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  • Gracie Williams

Why Women Don't Speak Up

Updated: Nov 4, 2022


Why do we silence ourselves when we are the victims?

Is it because we feel we deserved it?

Is it because we don’t trust the justice system?

Is it because our culture silences us?

Is it because no one will believe us?

Is it because silence is “easier”?

To answer all of these questions… yes.

As you can see, there are so many reasons why women do not speak up as sexual trauma victims.

To put it into context...

97% of women have been sexually assaulted or raped, yet only 1% report it.

Is it because we feel we deserved it?

Unfortunately, society is often so quick to blame women when they speak up about their sexual trauma. They are told, “Well, maybe if you weren’t showing too much cleavage it wouldn’t have happened”, and “well, look at what you’re wearing… you were asking for it.”

We are told that we are “asking for it” because of the clothes we wear or the amount of make-up we wear, to the point where we believe that maybe we were asking for it and therefore deserved what happened to us, so we stay silent.

In a matter of fact, women and young girls are sexually assaulted or raped whether they are wearing a dress that’s “too short”, no make-up, pyjamas, or dressed head to toe with nothing on show. No matter how a person dresses, it is not a symbol of consent.

Is it because we don’t trust the justice system?

Sarah Everard: a nationally known name, and one of many women who have been sexually assaulted, raped, and/or murdered by police officers.

How can we trust the people who are supposed to protect us when so many fail to protect us?

Likewise, despite the high rates of rape and an increase in reporting in recent years, charging and conviction rates remain amongst the lowest since records began.

So, even when the perpetrator is not the police officer, many women become a victim of the police when they are not provided the justice they deserve.

Is it because our culture silences us?

We live in a culture of normalising silence, it is often unacceptable to speak about sex and becomes a taboo topic, therefore sexual trauma is hidden, ignored, silenced, or even in some cultures women may not even realise they have faced sexual trauma because it is so deeply hidden from them and they are taught that there is no such thing as “Rape” or “sexual assault”, it is simply just “sex”.

In other cultures, sex is not a taboo and is discussed openly, however sexual trauma is often trivialised, making victims be seen as “frigid”, “pathetic”, and the butt of the “joke”.

What is unacceptable is ignored, what is ignored is tolerated, and what is tolerated is normalised.

Is it because no one will believe us?

We live in a society where men are, still, seen as superior to women, despite generations of fighting for equality. Therefore, it is easy to see men as figures of trust and protection. So, when a woman reports rape by a male perpetrator, many people are quick to believe that the woman is lying, because why would a protector do such a thing?

1 in 2 rapes against women are carried out by their partner or ex-partner, which, in many cases, makes it easier to call rape “just bad sex” and are told that because they are romantically involved it cannot be rape it must be consensual sex. When in fact rape is rape, whether the perpetrator is a partner or not.

We have seen time and time again, women being portrayed as liars after reporting rape, which makes it “easier” to stay silent because we believe that they won’t believe us.

Is it because staying silent is “easier”?

It can often feel that it is easier to just stay silent, to hold the pain and the trauma inside rather than reporting the rape and/or assault. However, all of that pain and trauma will feed on you and ultimately can be extremely damaging.

The more that we speak up and the more that movements such as #MeToo are created, the higher the chance of being provided justice.

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