Many people wonder why women fail to report sexual violence immediately. It differs based on the situation, and the reasons can be complicated, but here are a few reasons we hear during individual therapy in Orlando:
The victim often doesn't directly acknowledge or label the occasion as an attack, trauma, or act of sexual abuse. They might not even comprehend that what they have gone through was rape or sexual assault. Often survivors have difficulty even saying the word rape, especially about their own experiences for years.
The woman is scared people won't believe her either because the attacker is in a position of power, is well-liked, or because they're a woman. Honestly, the current news cycle doesn't help with this. Survivors of sexual brutality are monitoring the news very closely. They're also noticing the reactions of their friends, coworkers, equivalents, and relatives on social media. The survivor notices whenever someone on social media posts that a survivor is attempting to ruin a man's life or a politician makes the case that their associate shouldn't lose his job due to one mistake. When a loved one discusses the news cycle and shakes their head, saying, "Too bad it's a matter of he said, she said," the survivor notices. They assume they will be treated the same if they tell you or come forward.
The victim is nervous she is at fault. Perhaps she had too much to drink, originally eagerly engaged in making out, or consented to go somewhere alone with a man, and she believes she should have known better. Even if she recognizes that her actions don't give the guy a right to harm her, she may fear that others will believe something she did signified consent. For many, many years, our society mistakenly gave the impression that women ought to cover up or make explicit choices to evade giving the wrong impression. So why is it fine for a man to assail a woman just because she's intoxicated, dressed in revealing clothes, or allowed him to pay for a date? The explanation is that it's not, but women often internalize that message to the point where they believe they somehow asked for or merited the sexual assault.
The woman doesn't believe she can emotionally bear it if her attacker is found not guilty. This is a difficult one because it's a rational worry. Entirely too frequently, rapists and attackers suffer little to no consequences after a report has been made. This can be devastating to the individual making the report. First, it's re-traumatizing to go forward with the reporting process. Then they feel invalidated when their attacker is permitted to keep walking around as if nothing occurred or encounters very minimal consequences. Finally, the victim thinks reporting won't make a difference because it can't obliterate the trauma.
These are some of the reasons that women delay reporting rape or sexual assault. Contact us today if you need individual therapy in Orlando. We are here to help.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.