These explain exactly why most of us don’t report our assaults.
A string of tweets from Twitter user SophieChiaka went viral several months ago when it exposed the horrifying realities of retraumatization that survivors encounter in the court system.
You can find the entire thread of tweets HERE, but in this article, I will dissect the quotes that stood out most to me and I feel need to be dug into further.
Many of you will read the quotes in this article and likely experience the same thing I did — You will be extremely disgusted and horrified, and yet you will also not be surprised. Which in itself is even more horrific.
But before we dive into the quotes, let’s just touch on the realities for sexual assault survivors when it comes to reporting their assaults, and the track record of the justice system when it comes to holding attackers accountable for their actions.
The impossible post-assault situation survivors find themselves in.
We’ve become so accustomed as a society to how thoughtlessly sexual assault survivors are brushed off.
Our trauma is often minimalized and trivialized, because the alternative of taking it seriously is too much work or too uncomfortable to touch.
You’ve likely heard before that statistically, over 75% of sexual assault survivors will never report their attack. There are dozens of reasons why this might be the case, but the flip side of that is that there are 25% of those survivors who have courage beyond measure and are brave enough to report their attacker.
As I am not one of those who fall into the category of the 25% who report, and I have an immeasurable amount of respect for the survivors to report their assaults.
And if having the courage to actually step forward and report isn’t enough, survivors are then left to the whims of judges (or juries in some cases) to decide whether there is enough credibility in a survivor’s story to allow them the justice they deserve after being violated.
The scariest result I can imagine if my case went to court would be if I encountered a judge, whose job it is to seek justice, who carries a beyond misogynistic and deplorable view of any female survivor who steps forward.
But that’s exactly what the survivors of the below judges experienced.
Rather than receiving the justice they deserved, their trauma was invalidated and they were further traumatized and humiliated by the disgusting comments and unforgivable words spoken to them by the very people who are supposed to protect them.
Take a deep breath, and prepare to be enraged, because these quotes are really awful in every way.
1. ‘No’ actually means ‘yes’.
“As the gentlemen on the jury will understand, when a woman says no she doesn’t always mean it. Men can’t turn their emotions on and off like a tap like some women can” - Judge Raymond Dean, addressing the jury in a rape trial.
As a human being existing in 2021, I am continually baffled by why the truly black and white concept of consent seems to be so difficult for some people to understand.
And yet, the seemingly unnecessary push to overcomplicate consent is what leaves survivors at such a disadvantage when it comes to receiving justice in their assault cases.
Let’s just set the record straight officially, and just go with that moving forward:
When someone says no, woman or man or non-binary individual, no means no.
Consent is not a game, consent is not mixed messages for fun, consent is not something to be viewed as all willy-nilly just because you’re having sex.
No means f*cking no.
And if a ‘no’ is said, and the other party chooses to ignore it, then whatever they do from there is sexual assault.
The part of this that is so beyond upsetting is that the judge recognizes and fully acknowledges, unapologetically, that there was a ‘no’ that took place in this case. There was a ‘no’ communicated by the victim.
But despite the clear lack of consent, the judge flippantly brushes it off with the blanket statement of, “Though a woman might say no, she doesn’t actually mean it. She actually really wants it. So it’s okay that he kept going.”
Disgusting, deplorable, and shameful.
2. No female victim is dependable enough — especially not children.
“It seems, on the evidence, that this child has not suffered as a result of these offences” - Judge Hutton, talking about an 8 year old girl who had been sexually abused for a year by a convicted child molester.
Of all those in our society who are vulnerable, it doesn’t get more vulnerable than a child.
And in this case, an 8-year-old child was sexually assaulted. That child had more bravery than I could ever imagine to step forward and state that something terrible happened to them.
But the judge doesn’t consider that the testimony of a child is credible enough.
Not only that, but the judge states there’s no evidence… when the accused was already a convicted child molester.
How can a documented and proven history of child molestation not be considered evidence in the case of another assault of a child?
Why is it that the child is automatically seen as non-credible and lying, when the person that they are accusing has already been convicted of the crimes they are now being accused of again?
Children undergo trauma as well. Children need to be protected by us. And this judge in this case is the lowest of the low when it comes to human morality.
