CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of sexual assault and rape.
These past few weeks have been tough to watch.
On Sept. 27, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford gave a testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whom she says sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
Since Prof. Blasey Ford spoke out, three more women have made similar reports against Kavanaugh, who, by the time this piece is published, may be elected as a sitting Judge on the Supreme Court of the United States.
As of Friday, Sept. 28, Kavanaugh’s election has been halted and the matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who have only one week and a limited number of resources to conduct the investigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee, however, hopes the investigation will come to a close sooner.
It may be hard to think about how politics in the U.S. affect us here in Canada, but it’s not hard to understand that if Kavanaugh is elected as a member of the Supreme Court, survivors everywhere are being told that their stories don’t matter.
Out of every 1,000 instances of reported rape, 994 rapists walk free, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and Bureau of Justice Statistics. Only one out of every three instances of rape are reported, and only two to 10 per cent of reported rapes are false reports.
Let’s bring it closer to home. In 2017, it was reported by the Globe and Mail’s Unfounded investigation that police in Hamilton and Halton dismissed 30 per cent of sex assault claims over a five-year period as “unfounded,” a far larger statistic than the national average of 19 per cent.
An “unfounded” report indicates the investigating officer does not believe a crime was attempted or happened. Once an allegation is categorized as unfounded, it effectively disappears from public record.
In a world whereby an old boys’ club is in charge of what happens to abusers, a world whereby survivors who speak out are harassed, not believed or threatened, it’s no question as to why survivors take their time in reporting instances of assault. It’s also no question as to why survivors don’t report their assault at all.
If we really do condemn the actions of abusers, let’s see it. If we really do want to create a space where survivors feel comfortable reporting their assault, let’s do it.
If we really do believe survivors, let’s believe survivors.