Last week, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport was trending on Twitter, so women could share their stories of assault that happened years ago and went unreported, for various reasons…
The theory is that women generally don’t feel safe enough to seek help from the police or other authorities because they’re worried “The Patriarchy” will protect men by brushing off the female victims.
Thus, another popular hashtag cropped up recently, urging society to #BelieveHer.
In watching these Twitter campaigns unfold, I was angry at first… then I was sad… then I was conflicted…
And now I feel angry/sad/conflicted all over again, knowing how odd it sounds to a new reader that a movement meant for empowering women could make me–a woman–feel such negative emotions.
But I decided this morning that sharing my own reasons for not reporting might go a long way in clearing up a few things.
Here is Why I Didn’t Report:
#1. I was too young to realize it wasn’t normal. Even now, as an adult, it feels awkward using the word “abuse” without adding qualifiers, such as “It could have been worse.” For years, I assumed EVERYONE was abused like me.
#2. I depended on my abuser for care, and my abuser wasn’t bad ALL the time. Therefore, since the damaging memories were mixed with very good ones, I was torn… and I still am.
#3. I was taught Christians must forgive those who hurt them. (I know I’m not the only one who has wrestled with the line between forgiveness and enabling future abuse. So my heart goes out to anyone in this boat–struggling between grace and justice! It’s hard!)
But here’s the most important reason, and it’s why I STILL Haven’t reported:
#4. My abuser was a woman, and society doesn’t know how to handle stories about Female Monsters.
I understand why certain people fear The Patriarchy–Really, I do.
Feminists are afraid of the old Patriarchy for the exact same reason I am afraid of the Matriarchy they’ve built to replace it.
They don’t want men to have “too much” power, because they’ve seen, first hand, what horrible injustices can be committed by men.
I don’t want women to have “too much” power because of the same first-hand experiences with aggressive females.
It was a woman who made me doubt my self worth. It was a woman who taught me to walk on eggshells in order to placate an unpredictable temper. It was a woman who filled my mind with warnings of “you’re lucky to have me” and “you won’t survive without me” and “they’ll never believe you.”
And, after all these years, I still wonder if she’s right…
If I sought help, would she be held accountable (to the same standard as an abusive man) and encouraged to do the hard work of rehabilitation? Or would she be given an excuse, such as “She’s in pain, too” or “Nobody Is Perfect”?
Would I be encouraged for the healing I’ve achieved, despite the lack of remorse all of these years–or would I be dismissed because my abuser cries more easily than I, and because she has more practice manipulating The System?
When the time comes that men are viewed as default aggressors–and all women are assumed trustworthy–will you believe me?
Or will you #BelieveHer?
Addendum: I wanted to add a few links as examples of things that have angered/scared/saddened me lately. Perhaps it goes without say that the unfounded accusations against Judge Kavanaugh have been pretty upsetting. I see my abuser in women like Dr. Ford, who rewrite history and then genuinely believe their own lies. I see my abuser in girls who make up stories about sexual abuse for the attention. I see my abuser in women who are presented with DNA evidence that they’re wrong, and still won’t accept responsibility. (Go ahead and click that last one. Loretta and Dean appeared on the Dr. Phil show after Dean was cleared of all charges, yet Loretta STILL believes he’s guilty.)
I know what happens when we try to bring up these examples to Feminists. We’re told cases of lying females are “rare” and that they only muddy the waters in the conversation about justice.
So, again, THAT’S why I’m reluctant to report…