I can’t even begin to consider how much re-traumatization this child went through in this court case. The longer I think on it, the more it brings me to tears.
3. It’s okay to commit rape, but be sure to use protection.
“You showed concern and consideration by wearing a contraceptive” - Judge Arthur Myerson, praising a rapist for wearing a condom. The rapist was given a lighter sentence of 3 years.
I read this quote and truthfully vomited in my mouth.
The judge recognized that a rape had occurred. The deep violation and traumatization occurred because of the entitlement of the rapist in this case. That’s a fact.
But still, the judge goes out of his way to praise the rapist for his ‘concern’ and ‘consideration’ during the assault, because he wore a f*cking condom.
In what universe can a rapist be praised for using a condom, in the same sentence that he is being convicted for violating another human being?
Let’s just get this straight — what this imbecile judge fails to recognize because he’s so dim-witted and idiotic, is that none of the events that occurred in this case involved any concern or consideration by the rapist.
The attacker wanted something, he felt entitled to it, and despite there being a lack of consent, he decided to take it.
The use of a condom was entirely his own decision, Of him looking out for himself and himself alone. It had absolutely nothing to do with his victim.
So to take that knife that’s already in the victim and twist it even further by suggesting that her attacker was being considerate of her is beyond an unbelievable insult
What a truly dim-witted, ignorant idiot.
4. If a woman doesn’t want to consent, her body should automatically shut down and not function in its biological nature.
“If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted... the victim in this case, although she wasn’t necessarily willing, she didn’t put up a fight." - Judge Derek Johnson (2008)
I have a few words I’d love to share with Judge Derek Johnson.
And I’d love to share those words with him in the same room as all the Republican white dudes who create anti-abortion laws when they didn’t seem to have a single grasp of the female anatomy before doing so.
Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Have No Idea How Women’s Bodies Work
Simply enough, what the judge is saying here is inaccurate. It is misinformation. This is not how biology works for women’s bodies.
While many women will say that they need to be mentally invested in a sexual experience to be aroused, that is not all women. And that is not 100% of the time the case. There is almost always a biological element that comes into play that can cause someone to unintentionally be aroused when they don’t mean to be.
If Judge Derek Johnson could take his head out of his ass for even a millisecond, he would reflect on the days in his prepubescent life when he would accidentally get a boner for no reason.
He would reflect on the fact that he had no control over that, sometimes it just happened. But alas, he’s a complete moron so this is simply not possible for him to achieve.
As human beings, we can’t always control our biology. And that is unfortunately also the case when it comes to sexual assaults.
5. Why didn’t you just keep your legs shut, so that you wouldn’t get raped?
"Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?"
"Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?"
"Pain and sex sometimes go together."
- Judge Robin Camp (2016)
I think this might be the quote of all the quotes here that really upset me the most.
In fact, it actually made me really nauseous and was probably the most triggering one.
It puts the finger directly on the biggest societal issue we have when it comes to managing cases of sexual assault — we misplace blame on the victim, rather than holding the perpetrator responsible for the violation and crime they have committed.
Why is it the survivor's responsibility to avoid getting raped or attacked? We can’t control how other people act and behave in general, and yet sexual assault survivors especially seem to be held to this unrealistic and impossible standard of somehow being able to control how other people act in everyday life.
This is a narrative that just needs to f*cking stop, because there is no rationale or sense behind it.
We don’t blame victims of other crimes in the same way we do a sexual assault survivors.
When someone is mugged, we don’t ask, “Well, why didn’t you hold your purse a little tighter so that it couldn’t get stolen?”
When arson is committed against someone, we don’t ask, “Well, why didn’t you just pretend the flames weren’t there or tell them not to burn your skin when they touched you?”
The social stigma around sexual assault is so high that judges as intolerable as the one above are completely incapable of seeing rationale or reason in the arguments they’re making.
6. Suddenly, virginity doesn’t matter — but only when it’s convenient for the men involved.
“Other than the ramifications of losing her virginity, which the court does not find to be especially serious harm,” the girl “did not suffer any physical or emotional injuries.” -Judge Marcia Silva, referring to a 12 year old girl who was raped by a 16 year old boy.
This quote in particular really got to me. Because I was the victim of attempted rape by a monster who was trying to steal my virginity for himself.
