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Asking Why

TW/CW: sexual assault, rape


Often when we see stories of survivors of sexual assault in the news, there are plenty of people asking: why? On Facebook, on the news, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, you hear everyone asking: Why didn’t they report? Why didn’t they say something sooner? Why didn’t they come forward? Why didn’t they fight their attacker off?


Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had her entire life put on display last year for this very thing. She accused Brett Kavanaugh, a then-nominee for Supreme Court Justice, of sexually assaulting her when they were in college. Anyone with access to a keyboard or a microphone took to the media asking, why didn’t Dr. Ford report this when it happened? Why did she wait so long? Why isn’t she acting like someone who’d been raped? Why didn’t she say anything sooner?


A visit to the Instagram account @WhyIDidntReportIt may shine some light on this particular “why”. Created by two students at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, Ha Jung Song and Bowook Yoon, the now-Webby award-winning account allows survivors to anonymously share their reasons for not reporting acts of sexual assault:


I was told to be the bigger person.

Because he said he would kill me, and I believed him.

Everyone told me I was being dramatic.

Because I was scared they’d blame me for dressing “sexy”

He threatened to take away my child.

My mom would have been fired. He was her boss.

Because he said he felt like a monster afterward.

He led me to believe that I deserved the abuse.

Because by the time I realized what had happened to me and how it shaped my life, I had also learned that the world is not kind to survivors.


Why didn’t Dr. Ford come forward sooner? It could be for all these reasons, and more.

Survivors of sexual assault experience many lasting and damaging effects. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 94% of rape victims experience symptoms of PTSD in the two weeks following the abuse. Thirty percent (30%) report symptoms as long as nine months after. Thirty-three percent (33%) of victims contemplate suicide, whereas 13% of victims attempt suicide. Overall, approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience “