Same Old Song & Dance, or Why Sexual Assault is So Unreported, In a Nutshell

This story could be a checklist for why sexual assaults so often go unreported.

  1. The “vindictive woman” accusation. How she was “enthusiastic at the time” and is now just meanly making things up.

  2. The victim-blaming. “Why would you go with him if you were afraid?”

  3. The dismissal. “How could a man in a position of authority (and armed authority at that) possibly be intimidating enough to make you do something you didn’t want to do?”

  4. The institutional discouragement. “I don’t dispute it happened, but nobody else will believe you over him/you’ll be tagged as a troublemaker if you say anything.”

Shit like this is what everyone making a sexual assault claim weighs before saying anything. Forget “equal” cabinets or pretty sayings like “because it’s 2016”. Until courts and law enforcement stop discouraging and shaming victims*, until we recognise that the default setting on sexual assault cases is “make it go away”, we’ve still got a long, hard fight.

*Using the term victims, because it’s all too easy with chants of “I believe the women” to lose sight of the fact that anyone can be sexually assaulted, and I don’t want to dismiss anyone who has had it happen. I know it, too, is a loaded term but pretty much all of them are.


A bit of good news:

The Globe & Mail has been investigating the treatment of sexual assault cases by police.