Monday, September 24, 2018

Why I Didn't Report

This post is for LB, who did report.

I've never been raped, for which I'm grateful.* But I have been sexually harassed on several occasions, been made uncomfortable by male attention (in a way unconnected to my anxiety), and thrice been touched against my will, all by different people, and in each instance as an adult.** So now I'm here to list the reasons why I didn't report.

1) Because feeling squeamish during an encounter isn't enough of a reason to make a claim against someone.
2) Because I was conditioned by society to believe that I should be flattered by the attention.
3) Because I brushed it off as a symptom of his drunkenness. 
4) Because part of me wanted it, and I thought that made the whole thing okay.
5) Because I was afraid of the consequences of saying no.
6) Because he was sensitive and vulnerable and I didn't want to make it worse for him.

None of these people are in my life anymore, although only by circumstance in all but the last case. Him, I had to cut out because of his terrible behavior (on this front and others). And, in all but the last two cases, I have forgiven the transgression.***

Because it's tough, navigating these situations. I can't know how many of them were one-off incidents borne of alcohol or a moment of bad judgment, and that makes it seem easier to just move past an awkward, uncomfortable, or inappropriate moment. Also, when the incident is minor, moving past it feels like a better choice than making a fuss. And when you have to see some of these people every day of your life, learning to live with the situation makes survival more possible.


Having said all that, I do think that speaking up and defending yourself is important. But having said THAT, I completely understand why some--maybe most--survivors of harassment or assault choose to bury the pain, embarrassment, and shame.

I believe Dr. Ford. I believe all of my friends who have made the decision not to report. I believe the women (and men) who have reported and been brushed aside, ignored, and scapegoated. Because I've been there, too.


* The fact that I feel I have to express my gratitude for not having my bodily autonomy violated too badly is another discussion for another time.
** I'm so lucky not to have experienced any of this as a child. Such a sin against minors is literally the most disgusting thing I can imagine.
*** Whether I should or not.

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