Recently, I started training on advocating for sexual assault victims. This course was probably one of the most difficult things to do. Not that it was difficult to go to the class and listen and pay attention or whatever. But it was difficult because the stories of people affect you, because you get a different look on this “thing”. I’ve learned so much and been able to retain a ton of information. I realized that being a victim isn’t easy. That is one of the toughest things out there. These men and women that go through these things are going through a very difficult and emotional time. So, I am going to give you a few facts on sexual assault and victims. Whether you are a victim, or know one, or just want to watch out for yourself, these are for all of you.
1.) Sexual assault happens to anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter your age, your race, your color, your sex, your family, your life, your paycheck, or your job. This can happen to good or bad people, men or woman.
2.) Just because it happens to a bad person (in your definition or anyone else’s either), it does not mean they deserve it. So if you think that they are a “whore” for sleeping around and that they deserved what they got… They definitely do NOT.
3.) According to statistics, 98% of rapist do not pay for what they did. They don’t go to jail. Nothing happens to them.
4.) All states are different, sex offenders do not have to register in every state. So take care of your kids.
5.) In a majority of sexual assault cases, the victim knows their assailant.
6.) When a victim experiences the trauma of sexual assault, or any trauma even, there’s a part of their brain called the hippocampus that shrinks, affecting memory and a lot of other things. Which is why a lot of the time they don’t remember what happened to them and pieces only start to come back slowly. They are not stupid, or crazy. It’s just the normal human body reaction.
7.) YOU do not get to decide whether you freeze/fight/flight in any situation. Your BRAIN decides for you. So just because a victim FREEZES when getting assaulted, it does not mean they wanted to have sex.
8.) It is not the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what they were wearing, where they were at, whether they were walking home late at night, or invited a friend over, or they were flirting with the person that did it, once a person says NO I don’t want this, that means NO. So when someone tells you that they believe they were sexually assaulted, don’t dare ask them “are you sure?” or “well where were you that such a terrible thing happened”. No one places themselves out there to GET raped. It is NOT the victim’s fault at all. They weren’t asking for it.
9.) During a SANE or SAFE exam, (sexual assault forensic exam) the victim has every single right to say that they do not want a certain part of the exam done. You do NOT have to do anything you don’t want to do. And remember that everything you tell the nurse or doctor can be used in court of law because it is written in a chart verbatim and given to a forensic team if you should choose to go down that route.
10.) Never, ever, EVER lie about what happened to you. If you are in your interview with the police, or whoever, if there’s something you do not WANT to say, then don’t say “I don’t remember”, simply say “I’m not ready to talk about it yet”.
11.) Your spouse should never be interrogated or asked questions, (obviously unless they were the assailant). Anything you tell your spouse is between you and your spouse. Others, like friends, family, and parents are required to testify by law, if they refuse, they can and will most likely, get arrested. So be careful who you tell what to and how you say it.
12.) If you were assaulted by or at your home, you can give your landlord the report number and (at least in the state of Washington, look up your state and make sure this applies to you) break your lease if you are renting.
13.) At any moment during an interview with the police, or SVU, or whoever, you have the right to leave. You do NOT have to stay there. If they make you feel stressed out, or act like you can’t leave, then ask them why you are being detained, but you did not commit a crime, so you are in your right to leave.
14.) Never ask a victim why they didn’t fight back, or why they didn’t try harder. I knew about a cop that got raped by two people while he had a gun pointed at his head and had his gun taken from, he told his friend about it and his friend said, “why didn’t you fight, why didn’t you take out your gun, are you serious?” If someone got raped, they were obviously vulnerable in that situation. No one wants to sit there and let that happen to them. If this cop would have pulled his gun out, he would have been killed in an instance.
15.) I heard a guy say once that “it was her fault for not telling anyone what happened to her in the first place and that’s why it kept happening to her”. No, a 6 year old is not blame, no one is to blame, for getting raped and no telling anyone. The victim is TERRIFIED about what my happen to them. “What will the people at work say about me if that’s what you are saying about it?” “Would the police even believe me if my friends don’t?” “What if the guys says that I gave him consent when I really didn’t?”
16.) A lot of the time, victims don’t have injury. So it can be difficult to prove even if there was evidence of fluids on the or in the victim. The assailant could have said that he/she gave consent prior to. There is no injury on the victim, so guess what, now it’s by word of mouth.
17.) 68% of sexual assaults are NEVER reported!
18.) 47% are friends of the victim.
I can go on and on with facts about these things. Sexual assault is not an easy thing to deal with, it’s tough, and there are so many emotions that come with it. A support system in place is very helpful. Get the help you need, talk to a counselor, deal with what’s happened to you, don’t hide it, talk to someone. What happened to you was NOT something you deserved!!!!!
*If you are in the military you can contact me for more information, there are a few differences with civilians and the military and there’s a lot that goes with it. But I am more than happy to answer any of your questions and assist you.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, reach out! Here is a helpline for you:
or you can go to rainn.org