Sexual Assault Survivors Share #WhyIDidntReport in Response to Trump’s Ignorant Attack on Ford

“Two out of three sexual assaults are never reported. Might have something to do with the fact that for every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators walk free.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-21-2018

Women and men shared their reasons for not reporting their sexual assaults after President Donald Trump attacked Christine Blasey Ford on Friday. (Photo: NARAL)

Immediately following President Donald Trump’s tweet attacking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for not reporting her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when it happened more than three decades ago, women and men alike expressed outrage and shared the facts about why rape and sexual abuse are some of the world’s most under-reported crimes.

The hashtag #WhyIDidntReport took off almost instantly, with survivors documenting their experiences of having their allegations dismissed or ignored, facing systems in which they would have to prove the wrong-doing of their far more powerful assailants, and being shamed by their communities after confiding in others about their attacks.

Trump’s remarks came days after the Washington Post published a widely-shared article by columnist Elizabeth Bruenig, detailing the experience of one teenage girl who did immediately report her rape—only to have a grand jury decline to indict the two suspects despite DNA evidence, while her community blamed her for the assault.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo was one of the first public figures to condemn Trump’s comments, placing blame for survivors’ reluctance to report their assaults squarely at the feet of the criminal justice system—not survivors themselves.

“Sexual assault and domestic violence are [two] of the most under-reported crimes in society, this is a fact and in the past the law enforcement community has not done a good job of creating safe spaces for victims,” wrote Acevedo on Twitter.

Others blamed a culture in which men like Trump proudly denigrate survivors for many women and men’s reluctance to report their attacks.

Trump’s tweet and its response came in the midst of negotiations between Ford and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which wants her to testify regarding her allegations as quickly as possible so that Republicans can push through their confirmation of Kavanaugh, who has the approval of only 31 percent of Americans.

This week, Ford’s lawyers indicated that she would be open to testifying late next week, requesting that Kavanaugh testify first, that the judge would not be present during her testimony, and that the committee provide her with security.

The Judiciary Committee said Friday that it would meet some of Ford’s stipulations—but insisted she testify first and that the hearing take place next Wednesday, a day earlier than she requested. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called the Republican-led committee’s insistence on an earlier testimony “mean-spirited” and said it “candidly shows no sympathy or empathy whatsoever.”

As Ford prepared to potentially step into the public eye and testify regarding her experience as a teenager, comedian and writer Kath Barbadoro expressed frustration with a culture in which men including Trump use their public platforms to cast doubt on sexual assault allegations, while survivors are asked to share their deeply personal and painful stories in order to convince their detractors of the truth of their experiences as well as basic facts about sexual assault.

Meanwhile, the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet tweeted its support for women and men choosing to share their stories and shared information about resources for survivors.

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