I have been surprisingly quiet about recent events back home in the US involving a certain Supreme Court nominee and the sexual assault allegations brought against him. Living and working abroad has set my focus on other, more immediate things, but this is something I cannot ignore or brush aside.
I am so disheartened by the reactions of people on interviews and social media, calling his accusers liars only speaking out for the sake of political derailment, or whatever. So many people shouting “liar.” So many people jumping the gun to discredit them, before even giving these women a few minutes to say what they need to say. People refuse to listen.
I am a survivor of sexual assault. The first time it happened to me, I did not report. In fact, I didn’t tell anyone for two years. There were so many reasons I kept my mouth shut: I felt like I had insufficient evidence. I thought that what I was wearing probably welcomed the attack. I thought that I was an easy target (college freshman at a party). I thought that it’s just what guys do. Would I have said no if I didn’t have a boyfriend whom I loved (yes). I thought that I would not be believed.
All of these things that stopped me from speaking up five years ago are a product of the culture of rape and sexual assault in our society. Accusations are quickly cast aside so that people don’t have to get into it. So that the past, present, and future of the accused are protected.
And these are the same things I am seeing day after day during these past few weeks as accusations come up and others are so quick to put it down.
Survivors have a myriad of reasons for never coming forward or waiting a long time before they do. There is so much fear. Fear of retaliation. Fear of ruining their own lives and reputations. Fear of not being believed. Fear of being called liars.
I can truly empathize with these women. I understand why they have waited so long to come forward – they are weighed down with all of these reasons and more.
Coming forward about past trauma is one of the bravest things a person can do, whether one waits two hours, fifty years, or more. Talking about trauma invites for it to come back and be relived over and over again.
I have become very comfortable with speaking about my first assault to a wide range of audiences and people. But that doesn’t mean that it has become any easier. Every time I talk about it, I can still feel the guy’s hands on the back of my neck, the force of being pushed through a house towards a bedroom, his hot, drunken breath on my ear. I can feel his hands slip under the waistband of my shorts and me, paralyzed with shock, completely powerless to stop it from happening.
Even after coming forward two years later, there were still a few people, not unlike the people we see calling “lies” on the news and on social media, who called me a liar who made up the story for attention.
Yeah, because the majority of people who make allegations of sexual assault (which are incredibly serious) risk dragging their lives through the mud and bring up past trauma and pain for attention.
Because that makes sense.
No matter how many times the statistic is given, people don’t seem to accept it. Even though there are multiple studies to confirm it.
Only 2-8% of sexual assault accusations are false or unclear. ONLY TWO TO EIGHT PERCENT. And I am in agreement that people who make false sexual assault accusations, or false accusations to any crime, are sick in the head.
Some sources and fact-checks:
Also, in most cases of false accusation, the accuser has a history of lying and/or a criminal record.
These women don’t either.
Another thing I don’t understand is that many of the people calling “liar” are women. Unfortunately, I am not surprised about the number of men I see calling these accusations false. It is sad that it’s to be expected. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because some men are afraid of being called out for past violations they themselves have committed. Maybe because they just wish for it not to be true, that any man would violate a person this way. Maybe they are sensitive little snowflakes who don’t like any accusations against the president or any person he would put forward for a position.
I don’t know.
But I am truly upset and disheartened to see the number of women who refuse to believe these women.
Women are supposed to stand together, right? We are supposed to support each other, right? We are supposed to believe one another.
I guess I can attempt to understand why so many people think that these accusations are being made for the sole purpose of political upheaval/undermining. Yes, they came at a “convenient” time – while this man is in the middle of his hearings for placement on the court, considered to be the highest law of the land. I mean, this is also the same country who elected a man accused no less than 19 times of sexual harassment, assault, and rape, and bragged about it on tape for all the world to hear as president.
But think about it.
If YOU were violated or attempted to be violated by a person who is now up for a very powerful position that could have a strong impact on laws that will affect situations like this in the future, wouldn’t you want to say something?
I’ll ask another question.
Why would these women knowingly and willingly drag their reputations through the mud, put their personal safety and their safety of their families at a high risk, and subject to being called a liar by millions of people for a shot at fame? Or just to “derail” politics? Aren’t there easier ways to do that?
Why would they do this if they weren’t telling the truth?
This leads me to my last question, one that I have seen a lot, but that I feel really applies to this situation.
If your child, sibling, parent, relative, or friend came to you and said something like this happened to her, would you believe them? Or would you call them a liar?
If any of these women – Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick – were your daughter, sister, mother, relative, friend, would you believe them? Or would you still call them liars.
I look forward to the days when we stopped worrying about the impact that accusations will have on the accused. Like I said, false accusations are horrible and do significant damage to innocent people, but they are rare. Right now, I am seeing a lot of “the past is in the past” or these women are just trying to wreck his future.
What about them?
This echoes the Brock Turner case – in which his future livelihood was questioned and attempted to be protected.
This echoes a comment made to me, when I finally started telling people about my first assault. Someone (who I am no longer friends or in contact with) told me, “Wow, it’s a good thing you didn’t say anything when you did or else that guy’s life would’ve been totally ruined?”
And you know what I said?
If accused worry about their futures, maybe they shouldn’t commit the crime.
And so many people are also now making jokes about how men can’t even look at women anymore without being accused of harassment. That’s not true and a snowflake statement if I’ve ever seen one (yes, conservatives, I’m calling you special snowflakes too). Most people accused of harassment don’t just look at other people. They’ve definitely done something and they know it.
Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The survivors get all of the control they have over their situation and their bodies stripped away from them. Many cannot fight back due to pure shock (fight, flight, or freeze).
When it happened to me, I was already pretty well-versed in self defense (Thanks, Dad!), but couldn’t do anything because of the shock of it all.
These women took control of their situation and stepped up, only to have it stripped away by people who value petty politics over the seriousness of a crime.
There is a whole lot more I can talk about: what survivors of sexual assault go through and the impact it can have on their entire lives, how to actually talk to a survivor of sexual assault, and a full 4,000 word rant about how the people calling out “liar” disgust me on a whole new level.
And maybe I will talk about it, just not now.
I want to end with this: in order to improve our culture, we must BELIEVE those who come forward. Because it is incredibly hard and they are incredibly brave to speak out.
While we’re at it, we should really emphasize the importance of respect, consent, and love to our children. They are the future, after all.
If you have any questions or want to chew me out about why I’m “wrong”, feel free to message me privately. Maybe we’ll have some words. Maybe we won’t.
Believe us. Believe them. Believe her. Believe me.