Much has been said, online and elsewhere, about the New York Magazine cover story featuring the Cosby rape victims.* It’s an amazing story and a truly stunning visual image.
The magazine left an empty chair to represent all of the victims who are unwilling or unable to speak out. The Twitter hashtag #TheEmptyChair took off in response, with other sexual assault victims posting their own stories of unreported sexual assaults.
Society doesn’t support rape victims. Their stories are repeatedly questioned and undermined, in a way that victims of other crimes do not face. (Watch: If A Robbery Report Was Treated Like A Rape Report) Victims are often not believed, even by their own family and friends. They are stigmatized for life (Google “Would you date a rape victim?” and see how horrible it can be.)
In other words, it is totally understandable why sexual assault is a grossly underreported crime.
But I guess not to some people.
In response to the Cosby piece, I have seen so many responses shaming victims who didn’t report their crimes at all or reported them much later (as with the Cosby victims.) “Why didn’t you go to the police?” they ask. Then sometimes blaming the victim for their assailant’s future attacks. “Well if you had reported this person, they couldn’t have raped someone else,” they say. As if rape is the fault of anyone but the rapist.
You wanna know why people don’t report their sexual assaults? It’s because people like that work for the police and the hospitals and the prosecutor and are family members and friends and colleagues. Victims know they will be treated terribly by the system and by society. If you’re one of those people wondering why victims don’t report, you are the reason.
*I am calling them victims and not alleged victims because I believe them. It’s my blog and I’ll set whatever standard I want.