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.
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.
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.
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.
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.