The following essay I wrote in response to the question of why some victims of violent crimes – especially rape don’t come forward. I hope this helps in the better understanding of victims’ mind sets and challenges.
Getting help becomes a full time job in itself. It takes a considerable amount of time to do research. Finding the right help is paramount. Weeding through doctors, lawyers, clinics, hospitals, websites, referrals, references, emails, phone calls and the police is time consuming and at times frustrating.
Police – over worked, desensitized, might not complete paperwork or conduct proper or thorough investigations. Majority of police are men, and if the victim is a woman there might be power games being played such as the victim being made to feel they are overly emotional and that they should trust the police officer to do their job with no questions asked.
Victim may feel isolated and that they have no one to talk to. They also may feel pressure from family members, loved ones , friends or co-workers not to come forward, to let the abuse go, or to not go to the authorities. They also may be threaten, intimidated and bullied not to come forward by the assailant(s), attorneys and others in their immediate circle and beyond in social media. Victims also have to contend with people saying it was their fault or that they are lying or it is all in their head – “That they are crazy!”
Shame is a big problem. Talking about the crime can produce ridicule, self doubt and feelings of low self esteem. Repeating details of the crime or incident to doctors, police officers, lawyers, family and employer may cause further feelings of depression and shame.
Feeling violated again when the details of the crime become public record.
Women tend to be conditioned to not want to cause waves, to give others multiple chances, to take care of others more than they take care of their own needs.
Losing time from work pursuing justice or getting help might not be a viable option for some. Others may not have access to adequate health care or day care.
Getting help is expensive. Paying for transportation to go to appointments, to meet with police, to pay for additional expenses as a result of the crime can be daunting. If a survivor of violence is living pay check to pay check or doesn’t have a source of their own income, leaving or getting professional help may not be an immediate, cost effective or a realistic option.
The mental pain as well as the physical pain may take months, years or a lifetime to manage.
And what I found out in my own case that gave me a greater understanding of why so many women in the Bill Cosby case didn’t or waited years to tell their stories is: just because one is a victim in a violent crime, there is no guarantee that you will be believed or helped by attorneys who want to make money. All victims of violent crimes are not a slam dunk in the money department and many lawyers don’t want to rock the boat by going up against a “Celebrity” with corporate connections and a fat wallet.
It is the victim’s ultimate choice to come forward and roll the dice or not. There are no guarantees that justice will win but by telling the truth, providing evidence and healing, one may turn from a victim to a survivor to a Thriver thus educating others while repairing one’s self.