Why Now?

I find it nauseating, reading the comments made by people with whom I share a society; comments that suggest women are LYING ABOUT BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, because they “waited so long to come forward.” I’ve seen people -men and women- comment that they’re seeking publicity, or looking to ruin someone’s name/life, or digging for money, or suggesting that they’re lying because they didn’t say anything at the time.
If you’ve ever been sexually assaulted, or even touched in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, however innocuous on the part of the person touching you, you are familiar with the feeling of freezing in time. You know exactly what I mean by that, because that’s what it feels like when you’ve experienced sexual assault: you freeze in your body, in your mind, in your tracks. Should I say anything? Will I sound like I’m making it up? Am I just being too sensitive? Is this going to ruin something, like our friendship, or my job, or my life, or their life? Will they hate me? Will they try to hurt me? What will other people think? Does this make me a bad person? Am I supposed to like it? Do I like it? Do other people like it? What if they do it again, or something else? Should I say anything? Should I laugh? Should I cry? Am I gross?
There are questions no woman or man should ever have to ask themselves. When you’re in the moment, you aren’t thinking clearly, because your mind is clogged with an adrenaline stream that is carrying a constant cycle of questions you have no answer to.
In many cases, women are violated by men of power, and would have undoubtedly ruined their lives by coming forward, so they chose to say nothing. In many cases, something is directly threatened by their coming forward, such as their job.
Can you imagine being told, to your face, in that confusing moment of being touched WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE, that if you say anything about feeling uncomfortable, your monetary support system will be ripped out from under you? What would you do? Would you say something? It’s not an easy choice to make when you’re faced with not being able to pay your bills or eat or have a place to live.
Can you imagine losing a friend or family member, or your spouse even, because you didn’t play along with their sexual demands? The effects would ripple into your entire universe if you said something. It could tear apart your family, and remember, the aggressor has a side of the story they’re likely going to tell everyone. Who will they believe?
Can you imagine whistleblowing on a fucking president? Not just a company president, which would be bad enough, but the president of your country. Could you rationalize in that moment? You suck it up, is what you do. Because it’s easier than living out the consequences of your actions over something “small” like being touched WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE.
Some women never come forward. Some men never come forward. Some men DO come forward, and are immediately discounted because of their gender. There is no shortage of people who are unwilling to believe you. There is no shortage of people who want to prove you wrong. No shortage of people who need you to prove it to the whole world, that you were RAPED, because that’s the only kind of sexual assault that people recognize, and EVEN THEN, people will choose to call you a liar. An attention seeker. A slut. A homewrecker. A scorned woman. A liberal. A lesbian. An angry feminist. There is no shortage of subsequent uncomfortable moments to follow a sexual assault, regardless of what decision you make in the moment.
That’s why people wait to come forward. They wait until they feel like someone is listening, and often, that never comes. If it comes 20 years later, it doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Think about living with that feeling for 20 years; the questions, the nervous feeling that worms through your body when you think about it, the emotional and physical repercussions that come with it all.
Think about finally feeling okay to come forward, because you think someone is listening, and you finally tell your story even though you feel like dying inside, and all of a sudden, it’s your fault. Or people will say that you’re just lying. They are more comfortable to live with the idea that it didn’t happen to you, than to believe that someone is capable of touching something that didn’t belong to them.
Women don’t come forward at the time for many reasons, ALL of which are none of your fucking business. If you want to play judge on a sexual assault case, go to law school. Until then, keep your toxic opinion to yourself, unless you’re offering support in some way. Victim blaming is a disgusting trait that needs to stop, like, yesterday.
-jg