#WhyIDidntReport highlights society’s long-term problems

Published 12:05 pm Saturday, September 29, 2018

by Kenya Smith

For the past few years, sexual assault has been a major topic in today’s society. Both women and men have opened up about how they were sexually violated. These personal discussions have begun movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp. Now, at the wake of a sexual assault investigation involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, there’s a new movement that is adding to the narrative, #WhyIDidntReport.

#WhyIDidntReport is a huge clap back to the skeptics who believe that the victims waited too long to report their incidents. What many fail to understand is that even if they had reported their ordeal right away, nine times out of 10, it would have been a huge disaster for the victims. Some victims felt ashamed to talk about being sexually violated, especially if the alleged perpetrator was a family member or was prominent and well liked in the community.

Then, there were those who decided to say something right away, but it didn’t work. In October 1991, millions watched as Anita Hill sat in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify that she had been sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas who was a nominee for the Supreme Court at the time. Despite Hill’s detailed and graphic testimony, Thomas, was confirmed as Supreme Court Justice.   Recently, a man won’t go to prison for strangling and sexually assaulting a woman in Anchorage, Alaska. All he was given was a slap on the wrist by the judge. When victims brought up their ordeal to their families, co-workers and law enforcement, it was either swept under the rug or dismissed by unbelief. In some cases, the victims are held responsible for the assault instead of the perpetrator.

Others victims have seen how the court system uses factors that do not determine the possibility of being sexually violated such as dress, location, sexual history and intoxication in order blame individuals.Whether the victim’s attire was modest or not, that’s no guarantee that a person will not be sexually violated. There are many people around the world who live by strict dress codes, and yet they are sexually violated. Just because a victim was intoxicated with drugs or alcohol, that doesn’t mean they’re giving consent. I don’t care whether the victims were promiscuous or not, if they said no verbally or physically (brushing off a hand or pushing someone away,) they meant no. I certainly don’t care if the perpetrator was prominent in society. In order to make our justice system better, we must make sure that no one is above the law.

I pray that the #WhyIDidntReport movement, as well as #MeToo and #TimesUp will tell society to stop making loopholes and excuses for the abusers by shaming and blaming the victims.

This is not to say that these movements are perfect, because when humanity is involved, there is no such thing as perfect. I am also aware of the stories of Emmett Till and the Scottsboro boys whose accusers recanted their stories of sexual assault. Also, Lena Baker is another person who needs to be recognized on the forefront for she had suffered at the mercy of her boss and was executed for his death. I pray that victims will no longer have to suffer in silence nor be intimidated for speaking out and that the truth will come out.

KENYA SMITH is an intern at The Tidewater News. Contact her at 562-3187 or kenya.smith@tidewaternews.com