Trigger warning for rape/sexual assault.
In the latest episode of Crimewatch (available here), the Singapore Police Force emphasised the need for people who have been sexually assaulted to report the crime as soon as possible. If you don’t do so, the narrator cautions, the perpetrator(s) will remain at large, and will likely abuse others.
Well and good, up till the point where the implicit message is that you, if you do not report, are somehow responsible for further assaults.
Hell, no. That’s not true, that’s never true. The only person responsible for rape is the rapist.
So that’s not a good reason to report, is it?
But if the only party responsible is an attacker, and it is not (ever) the survivor’s fault, then why not report?
Some people don’t understand this. (I want to believe that they are genuinely ignorant, but a part of me is willing to yell, ‘Douches!’ loudly.) Failure to report jeopardises your status as a survivor, they suggest. You must have done something provocative, because honest men have nothing to fear from the law!
Not from the spirit of the law, perhaps, but certainly from the spirit of some people involved in the legal enforcement process, and definitely the spirit of many people in society.
We don’t even need to look abroad, where politicians blithely let rapists walk free even after having received their confession, or where rape kits sit on shelves for years, untested. We’ve seen it at home, too. We’re not in paradise. Rape apologists crawl out the woodwork (such as here, or here).
After all (h/t to @awarenews), it’s alright if the victim was of ‘immoral character’. Good girls can’t be raped. And since no one can ever meet all the standards of a good girl, all women are fair game.
With odds stacked against them, who can blame survivors who don’t report?
I didn’t. And I don’t regret it, because I know I wouldn’t have had the spoons to go through the interrogation, knowing that I’d be likely to lose not just the fight to have what was done to me recognised as assault, but also to lose my own right to privacy.
Not reporting doesn’t make you any less of a person. Survivorship, not victimisation, is what must define you. And, thank you, Crimewatch — failure to report is not failure as a survivor.