I’d recommend reading this post before beginning, so you’re familiar with my backstory.
Oftentimes, one of the first questions survivors get is whether or not they’ve reported. This question comes from a good place. We want justice for our loved ones. But what if the survivor hasn’t reported and has no intention of doing that?
First, you should know that if anyone you know ever (heaven forbid) gets sexually assaulted, NEVER force them to report. They’ve already been forced to do something against their will. There’s no need to put them through that again. As you will see, there are many reasons why a survivor may choose not to report. This is their choice alone and their reasons are valid. Support them in whatever they decide.
I know I’m voicing an unpopular opinion here. I totally understand that. I just want people to see that reporting isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. I wish it were. Maybe I would’ve done it then. But at this point, the statute of limitations is gone for every one of my sexual assaults. I can’t do anything about it now. A part of me wishes I’d done it just so I could be a number. And to teach “N” a lesson which I’m sure has yet to sink in. I still feel guilty knowing that there’s a slim chance I could prevent him from hurting more women. I’ve only reported one of my sexual assaults (discussed here).
The benefits of reporting are fairly clear, so I won’t spend any time on that. But to be clear, I’m not trying to persuade anyone to not report. The purpose of this post is to share some of the reasons I’ve only reported one of my experiences with sexual assault. Many things have held me back…
1. I didn’t know it was sexual assault until two years after the first time it happened.
N is the first person who sexually assaulted me and the only one who seemed to have no remorse for it. If anyone should be reported, it’s him. Unfortunately, once I realized his actions were considered sexual assault, I only had two months to decide whether or not to report before the statute of limitations would close that door — which I didn’t know until after it passed. (Seriously, who thought two years was a good idea?)
2. I didn’t want to bring up the past again or wreck the perpetrators’ reputations.
Two of the three people who assaulted me (P and Z) are good people at heart who acted rather stupidly. Why rehash this when they’ve already learned from their mistakes (I think) and understand that what they did was wrong? I doubt they’ll do it again. Besides, I don’t want their friends and family to think they’re terrible people. They’re not.
3. On a similar note, what could the police do to help me and the perpetrators?
Not all crimes need to be investigated and reported to the police. Yes, I love the idea of being a number, but the process seems so unnecessary in my case. I usually handled matters pretty well on my own. My exes (with the glaring exception of N) understand that what they did was wrong and learned from it. I don’t see the need to punish them by sending them to jail, ruining their reputations, having this on their record forever, etc. I just don’t see any benefit to it besides adding to the statistics.
4. The police and college campuses are notorious for mishandling sexual assault cases.
I’ve been through enough already. And there’s a reason reporting to the police is sometimes referred to as “the second rape.” Need I say more?
5. People could easily belittle my experiences.
Let’s be honest for a moment here. What happened to me could’ve been much worse. People could easily claim that I’m overreacting. Non-consensual touching happens to (I’d guess) most women and plenty of men at some point in their life. Some people can go on with their lives without much difficulty. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with me. I’m well aware that I have every right to feel the way I do, but it would still be hurtful for people to dismiss my experiences. This is part of the reason that I’m so hesitant to tell people what happened to me.
6. I didn’t want people finding out about my past from anyone but me.
When rumors fly, people inevitably get the details wrong — many of them. The last thing I want is people talking behind my back, making assumptions, judging me without having all the information, etc. If people find out about my past, I want it to be from me so I can clear up any misconceptions they have.
Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.