ARE men actually bewildered why it takes so long for women to confront their abusers? Or are they only trying to cast doubt on the stories of women who finally find their voice, many decades later?
Is it a belittling tactic? Or is it a genuinely-baffled male mind?
You don’t go to battle unless you believe you have a fair chance of winning. It’s 2018. Yet, the chances of a woman coming out to accuse a man of sexual abuse or assault and being believed are still slim.
The odds are stacked up against you. Most of the time, there are no witnesses. Most of the time, no one can corroborate your claims. Why? Because it is just not second nature for victims to report sexual abuse immediately after it occurs.
There is the shock. There is the shame. There is the fear. There is the pain.
If you are a child, you don’t have the capacity to fully grasp what happened. You know it was something terrible but how do you narrate an experience for which you can find neither the courage nor the words to describe?
If you are an adult, knowing with certainty that you have been wronged does not make reporting it easier. It’s your word against your abuser. The burden of proof lies upon the accuser. And you know this.
If you have no proof, how do you proceed? And if you choose to proceed anyway, what are the chances you will be believed? If you are believed, can you be adequately protected from retribution? And if you can be afforded protection, can you survive the retelling?
Would you be willing to expose yourself, your life, your family and all your choices to the scrutiny of a public who will be quick to pounce on every inconsistency in your story, every flaw in your character, every blemish in your history?
Victims stay silent for a reason. It’s not because they don’t remember. It’s not because it never happened either. They stay silent because they do not want to relive the trauma of sexual assault or abuse.
No one wants to relive the helplessness, the horror, the humiliation. No one wants to be assaulted. Again. And in public this time. And this is why so many victims simply choose to carry their grief to the grave.
The stories of sexual abuse being bravely narrated in the open today resonate with so many women because sadly, sexual abuse is more widespread that we think.
Because it happened 40 years ago doesn’t make it less real. Because you chose not to tell anyone doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Because it happened 40 years ago doesn’t exonerate its perpetrator. Because you chose not to go after your abuser doesn’t mean it didn’t matter.
Today, I write for all the scared little girls, the terrified teenagers, the traumatized women—all terrorized into silence. It’s time we told our stories because if we stay silent, they win. #Ibelieveher./sunstar Cebu