First let’s define rape. Rape is non consensual (forced) sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object. This also includes those who are incapacitated and are unable to consent. The term “forcible” rape leads people to believe that rape is only when someone literally fights back. But there are times when someone is drugged or disabled or just frozen in fear and unable to speak or move. Each state has their own definition but people know this kind of action is unwanted. Proving it to society is another battle. Even in the UK the stigma seems to be the same. “Researchers from the University of Surrey have revealed that commonly-held attitudes towards rape are stopping women reporting incidents of sexual assault and stopping attackers from being convicted…The group found that there was a vicious cycle of public attitudes towards rape which ultimately led to these low levels of conviction. For the vast majority, the ‘stranger in the bushes with a knife’ story is the only one that constitutes ‘real rape’. When discussing or considering incidents that don’t conform to the stereotype, people often blame the victim – for example presuming that women provoke rape through their appearance, implying that they exaggerate assault behaviour, exonerating perpetrators by agreeing that once a man is aroused he is unable to rationally control his actions, and suggest that only women who frequent bars or get drunk – get raped.” read more
Many males as well as females do not report being sexually assaulted. Stats on rape are very disturbing with 42% of people being raped before the age of 18. Of the 200+ females I’ve spoken to most have not reported the rape and some would never have told anyone except that they became pregnant. And the crazy thing is that many females who are raped as children go on to act out what they were “taught” as a child. My hope in writing this article is to help society once again to understand the mindset of the abused. My prayer is that there will be less false accusations and more desire to understand what is happening so that society will not add to the problem. Children now are not only being assaulted by family members or people they know but are being born and raised to be trafficked for sexual use. I personally have known situations where parents were actually pimping out their daughters. Yes they have escaped but the parents have not been prosecuted! When society joins with the abuser to attack those who are already hurting there is no end to the pain. Things aren’t always what they appear to be. Statistics from the Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2008-2012 show that we have the lowest number of reported rapes in over 30 years yet sex trafficking is at an all time high. So what is happening?
The chart below is from RAINN. It is amazing to me that 97% of rapists will walk free leaving behind a torrent of broken and even dead victims. On RAINN’s site they say, “The most common reason given by victims (23%) is that the rape is a “personal matter.” Another 16% of victims say that they fear reprisal, while about 6% don’t report because they believe that the police are biased.” I can speak from experience when I say an abused child fears for their life. But society thinks, “How crazy is that?” Telling someone will make it all stop and anyone can see that. No they can’t. When someone tells you that you are the problem and you will bring shame on your family it seeps deep into your being. Being told that you will be punished cruelly if anyone finds out makes no sense but that is what I believed. It wasn’t until I saw my mother slap the teen boy across the face that I knew she was on my side. I was held prisoner by my abuser’s words implanted in my mind. I have found over and over that I am not alone.
I have such a hard time when I hear that those who are there to protect are blaming victims. Many mothers will blame daughters as young as seven for her father’s pr stepfather’s sexual abuse. I’ve heard many times that mothers even became angry with the child and make comments like “you’re trying to steal my husband.” Absolutely makes no sense at all.
The majority of rape victims don’t report and when they do so few of their attackers receive any punishment. Women have complained over and over that they were treated like the criminal even being asked what they were wearing or doing at the time as if somehow rape is acceptable if a woman acts a certain way. I taught my sons that they were not to touch a woman even if she were standing naked in front of them. They had no “right” to do anything to her. I have found that sex outside of marriage never helps any relationship but I have seen the benefits of keeping sex only for marriage.
It is shame that is the number one reason for not reporting followed by the feelings that they wouldn’t be believed. Rape Abuse Incest National Network says “Every 2 minutes another American is sexually assaulted.”
I want the voices of those who were denied their voice to be heard here.I posted a question on FB asking “Ladies if you were raped did you report it and if not, why? The following comments were the answers given.
Anna Richey, CHOICES4LIFE board member and speaker, feared for her family. “I was a kid and he told me my mom would go to jail and my brother, sister and I would go into foster care and be split up.”
Shelly said that her uncle was her abuser and he had ways of keeping her silent with the same threats. This man did his torture in an office where the family worked downstairs. He’d turn the intercom on and tell her that if she made one sound they would come for her. She was only seven at the time.
