Last Wednesday, the day before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, I recorded today’s podcast episode: Women, I Know Why You Didn’t Tell.
Women of all ages, races, religions, and political affiliations are sexually harassed, assaulted, and abused every day. And most do not tell. Many don’t tell for decades.
The question of why women (or men) don’t speak up sooner about incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault is often the first tactic of diversion and distraction that shifts blame to the accuser and away from the accused.
I have worked with trauma survivors—including victims of rape, domestic assault, human trafficking, marital rape, and chronic childhood sexual abuse for over 25 years. I have worked with women who were brought to the U.S. from another country against their will and were held essentially as sex slaves.
I have sat next to women in their 40s or 50s who were still under the grip of the gaslighting and brainwashing done to them by a clergy member, supervisor, or high school coach who groomed them, caused them to believe the abuse perpetrated against them was a “special” relationship, or who told them that they were too “irresistible,” and that is why the perpetrator abused her.
Women are asked why they went where they went, why they drank so much (or at all), why they got in the car, why they were wearing what they wore, or why they said what they said. All these questions, including why did it take so long to tell, blame the victim. They shift the weight of responsibility from where it belongs—on the perpetrator.
There are so many reasons women don’t tell.
Episode #30 is a personal message from me to every woman—or man—who has been sexually harassed, abused, or assaulted. Your story is your private information, and you have a right to decide when, where, how, and to whom you tell it. Period.
To get the whole episode, tune in here.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2018)
Rae Fletcher says
Sometimes, when the abuse happened to a young child, it’s not even remembered or recognized as abuse until some other occurrence triggers the memory or recognition of it having been abusive. Another reason is that it may have happened before the child was verbal, in which case the person literally doesn’t have words to explain the abuse. It’s my belief that the younger the victim is, the less likely they are to be believed. It’s also my belief that the younger the victim is, the liklier it is the truth.