It seems as though whenever women come forward to confront men of substantial power in any way, the timeliness of the report is more concerning to the public than the actions of the man. This is particularly true when it comes to accusations of sexual assault. The public demands to the know why victims don’t come forward sooner. Most recently in the case of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she accused recently seated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in September. Similar accusations have taken place with in other cases throughout the past year. Examples of these include the survivors of Bill Cosby’s attacks having waited decades before they came forward, or pop-star Ke$ha waiting years to come forward with her accusations of sexual assault against former SONY producer Dr. Luke.
America seems to be demanding an answer to this question and the answer lies within the subset of Americans who are demanding a “perfect victim.”
According to the Huffington Post, “[Coming forward] means being picked apart, as people try to find just how ‘perfect’ a victim you are. It means dealing with law enforcement officials and members of a jury who have been socialized to believe myths about rape.”
One myth contrived by society is that every survivor processes their trauma the same way, and therefore processes their rape within the same amount of time as every other survivor of sexual assault. Another myth is that rape and assault have to be overcome only once. In fact, survivors often have to put out several flames ignited by an attack.
Not only does a survivor have to survive the attack, but they then have to admit and accept that it happened and talk to an outside party about it. Not to mention the fact that they have to deal with the aftermath a survivor often faces after coming forward with accusations.
A Huffington Post Deputy editor, Nina Bahadur, says that “someone’s reaction following an assault should not be used as “proof” as to whether or not an assault has taken place.”
In order to make progress, we must question why society expects women to come forward immediately following an assault if they already have so much to deal with as a result of the assault. The answer is often made more complicated, but is simple. Fewer and fewer women are coming forward because for years society has demanded perfect victims for the most imperfect and violating of crimes.