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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

By Antaraa Anandan, Neuqua Valley, and Cailey Gleeson, Trinity

In a recent publication by the Justice Department, 204,000 people in the United States were victims of sexual assault in 2015. The report indicated that 91% of the reported victims in the past year were female―and only 32.5% of the crimes were reported to the authorities.

Sexual assault victims have notoriously put the circumstances surrounding their attacks ahead of their own trauma in an attempt to avoid the disturbing trends among victims of sexual crimes, such as re-victimization and scrutiny surrounding their allegations.

Many survivors feel the criminal justice system will be unable to adequately pursue justice for their attack. Highly publicized sexual assault cases with lenient verdicts―such as the six month sentence imposed on Brock Turner after his sexual assault of an unconscious woman―have only emphasized these feelings amongst victims.

As a result, many victims continue on as though nothing has happened, keeping their stories to themselves as they are rendered terrified of the potential ramifications that will arise of reporting their assaults.

Despite these trends, 12 women refused to be silenced in the wake of the Donald Trump scandal that arose several weeks ago–which included the release of a tape that features the candidate explicitly speaking about sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, these women were met with “typical” response that causes the majority of victims to remain silent about their attack. These women were met with vicious denial and scrutiny of their words, with Trump vehemently questioning their motivations for and essentially disregarding their accusations.

The hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport surfaced on Twitter amidst the scandal in an attempt to display support for the women who had found themselves intensely scrutinized by the media and general public alike.

Sexual assault victims of various backgrounds utilized the social media platform to share their personal experiences. Furthermore, advocates for the prevention of sexual assault used the hashtag to share resources with survivors to aid in the process of maintaining a sense of normalcy and coping with their assaults.

Celebrities, including Rose McGowan, joined the conversation to offer their insights as to why this is a disturbing reality for women across the world.

Among her series of tweets regarding the hashtag, one of the most powerful included her own disturbing experience of being a victim of sexual assault.

“Because it’s been an open secret in Hollywood/media,” McGowan tweeted. “And they shamed me while adulating my rapist.”

These women―and thousands of others who utilized the social media trend―did not report because they believed the law would cause them to lose something rather than gain the justice they deserve.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) published a series of statistics that emphasizes the lack of reported sexual assaults to police.

According to the data used in their examples, only 344 out of 1,000 rape cases are reported―which is a mere 34.4%. This is 1.9% higher than the actual number of reported cases in 2015.

Of these reported cases, RAINN states that typically only 63 of these reported cases will lead to arrest and an astonishing number of only six rapists will be incarcerated for their crimes.

It’s no coincidence that many women across the world have faced the brutal experience of victim shaming and other ramifications of rape culture.

Using statistics from the Justice Department and other sources, Vox estimated that nearly 627,700 people are sexually assaulted annually in the United States alone. To put this determination into perspective, the number was described as being larger than the entire population of Las Vegas, Atlanta or Miami.

When facts like this exist, it further exemplifies the problems presented by the prevalent rape culture in today’s society.

Why is it so hard for rape victim’s stories to be taken seriously? Why must they live their lives in silent suffering after the attack? Above all, why is it so easy for a presidential candidate to speak about sexual assault and then dismiss it as “locker room talk?”

For anyone who may be recovering from a sexual assault―and may be unwilling to report it, the phone number below is a free, confidential line that is available 24/7 to provide support for victims of sexual assault:

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE

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