when others have reported similar occurances. There is also safety in numbers, which is why people may come forward to report when they know others have also done so.

    Also, the suggestion that an immediate report will ensure an accurate investigation is highly misleading. Reports are influenced heavily by the people being reported to, and can be swayed by their pre-conceived ideas.

    Further, reporting can be re-traumatizing to victims, where you may have to convince officers that this horrific thing happened to you, especially if it goes to court. The court process can rip victims apart with no shame, and many people avoid reporting for this reason.

    We need to support victims and encourage them to report even after years of silence. It is when we start to believe everyone who comes forward with accusations of sexual misconduct, assault, and abuse that this part of our culture really starts to shift.

    I believe that you want to be a part of that culture shift, but this article only perpetuates the shame and responsibility placed on victims of a terrible crime to do more than they may be capable of. It is up to everyone to change the story, and stop sexual assault. Please consider this in the future, and consider re-writing this article, writing a better-researched article, or at the very least, taking this article down. And when researching this in the future, include trauma-awareness, talk to victims, and do not put more pressure on them than there already is.

    Kindly,
    Sarah

    Reply
  2. Sarah March 27, 2021

    This article does little to stop the cycle of victim-shaming and blaming. In fact, as a victim of Child Sexual Abuse and multiple Sexual Assaults, I find it dismissive of the complex reactions to sexual assault and the trauma that comes with it.

    Here are some helpful articles that accurately represent victims of sexual assault:

    https://theridgewoodblog.net/reasons-why-you-should-report-cases-of-sexual-assault/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/18/us/kavanaugh-christine-blasey-ford.html

    Reply

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