There’s no way to put into perspective what a woman goes through after an assault; the fear someone is always there, the inability to trust anyone, the loneliness and isolation.
The aftermath is the worst part. Not knowing where to turn to, who to tell or if to tell. Victims are unable to separate logical feelings from insane, leaving them in a whirlwind of emotions with no sign of relief.
What comes next is harder—report it, or don’t? Rape is total control. During and after, the attacker has physical power over the body and power over the mind.Deciding how to handle the situation is the first step to regaining control.
“People can tell me until my ears bleed that I should report the incident. But it’s not going to happen,” said “Jenny Doe.” “It’s my battle to fight, why would I want to broadcast what happened to me?”
Some women would rather face a life without justice than face their attacker. Reporting a rape means reliving every moment in their mind recalling details. Victims also risk the possibility there won’t be enough evidence to convict.
The victim is left knowing their rapist is loose, this feeling alone is unsettling enough to deter making a report. It leaves no opportunity for the victim to get closure or a sense of safety back.
“Studies of victims reveal that barely 10 percent ever report the crime, and 80 percent are raped by men they know to some degree,” according to the National Institute of Justice.
In cases where the victim knew the attacker, it would seem counterproductive to speak out. The attacker knows your friends, family, where you live, work and go to school.
“Even though the guy only got a slap on the wrist, it was totally worth putting him in the spotlight and letting everyone see what a d—- he really is,” another Sac State student said.
Not reporting an assault is like telling the attacker what he did is acceptable. Reporting an attack may save another woman from becoming a victim.Many women don’t come forward until they hear the same man has raped another woman. It’s a way for victims to stand up and support others struggling through the same battle.
“I saw that look in his eye. This wasn’t his first time and I knew it wouldn’t be his last. But that was his mistake. Letting me see him. He’s in jail now,” said Sac State student “Jane Doe.”
Women and men face sexual abuse crimes everyday. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network says that out of 100 rapes, 46 get reported to the police, 12 lead to an arrest, 9 get prosecuted, 5 lead to a felony conviction and only 3 rapists will spend a day in prison. And this is only out of the 46 percent reported.
Society will sometimes downplay an attack because of how the woman was dressed, where she was and if there was alcohol involved. These small-minded people eager to hand out scarlet letters are making women afraid to speak up about assault.
Being attacked may be the hardest thing a woman ever experiences, but reporting it could make all the difference.
Sac State has several programs, workshops and counseling opportunities for survivors of trauma. If the attack happened on campus call the Sac State Police Department at 278-6851 or the full-time victim’s advocate at 278-3799.
Another safe place to contact is the Women Escaping A Violent Environment crisis line 920-2952. WEAVE’s mission is to provide crisis intervention for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in Sacramento County.
“I’m dealing with my rape the best way I know how right now,” “Jenny Doe” said. “Maybe someday I’ll speak up, but it’ll be on my timing. I just wish people understood that making a report isn’t so black and white.”
Not every victim is ready to pursue action, and some never will be. What matters is when they are ready they deserve to have resources and advocates standing behind them.
Natalie Gray can be reached at [email protected]