Another woman told me, “I did not go to the police. Reason? I had almost no memory of any details only that it DID happen. I had a drug put into my drink at a bar and I was raped in the women’s restroom late at night. I drove home with the windows down to keep myself from passing out…I knew something had happened, but I couldn’t remember. How was I to tell the Police anything! I still cannot remember details but bits and pieces come back to me at strange times. I know it happened, but who would believe me?”
Still another wrote to me privately. She is unable to this day to share her name with her story but says when I asked why she didn’t report what was happening to her: “Fear for my life. He described how he would kill me if I told. He said I was a problem kid and everyone would think I ran away and would never look for my body in the pond with cement blocks tied to it. Fear for my little sister. If I wasn’t there, what would he do to her? I had to be the one to stand between her and him. If I wasn’t there, he would hurt her instead. And finally, after getting the courage to tell, it was all shoved under the rug by the other adults around me and I was shipped off to another state for a period of time… I lost my home, my friends, my horse, my family unit, my mom, i couldn’t protect my sister… all I had ever known was taken from me at age 13. I learned the lesson that if I told on him, I was punished and what happen from that point was all my fault… all the anger and hurt and turmoil in our lives was because I told. When I was finally allowed to come home, my mother sat me and him down and said if it happened again, we were both out of there. And it happened again, with two family members this time. What person in their right mind would go through that again? And then the pregnancy couldn’t be hidden, so I told my story through the court system in a paternity suit, and once again… nothing was done to him and I suffered the consequences and was made to feel the guilty party. If a county prosecutor and a judge know about it and do nothing, why try to tell anyone else? Report what? To whom? It’s all known by those around you, and apparently, its all good. Just be quiet, this is normal. That was my take on it as an older teen.When I say my daughter saved me from despair, I had lost hope, death would be mercy, I was unimportant, a throw away kid. My child conceived in rape pulled me from that despair. I would make sure she NEVER felt she was a throw away kid, that she grew to know love and had purpose in life, a deeper meaning to life. I had a purpose in my life given by her existence… I was now wanted and needed and loved by someone else in the world. God used that baby to give me hope and a purpose. She was a blessing. “
Tayhise, who was raped from age 2 by her father and became pregnant at 12 says, “I did not tell cuz honestly in the situation I was in no cared and all who did know beat me to stay quiet cuz it made, them look bad.”
J.F. said, “No, either time. I was in a relationship with one. I had previously dated the other. I was pretty sure either no one would believe me, or no one would care.”
Another woman said, “knew it was too dangerous. I was a ‘throw away person’ with no one to protect me, completely hopeless. I was abducted and raped numerous times, once by a dorm full of young men. When one covered my face with a pillow, I didn’t resist, suffocating to death would have been welcomed.”
Kathryn says,“Too many believe rape doesn’t apply to marriage. I felt I had no right to report it, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.” This is a whole other area where rape is acceptable because the rapist is married to his victim. You can hear the personal stories on our BlogTalk Radio Show “Married To A Rapist” .
Nicole says, “I was molested by my father and it was reported charges were un-founded several times.”
Audra Hairston wrote “Embarrassed and didn’t want the finger pointed at me. And when I did report it when it occurred another time, the police did nothing and people again treated me bad and called me a whore and said I wasn’t raped. It was sad and horrible. Yah (the name for the Lord) helped me heal from the events and I’m thankful. Also, I forgave the rapist and people said how could I have been raped if I could talk to the person and forgive them. Ignorant folks!”
Ramona wrote, “I did and was humiliated in court by the man’s family, the attorney and the judge. How I wish now I would have stayed strong and been older and wiser. (Name withheld because its a very common name) might have been able to escape the punishment for what he did to my 17 year old body; but, I believe he has done it again and was made to pay. I am 56 now and still think of what this monster did to me. NEVER follow through like I did. My attorney begged me to bring him to justice. I wish I would have fought the fear and humiliation and did that.I left my home at 12 1/2 and never looked back. Met my awesome husband at 19 and finally knew there was a good man. YOU KNOW and that is all that really matters. They all knew it too~~they chose to deny it and cover it. That is their sin and guilt.“
Holly said, “When I reported it to my parents, they refused to believe me. When I insisted that I was telling the truth, they hit me with a pillow and accused me of lying. When I told them that the bastard had forced oral sex on me, they accused me of imagining it. At the time, I was only twelve. Unfortunately, back then such outrages were considered to be a “dirty family secret.”. It would be another two decades before open discussion of these issues finally became acceptable.”
