Last week, I was interviewed by a local news station about sexual assault and the lack of reporting. I was interviewed because of my own experience having been sexually assaulted (a few different times), and not having reported any of them. I think it's great that local news is investigating this, and thus, bringing more awareness to the rape culture we live in, however, I think they're asking the wrong questions.
The reporting or lack of reporting of sexual violence is not of interest to me. It's worth noting, of course, but how much more can we really delve into this? I'm more interested in making sure survivors know they have choices after an assault. I'm more interested in letting survivors choose their own path to healing.
Reporting is low because survivors know we won't be believed (especially if we weren't the "ideal" victim). Alcohol was involved in my first rape, and weed was involved with my second. Reporting is also low because police and other law enforcement have demonstrated time and again that they, frankly, don't give a shit.
What needs to change isn't survivor's reporting of their rape--what needs to change is our culture that tells men it's okay to rape. How do you change a culture that has been raping women for centuries? I'm overwhelmed just typing that question.
Now, before anyone gets huffy... if a survivor wants to report an assault, then I say, "GO FOR IT!" However, I reject the dichotomy our society has created between those who report to police being good survivors, and those who do not report to the police being bad survivors.
As a community, we need to be asking different questions. Let's ask why men rape. Let's delve into that some more. Let's ask survivors how best we can support them (because they know best, after all). I support survivors who choose to report, and I support survivors who choose not to report.
Let's make it so there isn't even a need to report these heinous crimes.