10 Reasons Why Some Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault

10 Reasons Why Some Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault. Sexual assault has been in the headlines in past weeks, due in large part to the high-profile cases. This fact raises some eyebrows about the veracity and motives of the accusers. But non-reporting is actually the norm when it comes to sexual assault. There is a wide array of reasons that people don’t come forward

1. Shame

Some women don’t come forward to report sexual harassment or assault is shame. Shame is at the core of the intense emotional wounding women and men experience when they are sexually violated. The victim feels invaded and defiled, while simultaneously experiencing the indignity of being helpless and at the mercy of another person.

2. Low Self-Esteem

Some victims have such low self-esteem that they don’t consider what happened to them to be very serious. They don’t value or respect their own bodies or their own integrity, so if someone violates them, they downplay it. Sexual violations wound a woman’s self-esteem, self-concept, and sense of self. The more a girl or woman puts up with, the more her self-image becomes distorted.

4. Feelings of Hopelessness and Helplessness

Some victims who cannot see a way out of an abusive situation soon develop a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, and this in turn contributes to them giving up and not trying to escape or seek help. Women feel it is useless to come forward, because they have seen the way others have been treated. They feel it is hopeless, because they won’t be believed, and their reputations will be tainted, if not ruined.

5. A History of Being Sexually Violated 

Women who have already been traumatized by child sexual abuse or by sexual assault as an adult are far less likely to speak out about sexual harassment at work or at school. Survivors of previous abuse and assault are at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted again. Those who experienced previous abuse will likely respond to overtures of sexual harassment much differently than women who have not been abused.

6. Denial

Many women refuse to believe that the treatment they endured was actually abusive. They downplay how much they have been harmed by sexual harassment and even sexual assault. They convince themselves that “it wasn’t a big deal.”

7. Fear of the Consequences

Fear of the repercussions is a huge obstacle women face when it comes to reporting sexual harassment or assaulter. Fear of losing their job, fear they won’t find another job, fear they will be passed over for a promotion, fear of losing their credibility, fear of being branded a troublemaker, fear of being blackballed in their industry and fear of their physical safety.

8. Fear Retaliation

Another reason why victims don’t report or delay reporting is that they fear retaliation, and we have evidence from recent events to validate that fear. Sexual harassers frequently threaten the lives, jobs, and careers of their victims. And many victims are frightened by the perpetrator’s position of power and what he could do with it.

9. Not Being Believed

Many don’t disclose, because they fear they won’t be believed. The fact that sexual misconduct is the most under-reported crime is due to a common belief that women make up these stories for attention or to get back at a man who rejected them. Victims’ accounts are often scrutinized to the point of exhaustion. In high-profile cases, victims are often labeled opportunists, blamed for their own victimization, and punished for coming forward.

10. They Think They Are The Only Victims

Some women convince themselves that they are the only victim of a sexual harasser or abuser. It is often only after other women step forward to say that they were abused by a perpetrator that a victim may realize that they are dealing with a serial abuser or pedophile.

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