Sexual Assault Awareness Month: There’s no easy answer but we need to talk about it, and something needs to change.

It’s taken me over two weeks to plan this post. And consequently, it’s taken me over two weeks to realise that no amount of planning is going to create the ‘perfect’ post, on such a complex and horrific topic. So here’s a rather imperfect attempt…

 

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) ‘estimated that approximately 700,000 people aged 16 to 59 years were victims of a sexual assault in the last year’ (2018). But only 150,732 were police recorded. And even then many of them will not result in a conviction. Many offences also don’t proceed any further than the police investigation because of ‘evidential difficulties’.

This is where I got really stumped in writing this post.

 

Seven Hundred Thousand in One Year

 

How could anything I could write make that ok? And if only 150,732 were reported that’s over 500,000 survivors (personally I don’t like the word victim) that have gone without legal justice. But also that’s over 500,000 perpetrators who, at least in the eyes of the legal system, went without punishment. Without any kind of conviction, or record. And crucially, that’s also over 500,000 people that could do it again.

 

 

Why aren’t people coming forward?

If you look online there are hundreds of reasons people have come up with as to why someone doesn’t report their abuse. A lot of them conclude that its shame or that they’re blaming themselves. Or there are cases of disbelief, hopelessness, denial, fear of the consequences, and the list goes on. I’m not going to rely on any of these reasons. Everyone is different. Having never been sexually abused myself, but knowing people that have, the reactions have all been completely contrasting.

 

It’s easy to say that everyone should report sexual abuse, it’s just not so easy to actually do it. And especially when you could report it, and nothing could come from it.

I often find a pretty negative stigma on sexual assault too. I hear a lot about people not believing someone, or think they’re exaggerating. Or people blame the survivor etc. But we should always be supportive to anyone that comes forward and never “victim blame”.

 

All I can really say, having absolutely no experience, knowledge, or right, is that clearly something is pretty f***ing wrong here. 700,000 a year, is about 1,918 assaults a day.

 

Consent shouldn’t have to be something that someone needs to learn. But clearly it is.

Something needs to be done in schools and universities.

We need to know how prolific this is; it shouldn’t be a hushed subject.

Why are that many lives being affected?

Why are people getting away with it so easily?

Why don’t people understand that no means no?

That you can’t force yourself on someone.

That you are not entitled to anyone

But most importantly, what needs to be done and how?

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