When over 50 women came out and made sexual assault accusations against comedian Bill Cosby at the end of 2014 and in 2015, social media became a hot bed to decry and dismiss them. The accusers were portrayed as gold-diggers and liars, and Cosby's comedic legacy became more valuable than the dignity of the women he allegedly violated.

The same goes for more low-profile sexual assault survivors, every day women violated by everyday men. When these survivors come forward, they are often met with skepticism as detractors attempt to poke holes in their stories and their credibility. Whether it's Jackie the subject of a controversial Rolling Stone story — Kesha, or a girl down the street, it's vital to offer support to sexual assault survivors instead of condemning them.

Here are five reasons why:

They aren't lying.

photo: Giphy

Survivors are often met with the "she's lying" or "she wants revenge" line, even though this stereotype couldn't be further from the truth. The FBI reports that only between 2% and 8% of all reported rape allegations aren't true. Given that a person is assaulted every 107 seconds, these numbers are too small to discount a survivor's story.


Belief makes it easier to come forward.

photo: Playbuzz

Many sexual assault survivors never come forward, and that has a lot to do with how they're treated when they do. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) found that though there are 293,000 sexual assault victims every year, 68% of those victims will never come forward and 98% of their attackers will never spend time in jail for the crime.

"There are a lot of survivors out there that would be willing to report and come forward if they knew they would have a reasonable chance of getting justice," Scott Berkowitz, the president of RAINN, told me in January.

Want more survivors to get justice? Start believing them.

Revealing a sexual assault is traumatizing enough.

photo: Tumblr

It is incredibly difficult for a survivor to tell a police officer, friend, or family member that they've been assaulted. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs finds that 94 out of every 100 sexual assault survivors are battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and one in three will attempt suicide.

As our own Revelist entertainment intern Liz McConnell wrote of her own sexual assault: "The hurt I felt, coupled with the humiliation brought on by their words, temporarily silenced me."

Given the emotional and mental toll that rape and sexual assault has on survivors, it is incredibly cruel to pile on with doubts about honesty.

It is never a victim's fault.

It doesn't matter what a victim wore, who she was with, or what she drank. Stopping rape requires us to stop rapists, not question the victim about how she contributed to her violation. Victims aren't responsible for mitigating their assailants violent behavior, and suggesting that makes victims relieve the trauma over and over again.


It helps put serial rapists away.

Bill Cosby's been accused of raping over 50 women. How many women could've been spared the violation if he'd been arrested and convicted 20 years ago? That's what at stake when society blames victims instead of condemning rapists. A 2002 study from University of Massachusetts-Boston found that 90% of campus rapes are committed by serial rapists.

Focusing on the victims instead of the perpetrators gives them space to rape time and time again without consequence. That's unacceptable.

Main Image: Flickr/Garry Knight