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Jun 22

#ididnotreport: Stephanie Zvan

The #ididnotreport series is an opportunity for rape and sexual assault victims to tell their stories when they may have been prevented  from reporting it to authorities. These come with a pretty hefty Trigger Warning as they contain very truthful details about the realities of rape and sexual assault.

This particular #ididnotreport was originally posted by Stephanie on her blog at Almost Diamonds under the title Why #IDidNotReport. It is reprinted with permission here.

All this lack of sleep. All this having to continually focus on a single topic to keep it on track. All the sneers. All the yelling. And what finally makes me just throw my hands up and sit down and cry? [Warning: There's a fair chance I'm about to do the same to you.]

This.*

look it’s all ok for people to say she can decide what she wants to do with the threats. NO IT IS NOT!

if you are raped and do not report it and someone else is raped, you are partially responsible for that rape.

In this case, Ophelia has an obligation to report the threat and to share with other women, jerk men do not just attend TAM. They ATTEND lots of skeptic/humanist conferences. NOT outing this guy and reporting him, is like “oh well, I’m safe, good luck to the rest of you women.”

No, as a woman Ophelia has an obligation to her fellow women to keep them safe, and also to make sure these guys don’t “win”. To say “I quit” is to say “you win jerk man that has threatened me” and he has learned “wow threatening women really works well! I will try it more often!”

She can not attend and should not if she feels unsafe. But not posting the threat and who made it? That is not reporting a crime against women. Women don’t do that to women.

Oh, don’t they? When I was sexually assaulted, one of my best friends was sitting next to me. What did she do about it? Well, afterward, she told my date what had happened so he wouldn’t feel so bad about things not having gone as well as they could have. She didn’t do anything at the time.

What did my date do? He got angry that his dad had done something like this. Again. Embarrassed too, I think. He didn’t really talk to me about it.

That was it. That was the help I had in dealing with what happened.

I had other friends, too, but how could I tell them about this? Either they were in the same boat I was with regards to resources, or they had lives that were so far removed from anything like this (or so I thought then) that they couldn’t understand. Telling them about this would have required bringing them to a place where they could feel the same vulnerability I had. It would have meant changing their lives, assuming I could have done that at all.

Telling my mother certainly would have meant changing her life. She would have done it, but I carried too much responsibility back then to ask.

Telling the authorities would have meant changing my life even more than it had been changed. It would have meant drawing attention to myself when what I wanted more than anything in the world was to disappear permanently. It would have meant everyone looking at me when I was already painfully self-conscious. It would have meant explaining why I was on the other side of a state line, why I was drinking at age 15, why I was with the people I was with–all at a time when I already knew there was nothing I could do right and that everything was my fault.

I had no resources for coping with the results of telling my friends, my mother, or the authorities. The only thing I had the strength to do was put the whole thing aside and refuse to look at it at all for ten years. It was another 15 before I could write about it. I’m still not sure I can talk about it out loud.

That was what I could do. That and somehow survive, despite being exceptionally vulnerable.

Does my fragility mean that the person who assaulted me went on to assault other girls? Maybe. Likely even.

Here’s the thing that keeps me from killing myself over that, though. (Yes, I mean that literally.) I’m not a victim of sexual assault who just happened to be too weak to report. I’m a victim of sexual assault because I was too weak to report.

The guy who assaulted me didn’t assault every woman or even every girl he came across. That isn’t how this works. It isn’t any sort of “bad luck” that some women are assaulted repeatedly while others aren’t. It isn’t an accident that children and women who are poor, immigrants, non-white, non-gender-conforming, etc. and on are assaulted at much higher rates. They are assaulted exactly because they are the people with the fewest resources to report and fight back.

They choose those of us who have been pushed to the edge of the herd. There’s a reason we refer to them as predators. It’s because the analogy fits.

Not only is it my assailant’s fault that he assaulted whomever he assaulted, but it’s his fault that it took me as long as it did to say anything at all. I did not report because the person who assaulted me did a very good job of finding someone who would not report. And none of what went into that was my fault.

*I got something similar at the start of all this, but I was less worn down then.

For full details on submitting your own personal #ididnotreport go here or email me with questions. There are adjustments to comment policies in these posts. Authors get to choose whether comments are allowed. If comments are allowed, I will not tolerate any comments that are less than supportive for the victims. I will delete them without warning. These posts are not the place for nuanced discussion. The purpose is to give rape and sexual victims a voice

2 comments

  1. 1
    Timid Atheist

    When I first saw this on your blog, Stepahnie, I felt bad for not having read your first post about it. I came to FTB via Blag Hag’s move and only starting reading you after I’d discovered the rest of the blogs. But I also felt grateful to see you sharing it despite how hard it is to share things like this.

    Though the Blag Hag blog is what got me started on my current path, your blog especially has kept me on it. You precise, a good writer and very welcoming. Thank you for sharing and thank you for standing up for so many of us that have no way to stand up for ourselves. You’re amazing.

  2. 2
    Stephanie Zvan

    Thank you.

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