Society and the patriarchy are obsessed with virginity. This is a historical and cultural fact.
And yet now, conveniently, we’re saying that actually, virginity doesn’t matter just because it’s convenient for this case?
What complete and utter bullsh*t. You can’t have it both ways.
But more importantly, consent was completely ignored and a child was violated! How is someone being violated not seen as a big deal?
And the fact that this quote comes from a female judge is even more disgusting.
It’s hard to dive into just how much a person can be damaged by their first sexual experience being an assault.
I will say this though — when I was sexually assaulted it was not my first sexual experience entirely. But that said, it was my first experience that involved the intention of intercourse. And at the time, I was waiting until I was married for intercourse.
It’s 7 years later, and my sex life with my husband is still affected by the fact that my virginity was almost stolen away from me nearly a decade ago.
To say that having one’s virginity being violated out of their body isn’t a big deal is so beyond infuriating, I can’t even put it into words.
Sure, for some people virginity doesn’t matter. I get that, that’s fine. But for other people, it really does matter. And that all falls into the fact that we have the right to own our body however which way we want, and our consent f*cking matters.
Maybe for this judge, her virginity wasn’t a big deal. But she’s a f*cking idiot if she’s incapable of seeing outside her own tiny little world to recognize that it could be a big deal to someone else, and it’s that person’s perception that matters in a case where they have been violated.
And at the end of the day, virginity or not, a child was violated. And for f*ck sake, that shouldn’t be brushed off as not a big deal.
What a shameful excuse for a human being, and an absolute embarrassment to womenkind as a whole.
7. If women didn’t dress like sluts, they wouldn’t be raped.
"Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." - Michael Sanguinetti, a police officer, not a judge (2011)
I can’t even believe that in the 2000s this was still the weak-ass argument people were trying to use. And in particular men. And I would almost bet you top dollar in particular a white man trying to use this excuse.
A privileged white dude who has never lived a day where he has not been a privileged white dude, and has never seen outside of his own teeny tiny little world realities.
So self-absorbed in himself that he is entirely incapable of seeing any other reality or argument other than his own.
And yet, this dumbass is the one who’s been put in charge of protecting and serving the public?
What a f*cking nightmare and disservice to literally 90% of the entire population of who this guy is supposed to be protecting.
First and foremost, Captain Dumbass, this statement is simply false. Entirely, completely false.
Fully dressed women, women in baggy clothing, women in full winter wear and women in burkas, are rape victims too. They too are assaulted.
Sexual assault has much less to do with clothing, and everything to do with certain people feeling entitled enough to use other people as f*ck toys.
Anyone who is convinced that clothing is the reason women are raped, I challenge you to consider this puzzle:
Why is it, then, that there aren’t high percentages of women at the beach being raped while lounging in their bikinis?
Perhaps because it has very little to do with the way that women dress, and far more to do with the entitled and disgusting acts of people who want sex and don’t care if the other person does or not.
Huh, what a concept.
The purpose of this article was not to entirely enrage you, dear reader, and then sign off with a wave.
The purpose of this article is to further highlight the impossible and unjust realities sexual assault survivors encounter when they report their assaults and try to pursue justice.
If you have ever been a person who asked, “But why didn’t she just report it when it happened?” or “Don’t you feel responsible for ensuring this monster is taken off the streets?”, hopefully, this article has been enlightening for you.
While it’s impossible to imagine what it’s like to be a survivor without actually experienced it yourself, I believe it’s possible for all of us to be empathetic enough to recognize how unpleasant, horrible and unappealing it would be to report when the justice system is already against you as a survivor.
Ultimately, the only person you can trust is yourself, and all you really want is healing and peace… and that is why so many of us (including myself) never reported our attacks.
The system is not built for survivors like me. It’s not built in our favour.
And with that in mind, I ask — why wouldn’t survivors refuse to report, when we know this is the likely reality facing us?
The only way we can ensure that more survivors report in the future is for society to stop victim-blaming and shaming, and take a survivor’s choice to step forward seriously.
Until the day that can be done, we are going to see a majority of all sexual assaults happening in the world unreported.
Believe me, the reported numbers likely don’t even scratch the surface of how many survivors are actually out there.
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