People don’t report it because of B.S. like yesterday’s hearing, because of the weeks leading up to it, because in this society we seek sympathy for the attacker while simultaneously trying to discredit the victim and putting them on trial.
People don’t report it because rarely is justice served, especially if said person is in a position of power, a celebrity or athlete, or of “good moral standing” (basically rich white boys).
People don’t report because boys will be boys ( which apparently means they do not have to be taught to control their urges), because people change and they were just teenagers, she was dressed inappropriately, because “no” isn’t really no, because we don’t value consent, because they were under the influence, because they hooked up or kissed before.
People don’t report it because they are ashamed (being assaulted makes you feel dirty, makes you feel so many tumultuous emotions, no matter how many showers you take or how hard you scrub you can never wash it away, trust me I have tried), they are wracked with guilt (freezing is very common and the guilt of not being “strong” enough to stop it is very real and very hard to come to terms with), many times their safety is threatened, as mine was one of the times I was raped, I was told to shut up and be quiet or else he would go shoot my cousins in front of me and still rape me, he held a gun to my head.
I didn’t report any of the attacks after my first one because I never got justice.
My father molested me when I was 9, we sought justice, but because I was far too traumatized to speak at his trial he got to plea bargain and hardly served anytime in jail. We are talking he got out in less than 4 months because of “good behavior.” For months afterwards I had nightmares, I had to sleep with my mama, I checked every door and window several times to ensure they were locked, I was convinced it was my fault, it was because I wasn’t a boy (he always wanted me to be a boy, told me as much and cut my hair and dressed me up like a boy, even after my brother was born.) I was so traumatized and that incident as well as the ones which have preceded it have had a dramatic impact on every facet of my life, but especially my romantic and physical/sexual relationships.
So the first time my cousin assaulted me,he forced me to give him a hand job, tried to do more, but he only stopped because my other cousin saw and because I broke down asking him why he was doing this to me (this was within a year or so of my dad molesting me.) We never pursued it because I didn’t want to go through another trial, the first one was traumatic enough, because we chalked it up to childhood curiosity, because I didn’t want my family to hate me.
The second time when he raped me the morning of my mother’s wedding, I told no one… for years I kept it a secret. I was getting ready to leave for the Navy in a few weeks (I had worked my whole life to enlist, signed up for 8 years right off the bat and everything), I didn’t want to go to a trial, I didn’t want to have to recount that morning/night (it happened between 3 and 4 am) over and over again, I didn’t want to remember that morning, I just wanted to forget, I wanted to get away, to get as far away as I could. I wanted to go somewhere that he couldn’t touch me. The military could also give me the knowledge and ability to protect myself better (a definite bonus, although not my reason for enlisting)
While away at basic I had a massive nervous breakdown while there and ended up having to leave. I ended up losing out on my lifelong dream of being in the military, I had to choose to walk away from something I had spent my life working for, because I knew that I needed to process the trauma and wasn’t willing to risk my own life or the life of my fellow sailors (did not want to have a flashback during an important mission.) I had compartmentalized the whole attack which I thought would be enough, but the military is designed to break you physically and mentally and it shattered the fortress I had built around that fateful day. Losing the military nearly broke me, I lost a piece of myself that day, a piece I have yet to recover, I was devastated. It has been 13 years since I enlisted and not a day goes by that I do not wish things had turned out differently.
The only reason I broke down and told my mom, was because she had been thinking about allowing him to live with us. This was 2 years after the attack, 2 years of sitting in silence, 2 years of pretending like nothing had happened, 2 years of guilt, of shame, of flashbacks, 2 years after losing my whole world, 2 years of failed relationships, 2 years of a failed attempt at college, 2 years of so many emotions.
Even when I told her, we still decided to never take it beyond that point. My family had been through so much, I had been through so much, still I was trying to forget it ever happened. I wanted no one to know I had been violated, I wanted no one to know I had been weak, I wanted no one to know I was damaged goods once again….
Yet, even when he had a breakdown (while in the military himself, such ironic bullshit I lost my own chance to serve due to the trauma of his attacks, and yet, he who decided pretty much last minute to enlist unlike myself who worked my whole life for it, managed to serve quite a few years) and admitted to detectives that he raped me, I still received absolutely no justice, instead I was put through a year plus of hell while he changed his story, while I had to recount that night several times, while I spent my 25th birthday with a detective giving him every sordid detail from that night/morning, while many of my family turned on me (most still believe him over me). Because of the trial I was unable to go to my grandfather’s celebration of life ceremony, he was the most important person in my life, next to my mama, I still haven’t fully processed his death.
