An Open Letter To Men Who Think Sexual Assault Is A Joke – From A Survivor

Dear Men,

I get it. False accusations have happened to other men before, and that’s really shitty. I don’t support that at all. However, that doesn’t give you the right to disbelieve every victim who comes forward. That’s even shittier because it encourages sexual assault victims to stay silent and let their attackers get away with a terrible crime, one they’re most likely going to repeat. These predators are going to be empowered to go out and assault more women, traumatizing them for the rest of their lives and knowing they can get away with it. Are you really okay with that? If so, please unfriend me now.

My assault occurred 15 years ago. I didn’t report it because I had been trained already by society and religion to feel ashamed and blame myself, even though it wasn’t my fault and I know that now. I don’t remember the exact date it occurred, the address of the home where it took place, or the names of every single person at the party. I do remember having a few drinks with people I thought were my friends and then waking up in a different room of the house with a guy I barely knew who was penetrating me without my consent, stealing my virginity from me before I had the chance to find someone special to give it to. I remember his name and face like it was yesterday, and I remember being called a whore and being kicked out after that. But I guess because there’s no evidence and no police report, it didn’t happen, right? Or if you do believe my spotty memory of that traumatic experience, you probably think it was my fault because I shouldn’t have been hanging out with guys and drinking, right? If you really think that way, please let me know so I can never speak to you again.

I’ve been writing about my experience in recent years with the goal of helping other survivors. I want them to know that they’re not alone and it wasn’t their fault either. I want them to speak up and join in a much-needed dialogue about the epidemic of sexual assault, victim-blaming, and rape culture in general.

If my rapist was about to be promoted to one of the most influential positions in our country, I would choose that moment to dig as deeply as I could for the strength to speak up and warn people that he’s not a good guy, he’s a criminal who got away with a terrible crime. And you probably wouldn’t believe me either.

I’m not asking for much here, guys. All I’m asking is that you don’t automatically disbelieve victims who come forward. You’re worried about the man’s life being ruined but you don’t give a shit about the woman who has to deal with her trauma every day for the rest of her life? You think it’s funny to joke about her assault? Women everywhere are not laughing; we’re in pain about this. And you’re laughing. And you wonder why we’re so upset. 🤦🏻‍♀️

You probably have women in your life that you care about, right? If it helps you access your human side, think about them. At least one of them has most likely survived a sexual assault, whether they reported it or not, and your doubt and jokes hurt her. She may not have told you about her experience because it’s deeply personal and she doesn’t know if you’re capable of understanding. When she sees you joking around about the most terrible thing that’s ever happened to her, she stops thinking you’re a good guy and starts to think she’s been duped by yet another asshole.

I’ve had to unfollow some friends on social media lately because of posts mocking Dr. Ford and sexual assault survivors in general, showing support for a man who clearly has no respect for women, and advocating for the automatic defense of any man accused of sexual assault rather than advocating for protecting women from sexual assault.

I’ve experienced severe bouts of PTSD as a result of these proceedings and the astonishingly misogynistic dialogue taking place. It has made me relive my trauma, which is the absolute last thing I want to do when I have a happy marriage and a great career to focus on.

So please, guys, think about your posts and “jokes” and how they can hurt people. Before you assume every victim is just another lying slut, stop and think about the likelihood that this man you’re defending is actually a predator of women, and defending him makes you a supporter of assaulting women. Is that really the legacy you want for yourself?

Sincerely,

A Survivor

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