Too often, those who do not report their assault or abuse are criticized and face judgment and sometimes even public character assassination in addition to the additional risk posed to their safety. As though their choice means they are lying or exaggerating what happened. We all make a choice based on our lives, the circumstances we are in and would have to face either way. If you have been assaulted or abused and have chosen not to come forward and publicly make an accusation, you have nothing to feel guilty about. We are not right or wrong either way. You have to look out for your well-being first and foremost. If you feel you can handle it and you want to report it, please do so. If you feel like it’s putting you at additional risk and jeopardizing your safety, if you feel you lack support, or if you emotionally cannot endure it, you don’t have to. I’ll respect your choice either way, because it isn’t about me. It’s about you.
Even if you do decide to share your story, you don’t have to put your name and face to it. Many survivors (and those still being abused) come forward and share their story anonymously so they can get a support group and begin healing. Just as many only choose to reveal the trauma and their vulnerability to a select few.
Your story doesn’t matter only if your name and face are attached to it. Your story ALWAYS matters. YOU always matter. What’s best and safest for you always matters. And that’s the only thing that should be the main influence behind your choice to report or not and to share it with others or not.
It gets under my skin when someone I do not know asks me “Well did you report?” when they hear or read that I was assaulted. I know they’re looking for a reason to doubt my story. Whether they intended to be cruel or not, it’s a form of victim blaming. Victims do not owe explanations for what they did or did not do after being assaulted.
I did report although I didn’t want to. My job title is Victim Advocate and it was a very hard thing to do! But had I not reported it would not have lessened the validity of my experience.
Respect the manner in which a survivor chooses to tell their story. Respect that it is their right to tell as little or as much as they want. Don’t ask…
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