Some Twitter users are reopening painful old wounds to describe why they didn’t report their sexual assault to authorities or even to loved ones in the wake of President Trump’s Friday morning attack on the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges she was the victim of attempted rape by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when both were in high school.
Trump tweeted Friday that if the attack was “as bad as she says,” Ford or her parents would have reported it to law enforcement. Ford was about 15 at the time she alleges Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom at a party, tried to undress her, and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her protests.
There are many reasons victims do not report sexual assault, and one federal agency found that the overwhelming majority of sexual violence incidents go unreported in the United States.
In fact, only 34 percent of attempted rapes and 26 percent of sexual assaults were reported to authorities between 1992 and 2000, according to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The agency cites a number of reasons, including shame and self-blame, humiliation, fear of not being believed, and a lack of trust in law enforcement. Victims may also fear retribution or ridicule. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct and have faced attacks on their character and demeaning insults from the president.
But perhaps the stories of individuals are more powerful than studies and statistics. To that end, a host of social media users shared their painful stories of sexual assault on Twitter and elsewhere Friday, many recalling fear, despair, and self-doubt.
Because I didn't want to admit what happened, even to myself. #WhyIDidntReport— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 21, 2018
As a survivor who didn't share my own assault for 40 yrs I believe Dr. Ford & understand the difficulty of coming forward due to stigma placed on survivors. @realDonaldTrump comments are reprehensible. If you/someone you know needs support visit @NHCADSV https://t.co/oAAFTStqef https://t.co/WHLUWfiPdO— Ann McLane Kuster (@RepAnnieKuster) September 21, 2018
The only time I ever went to the police was after a man tried to pull me into his car when I was 19. The beat cops were annoyed that I didn't know the make of the vehicle, or if it had two doors or four. #WhyIDidntReport— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 21, 2018
I was four, and he said he?d kill me. #WhyIDidntReport— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) September 21, 2018
1. It keeps being asked: Why would anyone wait decades to publicly disclose sexual assault?— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) September 20, 2018
I know why. I can write this cause I wrestled with disclosure in years of writing my book A Mind Unraveled. Rather than wait til October book release, as Dr. Ford is slammed, I tell now..