‘5 (Misguided) Reasons People Doubt Sexual Misconduct Victims’

Shaila Dewan writes She Didn’t Fight Back: 5 (Misguided) Reasons People Doubt Sexual Misconduct Victims:

She took decades to come forward. She can’t remember exactly what happened. She sent friendly text messages to the same man she says assaulted her. She didn’t fight back.

There are all sorts of reasons women who report sexual misconduct, from unwanted advances by their bosses to groping or forced sex acts, are not believed, and with a steady drumbeat of new reports making headlines, the country is hearing a lot of them.

But some of the most commonly raised causes for doubt, like a long delay in reporting or a foggy recall of events, are the very hallmarks that experts say they would expect to see after a sexual assault.

“There’s something really unique about sexual assault in the way we think about it, which is pretty upside down from the way it actually operates,” said Kimberly A. Lonsway, a psychologist who conducts law enforcement training on sexual assault as the research director of End Violence Against Women International. “In so many instances when there’s something that is characteristic of assault, it causes us to doubt it”….

Dewan lists (in detail with explanations in her article) these five misguided bases of doubt: “The victim doesn’t act like one….She stayed friendly with her abuser….She did not come forward right away….Her story does not add up….She didn’t fight back.”

See also Three ‘Things That Make Organizations More Prone to Sexual Harassment.’