Only 3 out of every 100 rapists will ever spend a day in jail. This statistic was recently released by RAINN via data collected by the Justice Department. According to this same study 54% of rapes continue to go unreported. I personally believe the number is higher. How exactly did they collect the data from the people who have never uttered a sound in regards to what has happened to them? There’s no way those women, men or children were factored in this study. There’s actually no way to know how many sexual crimes go unreported. I personally feel a vast majority of them are not.
First, let’s address the issue of reporting sexual crimes. Whether the number is 54% of sexual crimes going unreported or more, I believe this is one statistic that depends entirely on you. We don’t even need the government to reform laws before we can take measured steps to use our voice and personal strength to pursue justice by reporting crimes. We have to stop dismissing crime. We have to stop belittling it, excusing it or pretending it did not happen.
Why don’t people report sexual crimes? Here are my musings.
1. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE OF SHAME.
2. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE OF FEAR.
3. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE OF GUILT.
4. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE OF REPRESSIVE AUTHORITY FIGURES.
5. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN GROOMED NOT TOO.
6. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW THEIR OPTIONS.
7. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY ARE UNAWARE A CRIME WAS COMMITTED.
8. PEOPLE, especially children, DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO END UP IN THE SYSTEM.
9. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO CAUSE FURTHER DAMAGE.
10. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ANY REAL, TANGIBLE PROOF.
11. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO.
12.PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE THE CRIMINAL IS A MEMBER OF THEIR FAMILY.
13. PEOPLE DON’T REPORT CRIMES BECAUSE OF RELIGION.
I am sure there are a million other reasons as to why a person wouldn’t report a sexual crime. The negative thought processes and perspectives we have in place to continue to allow ourselves and others to live in repression and fear in this shame based society is staggering.
Even if someone is brave and courageous enough to report a crime that was committed against them, a number of those victims are treated like criminals by the authority figures conducting their interview, by the lawyers, by the court and by the system as a whole. I understand that there is a need to vet out false reports and accusations because those occur too, but even with all the proof in the world we still don’t want to believe these heinous crimes have occurred. And even if we know these crimes have occurred, in some ways many people believe they are ok or not that big of a deal.
I’ve also seen cases where even once proof is given of a sexual crime, there is some sort of misguided understanding when it comes to prosecuting these criminals. Some cases, rather than being held in criminal court are held in family court. Or in my case, the sexual crimes were basically dismissed from the case and only the beating I received was addressed but only as battery and not as assault.
Why does the system intentionally allow sexual deviants to go free? Why does the system and community continue to prosecute the victims? Why are we hushed on sexual crimes and quick to dismiss them? There is a sexual conspiracy. I just don’t understand all the why’s yet.
Despite the staggering statistics and the unlikelihood that immediate change will happen as it relates to justice and despite all the odds, I do think its important for every crime to be reported. It is an extremely difficult task. Its just important to me to know that I did everything within my power even if no one else will. Despite all the odds that are against you should you report a crime, years later when looking back on how it all went down, I swear to you if you remain silent, you will wish you had spoken up. Besides the likelihood of that criminal hurting others is a resounding “YES, most definitely.” He’s going to hurt another little girl. She’s going to rape another teenage boy.
Why do you think people don’t report crimes and what can we do to encourage them to speak up? It seems like education is key, for one. Empowering the victim is also key. This will help do away with the shame. We also need to protect the victims so that they are not operating out of a place of fear. They need to feel safe. We also need to provide them with every resource available and surround them with community. This will let them know they are not alone. This will let them know that if every one turns their back on them or they lost everything, there is a safe place for them to go where they will be provided for. What else is needed? How can we help victims use their voice?
This month is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Every day I’ll be writing all types of posts regarding this issue and my personal experiences.
I create videos as a way to share my story. You can watch three related ones by clicking the titles below.
If you are a victim of abuse and assault and you would like to seek help or report your crime, please find all kinds of resources at RAINN. If you would like to share your story with me privately, be featured this month either publicly or anonymously or you just need an encouraging word, please shoot me an email at SheenaLaShay [at] Gmail [dot] com.