Why don't we believe women?
Why don’t we believe women?
In their lifetime, one fourth of women are sexually assaulted. However, proving sexual assault in our legal system is nearly impossible, and more often than not, dangerous men are let off with a slap on the wrist. Still, the bigger issue here is that survivors of assault are questioned, accused, and often dismissed as liars and attention seekers.
The mere social dynamics we are born into play a large role in how we treat survivors of sexual assault (majoraly women). Although it’s never directly stated, what we witness growing up teaches us that men are superior to women: that they’re stronger, smarter, more reliable. From an early age girls learn that their values lie in being sensible, pretty, well put together. As we get older we are expected to be more mature than our male counterparts, and in the instances we are punished for our mistakes, those of young boys are often dismissed as boys “just being boys”. It comes as no shock to me that in sexual assault cases the survivor is seen as less reliable. Now the abuse is often justified as “men being men”. The accused is somehow transformed into the victim himself.
On a similar note, as humans we tend to defend those we can relate to, or understand. Men tend to defend men, not because what they’re saying is particularly trustworthy or accurate, but because they feel sympathy for their own kind. Sexual assault is the victim vs the accused, however it is portrayed as the man against the woman--- men against women. It feels as though we are pitted against justice. It feels as though we are pitted against each other.
It is also human nature to be unaccepting of the things we don’t understand, and sexual assault is something that people seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around. It’s hard to imagine: to have such graphic images floating around in our heads. So, we try not to picture it, we push it to the back of our minds, and I think eventually it’s hard to believe it really happens. When hearing the chilling details of sexual assault, we aren’t able to understand, so to protect ourselves from that type of discomfort, we aren’t willing to listen.
We ask irrelevant questions: Why were you there, Were you drinking, What were you wearing, Why didn’t you try harder. We blame the victim. We victimize the victim all over again. People rack their brains for reasons not to believe, and for ulterior motives to pin on the victim.
When we are able to believe her, we must often subconsciously portray her as weak, helpless.