Stacey wrote, “Yes I was raped by a wealthy man and his associate while out one night when I was 20 yrs old. I had been drinking underage and doing drugs. He slipped me a ‘mickey’ and said it was X. I won’t get into all the details here but I did not report it. I thought at the time I would get drug through the mud by his attorney for being on alcohol and drugs when it happened. I was molested by a schoolmate in 8th grade…He was a popular boy and I was an outcast. He lived down the street from me and also rode my bus. He used to trap me on the bus any touch me and he used to corner me in a spot in the hallways at school and rub himself all over me. When I told on him no one pressed any charges and the assistant principal moved him out of all my classes…well the whole school turned on me and started calling me all kinds of terrible things and making my life even more hellish and because he rode my bus I stopped riding the bus and started walking 5 miles home from school every day. He was enraged that I had told on him and he and one of his friends came and set our outside building on fire at my house and they went to school bragging to everybody about it. I refused to stay there at that school after the year ended and went to live with my dad in KY for high school.”
Cheryl said, “The first time I did (late 1980’s). I was treated so badly by the police and the court system that I didn’t bother reporting it when it happened again.”
Emma said the same thing, “I did report the first time and was made to feel it was my fault so when it happened again I didn’t bother”
Ginny said, “I was a child, and nobody listened to me. when it happened when I was older, I went into shock and couldn’t even talk.”
Trish(Not her real name) a twin who survived an abortion but her twin did not, said, “I was molested a number of times growing up, usually in the context of babysitting situations (where my brothers and I were being babysat.) I never reported a single incident. I believed the lie that it was my fault, that I was somehow bad. One was a landlord’s boyfriend who told me that if I told anyone, we would lose our apartment. I was the oldest of 4 kids with a newborn brother, and I felt responsible, not wanting us to be out on the streets with a newborn. I somehow always knew that, if I ever said anything to my mother, I would be blamed. Turns out I was right. One of her boyfriends tried to grope one of my kids on Christmas Eve. My child came to me. When we said something to my mom, she blamed my child. Another person that my mother became close friends with molested my child. At 3 years old, that child disclosed, and we called the authorities. He plea bargained to “harassment.” TO THIS DAY, my mother accuses my child of lying and defends the molester, and accuses me of lying, even though the investigator, Dr, CPS, and everyone else believed the truth. It was, in fact, out of my mother, years later viciously attacking me over FB that my own story finally came out, that she had tried to abort me. I never could figure out why or how she would choose the word of a molester, not just over my word, but over her grandchild’s word, who was incapable of making such a thing up. I cried out to God, begging Him to show me why my mom hates me so much and is so bent on destroying me. And God told me, finally, because she tried to abort you. The next day, her cousin called to tell me some things about my mom that might help explain her behavior, which included the fact that she had had several abortions. So, no, I never reported anything that happened to me, because I was correct in believing that I would not be believed by her, and that she would blame me.”
Kristen said, “2007. Reported it and it was thrown out. I knew the person, conceived and miscarried a couple of months later. Almost happened a second a time in 2008 just after I started dating my husband. A housemate of mine at the time, just before I was moving out, had tried. I actually defended myself…probably from adrenalin and having had it happen before only a year previously. It’s hard to cope with at times, and even more so difficult to have it not affect my intimacy with my spouse. But I have Jesus, my rock, my salvation. Every day is a new victory and every year it gets better. This is one of those closet secrets that very few know about.”
Jackie said, “Just a thought… reporting rape is important because we may help protect the next innocent person down the line. We know they often repeat offend. If we do nothing, if it isn’t reported, if we don’t try, what happens to the next woman in the rapists sights? We have a responsibility,(even if we fail in our attempt) to report it… for the next victim, (or three victims). Reporting, even if never tried in a court, leaves a legal trail of suspicion on the rapist. Even family members who say they don’t believe your accusation of molestation, will pull their children a little closer to them in the presence of the rapist/ molester. Our society truly fails if we don’t keep trying to defend the innocent. We are strong people; we CAN make a difference. God only asks us to do our assigned part, and leave the rest to Him.”
You get the picture. Their stories are not “rare” but very much the norm. Family, friends, police, doctors and society in general does not want to believe rape happens. But it does especially to children. I beg you to believe anyone that tells you they have been raped. Sure there will be a few that lie but there are lies in any situation. We must not let rapists run free because a very few women have lied. That’s like throwing all our laws out the window because people break them. Most people would never think of helping a rapist hurt a child or anyone else but that is exactly what we do when we ridicule a victim or tell them they are lying.
You’ve heard from real victims who have nothing to gain by telling their story. BELIEVE them and help others to find justice. First time rapists will attack again and again. YOU can stop them by believing their victims!
Here is a site to help avoid becoming a rape victim.
For those who would like to know what to say to someone who says they’ve been raped here’s a link that will help. A Guide for Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault Sometimes the words don’t come easy and that’s the time to be a great listener. Victims need to be believed. It takes a lot to speak about being raped so what victims need most is your support.
If you are pregnant by rape please don’t hesitate to contact us for support. If you have been raped and not pregnant there are agencies that will believe you. Don’t fall for the lies that you are to blame.
National Child Abuse Hotline 1.800.422.4453 www.childhelp.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255 www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
GRACE is a non-profit organization made up of highly trained and experienced multi-disciplinary professionals who seek to educate and empower the Christian community to identify, confront and respond to the sin of child abuse.
If no one in this world believes you know that God does. Why didn’t He stop it? I have don’t know. But what I do know is that there is no comfort like His and no freedom without Him. Christ died believing you are worth it. Revelation 12:11 They overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony
4 thoughts on “Why Rape Is Not Reported”
My husband and I were separated for 8months, he said he wasn’t willing to work on anything and wanted a divorce pretty much the whole time. I finally allowed myself to go on a date w someone I had chatted online with. I figured a public bar would be safe. Somehow he no doubt slipped something in a drink of mine I had one and a half drinks ,and before I knew it,I was in the back of his car,pants down, it was obvious what had happened yet I didn’t even recall leaving the bar,or anything else. Still don’t. My husband came back ,not much notice, on Christmas. I’d started to feel super I’ll, found out I was pregnant. My husband and I talked about what I remembered, I never did report it, I was a single,working mom, and I just wanted that nightmare over. But, suddenly, found myself pregnant. The fact that I couldn’t put a proper timeline together for my husband, as ive continued to do all I can to forget what I do know, he’s constantly thrown in my face I must be lying, and must have been consensual, and more than once etc… It is just how I said. I dont know, but I don’t think forgetting the when calandar wise that it happened must be semi common, cant be unheard of… I do know Ive told what I know to my husband, and I’m so tired of having to defend myself continuously to him about the facts. These facts ive given have not ever changed, its fact…what else can I say…he had asked me to keep the baby as I was thinking adoption, said he’d be the father, now tells me I’m a liar and he’s left
I’m so very sorry Theresa. Sadly victims of rape are almost always called liars. If I could stop that one thing from happening justice could be served. Know that we stand with you and you are not alone. If we can help you please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was the victim of an attempted rape in college – a man broke into my trailer and tried to rape me. Months later, I figured out who did it: a guy I went out with on one date the year before. I debated if I should go to the police or not. I figured my credibility was shot since I didn’t recognize him the night it happened. Ultimately, I decided not to go to the police. Just recently, I wrote a memoir on my experience and all the reasons I didn’t go to the police entitled The Flutter of Butterfly Wings: A True Story of Friendship, Love, and Obsession. Some of my reasons for writing the book were to capture the complexity of sexual assault, the details that may not matter to the police but mattered to me, and how I feared all the decisions in my life would be under a microscope if I came forward. I finally decided to publish my story in the hopes that it would bring to light complex issues surrounding sexual assault.
Thank you Julie Ann. It DOES matter and I am so grateful that you are brave enough to step forward and share your experiences. There are countless people who will benefit from knowing they are not alone.