I’ve heard it said that the definition of courage is “doing what you know is right even when you are afraid.” There are the obvious examples of people who display courage every day - soldiers, police officers, firemen, rescue workers, etc. But there is another group of people who display a very different type of courage and those are the women who come forward to report being victims of sexual assault. Statistics show that the majority of rape cases involve attackers that the victim either knows or has just met (often referred to as “date rape” or “acquaintance rape”). The numbers of surprise attacks known as “stranger rape”(what Catherine endures in A Soul Less Broken) are significantly lower.
Unfortunately, the statistics also show that in many cases, the women who have been victims of acquaintance rape have impaired judgment at the time of the attack, either from the attacker slipping drugs into their drinks or simply because they have consumed excessive alcohol on their own (which is a different topic for a different post on a different day). Either way, the attacker takes full advantage of the woman’s extreme vulnerability. In these situations, the women often feel ashamed, and reporting the attack becomes very humiliating. The legal tactic for the defense team is to attack the woman’s character, life-style, and morals. So as if being raped by someone she knows and then reporting it wasn’t humiliating enough, the woman now feels as though she is suddenly the one on trial. And yet, every day across America these women are coming forward and reporting the crimes against them, fully prepared to push through their fears and endure the almost certain humiliation that awaits them. We rarely hear about these courageous women in the news, they are seldom praised for their bravery. But in almost every case, even though the women want justice for themselves, ultimately what drives them to come forward is that they want to prevent their attacker from ever victimizing any one else. They do what they know is right, even when they are afraid. We should all be inspired by the courage it takes for these women to come forward.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and haven’t yet reported it, please let these women inspire you. And if you, or someone you know needs help please use the RAINN resources found here.