With the advent of the #MeToo movement, more and more women are feeling empowered to come forward with sexual assault and rape allegations.
The movement actually started in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke. However, it really took traction last year when actress Alyssa Milano used it in a tweet urging women to come forward with their stories, propelling the hashtag #metoo.
Rachel E. Morgan and Grace Kena from the Bureau of Justice Statistics claimed in their last criminal victimization report that only 23 percent of rape and sexual assault cases were reported in 2016. Morgan and Kena also outlined some of the reasons that victims did not report, including “fearing reprisal or getting the offender in trouble, presuming the crime was too personal or trivial to report, or believing that police would not or could not help.”
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a nonprofit organization that deals with sexual assault, only 310 of every 1,000 rapes are reported to police. Of those reported, only 57 lead to an arrest. Of that, only six perpetrators end up incarcerated.
You may be wondering about the rate of false sexual assault allegations. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center found variance in data from multiple sources, stating the number is likely between 2 and 10 percent. We could use the mean of the two numbers to reach a conclusion that six in every 100 accusations being untrue. With either number, the odds of the allegations being false are extremely low and are greatly outnumbered by the amount of actual sexual violence.
With this information, lets turn to our country’s most recent sexual assault scandal: Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. He is being nominated amidst allegations that he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford 36 years ago. The recent hearing has concluded, giving the FBI one week to investigate all “current credible allegations,” which will likely include the two other women have also stepped forward with accusations, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick.
Let’s go back for a minute. Dr. Ford initially made the accusation anonymously. You may wonder why she did this, knowing that anonymity is potentially damaging to the credibility of the accusation.She stated in her opening statement of the Senate, “My hope was that providing the information confidentially would be sufficient to allow the Senate to consider Mr. Kavanaugh’s serious misconduct without having to make myself, my family, or anyone’s family vulnerable to the personal attacks and invasions of privacy we have faced since my name became public.”
She wanted to avoid the death threats, slut-shaming, invasion of privacy and the potential to destroy her career. Ultimately, she could not avoid this. She and her family have had to move and have security guarding them 24/7. Her private email accounts have been hacked, spreading her personal information.
She’s been accused of making an “eleventh hour” accusation to stop Kavanaugh from reaching the bench. Additionally, many people are accusing her of being a political pawn from the Democrats, who have opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination from the start. They want to know why she didn’t report the assault when it happened.
For those asking “why now?” she answers, “My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”
All of the pushback that she has gotten only reinforces why women do not come forward. Now that the hearing has passed, she has laid bare her story to the whole world. What is decided here may rock the foundation of our country, but also potentially further silence those who do experience sexual assault. Survivors may be led to think “ If Dr Ford’s story isn’t taken seriously, why would mine?” The Kavanaugh case could impact a generation of women more than we initially thought.
The question that people want to know is “did he do it?” Kavanaugh is from a privileged background, one with money and power. Men like him have been able to intimidate and silence people throughout history. Women have become more and more outspoken in recent years in regard to sexual assault, as well as verbal and physical abuse.
Men are being held more and more accountable for their actions because of brave women like Dr. Ford. Not only do I believe Ford is indeed a victim, I don’t think she’s the only one. Those who are not held accountable for their actions don’t just stop doing things that are wrong. They do it over, and over and over again until they are caught.
I believe Dr Ford and that will not change no matter what our corrupt government decides to do. I want to be optimistic and believe in the moral and ethical sensibilities that our government officials are supposed to have but I have my doubts.