The others times before, between, and after those incidents, I didn’t report it because the justice system has proven over and over again they do not care about the victims. To me there was no point.
Traumas like this don’t just affect one part of your life, they weave their way into the deepest and darkest of crevices. Even when you think you have healed, you have processed it, you have moved on, it is ALWAYS there. They do not go away because of therapy, they do not go away after years, they are never forgotten, they become a part of you.
It is for those and so many reasons we don’t report it.
Unless you have been a victim you cannot begin to fathom the emotions that come with being assaulted.
Unless you have been violated on such a deep and personal level you do not understand the depths to which that shame, guilt, and fear can run.
Unless you have had someone make you feel dirty, weak, and like nothing more than an object you can never begin to grasp how that affects you for years, it leaves deep scars that will never heal. To this day, even after tons of therapy, writing about it, and having a very open discussion and dialogue about my own experiences I still feel all these emotions and more. I still get flashbacks, I can still feel their hands upon my skin. While it is better than it was, you never forget.
Even if you have experienced this, everyone processes trauma differently, it is not your right or your place to tell them how or when they should process their trauma. You do not get to decide their way of coping.
***TRIGGER WARNING- This section of this post may be very upsetting***
It was the summer of 2006, I had just graduated high school early, had returned home from spending a few months back home in California with my family, and was getting ready to leave for the Navy. Several of my family members were visiting because my mom was about to get married to my stepfather. It was supposed to be a happy time for us all, an occasion we could look back on with joy, but for me that joyous occasion has been tainted.
It was the morning of my mom’s wedding, somewhere between 3-4 A.M., my cousins and I had been up playing manhunt, hanging out, and just spending as much time together as we could. With my leaving for the military soon and us all living on opposite ends of the country, we valued the time we got to spend together. With the hours quickly dwindling until the big affair a few of my cousins decided to try and sleep, while the rest just hung out and relaxed in the house. With a lot on my mind from my moms pending nuptials to the love of her life to my leaving for the military in a few weeks and having just ended a relationship with my partner I had quite a bit on my mind. Sitting down just inside the tent where we would be having the reception for my moms wedding, I stared off at the pond, took a few deep breaths, and allowed myself to just relax and be in the moment. All thoughts of the Navy, of my partner and their drama, of the jitters for my moms big day drifted away as I sank further into a state of relaxation.
After several minutes my cousin, who was 3 sheets to the wind sat down next to me, sat down next to me. We sat there talking for several minutes after which he leaned in and tried to kiss me, I turned away, but he pushed my down onto my back, putting his full weight on top of me. I told him to stop, I fought back, I tried everything to get him off me. But he had at least 50 lbs probably more on me and he was all muscle, I weighed maybe 100lbs. Pulling my pants off with his one hand, while his other had mine pinned above my head, he inserted his penis into me as he proceeded to rape me. Tears streaming down my face, I fought back with every ounce of myself, I thrashed around until finally I managed to slip out from under him. I scrambled to my feet, my pants and underwear still around my ankles, I tried to get away. He grabbed me by my ankles, yanking my feet out from under me, as I feel face first onto the ground. Mind you there is a small hill in my parents back yard, so it is already kinda difficult to go up without this. He flipped me over, pinning me down again, he went back at it. Again, I fought back with everything I had, and once more I managed to get away. But, that wouldn’t last as he grabbed me a 3rd time, slamming be back down on the ground nearly knocking me unconscious. This time he managed to keep his hold on me until he finished, although thankfully he didn’t finish inside me. When he was done, he just got up like nothing had happened, while I sat there in a crumpled heap, unsure of how to process this. The first 2 times were about 5-10 minutes before I managed to get him off me, the final time was over 15 minutes.
I just laid there for a few minutes trying to collect myself, because I didn’t want anyone to know what had just happened, I didn’t want to ruin my mom’s big day. I cleaned myself up, wiped the dirt and mud from me, wiped my tears away, gathered my strength and went back inside. I briefly stopped to talk to my other cousins, but then went to my room to finish collecting myself because my mom was getting married in only a few short hours and I wanted to make sure she had the best day possible.
The wedding went off without a hitch, I had to pose for picture with him, my family stuck around for a few more days, most of which I spent trying to avoid him, but not fully being able to because I didn’t want anyone to suspect anything. In the weeks after my moms wedding as the photos came back and we recalled that day, I had to put on a brave face whenever I saw his picture, or his name came up.
As Always My Beautiful Badass Unicorn Phoenix Goddesses,
I Hope You Have A Magical Day