First off massive TW for rape, abuse, mental health and suicide. I’m going to be talking openly about these topics and you need to prioritise yourself – please don’t feel guilty for ever stepping back from these topics.
Following the awful news about Sarah Everard there have been an influx of posts on really important topics however there’s also been a lot of sad posts about people who don’t report their rape and why. I could tell hundreds of stories from friends and myself however I’m going to speak solely from my own experience.
This is really daunting but it feels so important and I’m privileged enough to comfortable enough to share my story if it helps others feel less alone or makes some awareness. I will always stand up to what I believe in, and that’s believing survivors. I do however ask you please don’t ask me questions, please don’t speculate (especially as these speculations are likely to be wrong) and please respect that while I am sharing this it was an incredibly traumatic time and I have PTSD and I am sharing all I am comfortable doing so.
A few years ago I was raped. I was raped multiple times. I was in a relationship with the person and being both physically and mentally abused too. But, at the time, I wasn’t sure if it was rape. I was scared I was being ‘dramatic’, I was scared it meant I should leave them, I felt alone and unwanted and I was sure I deserved what I was experiencing. So I didn’t even consider reporting it, heck I didn’t even leave them for a while.
In time I processed it and got the courage to leave, it took a lot, and I had no idea what to do. I constantly heard stories of people reporting their assaults and being dismissed or not believed. I didn’t even know how to report it! I kept it to myself but the effects were everywhere. My anorexia got worse in order to have control over something, I abused alcohol and drugs to forget, I hurt myself, I didn’t want to live with theses memories and I became hypersexual sleeping with anyone and everyone (a very common response despite what you’d assume).
Slowly I told a few people and I spoke to people with intimate knowledge of the criminal process. I’d finally considered reporting, finally ready to fight back and I was hit with the news there was no point. I couldn’t believe it.
But that’s reality. There was no way it would ever reach court. I had no physical evidence. I’d been in a ‘relationship’ with them and had consented before. I didn’t leave or report straight away. I didn’t tell anyone for years. I’d become hypersexual and that could so easily be turned against me (how fucked up is that?!). And I had absolutely no legal grounds to stand on. All that would happen would be that I’d relive some of the worst moments of my life, face my rapist and they’d still be free.
I’d finally got the courage to take back the control I’d lost for so long. This hit my mental health so fucking hard. I couldn’t get peace. The rape itself causes me PTSD and really awful symptoms. But the knowledge they’ll never face the awful things they did and I’d never find control and peace again makes me perhaps more unwell.
And people still doubt why people don’t report?
Rape cases that go to court are low, rape cases where the victim wins are even lower. So many people stand there facing someone who bought them so much pain and they still don’t get the justice they deserve. So why the fuck would they report?
People aren’t allowed to freeze despite that being a common and normal psychological response. They have to have physical evidence which requires such a traumatic process mere hours after their assault, they also can’t clean themselves in order to retain evidence despite how desperately someone wants to be clean after they’ve experienced that. They can’t have any time to process, any time to even learn what they experienced was assault. There sexual past can be used against them, where they were can be used against them, if they were drinking it can be used against them, what they were wearing can be used against them and so much more.
I’ve considered reporting so many times. In all honesty there are still moments I do. But it’s not worth the psychological effects when nothing would come of it. This is simply one experience. This isn’t the only one, it isn’t all that happens but it’s one example of why a person doesn’t report.
So please, don’t ever question why someone didn’t report. Please believe them. Please stand with them no matter. Please hold them while they process these awful situations.
I will never recover from what happened to me. I will just hope one day it causes me less pain and takes up less of my thoughts and time.
Please don’t ask me, or anyone questions, I never thought I’d publically be so raw and vulnerable. Please don’t try to offer anyone advice even with good intent. And please, please believe them. It’s a hard enough situation to experience without then having people doubt you or blame you.
And lastly if anyone who has been assaulted sees this: I believe you. I am standing with you. If I follow or speak to someone who hurt you please tell me and they’ll be gone in an instant, no questions asked. All my love.