The Waiting Period

Recently people have questioned the credibility and integrity of the alleged Donald Trump assault victims.  So far sixteen women have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault.  Their cases span over a period of a decade and range from Trump deliberately walking into a women’s dressing room to him raping a young girl.  Many people claim that because the alleged victims waited for a lengthy period of time and neglected to tell the authorities immediately, their stories are not credible.  A.J. Delgado, one of Trump’s surrogates, told MSNBC reporter Chris Hayes that the allegations are completely untrue.  “These allegations are decades old.  If somebody actually did that, Chris, any reasonable woman would have come forward and said something at the time,” Delgado stated.

Any victim’s accusation is worth listening to, regardless of the situation, suspect, or time.  There will be times when the stories or accusations are proven false.  Despite this, every case is to be fairly approached with two victims in mind: the accused and the accuser.

Unfortunately, the accused is typically given more rights as well as added protection than the accuser.  The accused is guaranteed the right of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ while the accuser has no specified constitutional rights.   Marsy’s Law; however, is one of the few Acts’ dedicated to protecting the accusers and victims.  According to the Marsy’s Law, “Marsy’s Law for All seeks to amend state constitutions that don’t offer protections to crime victims, and eventually the U.S. Constitution, to give victims of crime equal rights that are already afforded to the accused and convicted.” Disappointingly, the Act has not been accepted by all 50 states and has only been made into an official law within two states: Illinois and California.

According to Lisae C. Jordan, Executive Director of The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, fear is a major factor in why victims don’t instantly report both their attack and attacker.  There have been several reported cases throughout history where victims experience severe backlash after reporting their assault.  Buzzfeed News Reporter Tyler Kingkade reports, “Three-in-five victims in a 2016 RAND survey said they experienced retaliation after reporting.”

I was very young when I was first sexually assaulted and I actually did speak up right after the incident, as I was not familiar with the physical acts that had taken place on and in my body.  As soon as I disclosed my story, I was told that I was never to allow ‘that’ to happen again. Essentially, I was led to believe that what my attackers did to me was my fault.

The second time I was sexually assaulted I never told anyone because I felt that I was in the wrong.  Deep down; however, I knew that what was happening was not acceptable as I expressed the words ‘stop’ and ‘no’ on multiple occasions.  To this day, I swear I see my attacker’s face at the bar, in traffic, or at the park. Even though my attacker is not in my life; he still has a great effect on my life.  While I don’t live my life in fear or anger any longer; I’m still terrified I’ll encounter him again.

People wonder why victims wait so long to reveal their story.  From a victim’s standpoint, I can assure you that we are not lying in wait to see when the most convenient time may be.  We do not intend to kick the offender when they’re down or join a bandwagon.  Sometimes we do not want to unveil our stories at all, but are forced to under certain circumstances.

While I wish I had a definitive answer for the reason why both women and men neglect to speak up right after an attack; I simply don’t.  It is personal for each one of us.  Claiming that our statements don’t matter or are improbable is like throwing acid in our faces.

At the end of the day, both the accuser and the accused statements need to be taken seriously and guaranteed the same rights.  While we cannot always prevent the crime, we can prevent negative backlash and guarantee a fair case.

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