• Athena Ives

Why Didn't I Report Rape?


A difficult question most want to know but know little about.


Why Didn’t you Report Being Raped?

This is one of the number one questions everyone has been asking me. If it has never happened to you or someone you love, you will never fully be able to understand but I hope this helps explain a little.


According to the Department of Justice every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and one out of six women and one out of 33 men are raped in their lifetime. 59% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and 34% by family members. Three out of four rapes go unreported. Out of 1,000 rapes only five will see any prison time. Main reason, out of the 1,000 only 230 were reported to police, 46 led to arrest, nine referred to prosecutor, five receive a felony conviction, and four incarcerated.


Imagine rape as a stab wound and keep in mind that 93% know the person that stabbed them. Your first priority is to stop the bleeding. You aren’t processing the concept of admissible evidence or being able to prove that person stabbed you. Once you stop the bleeding you need to clean it, close it, and prevent it from re-opening. Now imagine your support system are the medical staff. If you go in, the police will be called, you will be painfully examined in order to secure any evidence, and because it was someone you know, you have to fully consider the repercussions and the possibility no one will believe you. From that point on it is up to you to prove what happened.

The prosecution sends their own doctor who cuts open your stitches and causes more pain than when you were first stabbed. A week goes by and your wound is trying to heal but now they didn’t get enough evidence so they open your wound again. The more times your wound is opened your scar becomes worse. You try to return to work but by that time everyone knows you were stabbed. Some have made a joke about it and said you stabbed yourself for attention or for money. You are now the most shared meme in the office. Others will walk on eggshells around you. The HR department treats you like a ticking time bomb when all you want to do is your job and be treated like you were before the stabbing. Some will even contact you and say that you provoked the stabbing and deserved it. This could continue for years while you are forced to relive this event over and over again in court. Your reputation went from a hard worker with potential to the person that got stabbed.


Now imagine you have no support system and based off of everything you know to be true, you triage yourself. After you stop the bleeding, you clean your wound, and sew it up yourself. No police were called so you won’t have to be forced through the numerous painful re-opening of the wound and evasive examinations. Your wound is left alone and you are able to heal faster. You are also able to hide it, avoiding all the other drama that this would bring. However, that scar will never go away. You must live with it every single day. Quite often, be forced to interact with the person that stabbed you.


Knowing all of this, you mentally have to make a decision just moments after you were stabbed. If you are not mentally prepared or have not had time to consult with a lawyer to determine your options/repercussions and you need more time, your chances of people believing you will become even more unlikely. The risk of not being able to prove the stabbing increase and you realize that you could go through all of this pain, risking your reputation, job and family, for nothing.

According to Terry (2008) from 1950 to 2002, 4,392 priests sexually abused 10,667 victims. If this was going on for so many years why did it take so long for the Catholic Church to do anything about it? Victims were reporting the abuse but due to cover-ups, payoffs, and the media, these crimes went unprosecuted. The victims were afraid that no one would believe them that a man of God would do that. Not only that, but they were one person going up against an organization that some say is more powerful than the Government.

The first victims to come forward were ignored, called liars, or caused to keep quiet by numerous different methods including but not limited to intimidation, false accusations that made them seem incredible, and loss of key evidence. Through the perseverance of these brave individuals, others finally came forward about their assault. Strength in numbers, news reporters that believed these stories, and some brave legal teams brought this horrible scandal to light.

I have been accused of playing victim, lying, or using my trauma for personal gain. This baffles me. My entire life has been about overcoming trauma and refusing to be a victim. I did not allow this trauma to prevent me from falling in love, traveling the world, helping others, or furthering my education. Being accused of lying is idiotic. This isn’t a court case where I have to show proof of my trauma and I have nothing to gain. I can’t tell you how much I wish I were lying. How many nights I have gone to bed praying I was crazy and would wake up realizing it was all a dream. Thinking I am going to be significantly financially compensated as a first-time author is ignorant. Most authors are not wealthy and I now have a target on my back which has not been easy to deal with. I published my story to help show people the truth about rape and give others the hope and courage to overcome whatever trauma they experienced. Shed light on what false accusations can do and what happens when people don’t believe you when you tell them the truth.


Many of us choose to take on this trauma alone because the alternative isn’t worth the risk. So, you didn’t report your uncle stabbing you. Years down the road you find out that the same uncle stabbed your child. This is when the fangs come out and you no longer care what happens to you. You feel a survivor’s guilt which is worse than your own trauma. You feel responsible and realize that no longer can you keep your mouth shut. When you come forward, you have no evidence other than first hand knowledge, the prosecution digs into every aspect of your past and tries to make you look like a delinquent that was asking to be stabbed.


Do I agree that we should believe everyone that claims sexual assault? HELL NO! The men and women that falsely report deserve to be locked up and punished severely. They are a major part of the problem. Is there a solution? That would take years of research to be able to come up with any kind of response to that. However, reports have shown that there is a significant decrease in sexual assaults since 1993. This may be due to the buckling down on poor treatment of the victims and taking their allegations more seriously. They have changed the statute of limitations in numerous states because experts understand why it takes some so long to report the assault.

Unless you have experienced sexual assault yourself, have extensive years of experience conducting unbiased research on sexual assault, or have first hand knowledge of an alleged sexual assault, and are on social media spewing your ignorant opinions, you are the problem! I truly hope it doesn’t take one of your daughters, a loved one, or even yourself getting raped for you to wake up and take responsibility for your role in this crime.


Reference

Terry, K. J. (2008). Stained glass: The nature and scope of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(5), 549-569.

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