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Four Common Misconceptions about Sexual Assualt

On Friday, Donald Trump Tweeted this

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.  I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time and place.”

@realDonaldTrump 9/21/18
https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1043126336473055235?s=12

It’s so many things wrong with this Tweet.  Here are a few.

1. Trump is victimizing the victim.  Dr. Christine Bleasy Ford alleged that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s.  It’s hard being the victim of any crime but especially sexual assault.  If a woman comes out and states that she had been raped or abused sexually the blaming/judging questions come out “Why didn’t you tell the police?”, “Why did you wear that to a party?” or “Why did you let that happen?”  The fact of the matter is this – NO ONE WANTS TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.  That person’s body was violated in a way that no one would ever understand. People don’t tell the police, their parents or their friends because they don’t want to be judged, shamed or be asked the stupid questions above.  These are secrets that some people take to their graves. They suffer in silence and that’s why, Mr. Trump, there is no record of this awful attack. 

2. He assumes everyone that’s been sexually assaulted goes to the police. Dr. Brene Brown, who is amazing and has great TED talks, has done a ton of research on shame.  She says, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” But that’s not what happens to many sexual assault victims.  She goes on to say, “If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.” As a therapist, I met victims of sexual assault that were coerced by someone close to them, a parent, friend, or family member, who made statements like “You must have wanted it because you let him stay on you” or “Your top was low cut and that’s why he did it.” Hearing this makes them NOT want to go to the authorities because they feel they will be chastised and not taken seriously as their closest confidants have done.

3. He downplays the significance of sexual assault.  Here are some statistics from RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) that lets us know that sexual assault is a huge deal. I’ll just leave this right here…

  • Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted and only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison
  • Females ages 16-19 are 4x more like to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.  
  • A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18: 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are age 12-17
  • Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.
  • 1 out of 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted)

4. He should have praised Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for what she is doing. #metoo.  In my eyes, Dr. Ford is a hero for coming out with her story about Judge Kavanaugh. It doesn’t matter if the event happened years ago, her timing is still right. Too many women suffer in silence of the violation that has happened to them.  The death threats she is receiving are from cowards who don’t understand how sexual assault can affect a person.  I stand with Dr. Ford because I was her.  I am a victim of rape – twice.  The nightmares, shame, guilt, pain, crying spells, and thoughts of suicide, were just a few of the side effects I received.  And I did go to the authorities, after the second rape, just to have my case thrown out because there was no DNA evidence (I took a shower immediately after it happened).  So yes, I understand and empathize with Dr. Ford and I wish I could be in Washington when she testifies to stand with her in solidarity.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, I encourage you go to your local authorities and/or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE for help.  If you are looking for someone to talk to, I encourage you to seek counseling. Purposeful Counseling, LLC works with clients that have endured traumatic events, like sexual assualt, to help ease trauma symptoms. If interested, please send an inquiry to mwebb@purposefulcounseling.org 

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