The Problem With Asking: 'Why Didn't She Report It To The Police?'

Trigger warning: This article discusses rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse.

The way we, as a society, respond to allegations of sexual abuse and violence is a topic which is under particular scrutiny right now.

It comes after The Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4′s Dispatches revealed four women alleged comedian and YouTuber Russell Brand abused them between 2006 and 2013.

Brand has denied any criminality, and said all of his relationships have been consensual. The police have not said they are opening a criminal investigation into the claims and no arrests have been reported.

But, the story has led to a wider conversation about the common misconceptions which emerge when survivors of abuse do come forward – whether anonymously or publicly.

So, a charity which aims to help survivors of sexual violence and abuse, Rape Crisis, shared a thread on X (formerly Twitter), debunking some of the misconceptions around the sensitive, yet disturbingly common, issue.

As the charity pointed out, one in four women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult. For men, it is one in 18. Meanwhile, one in six children have been sexually abused.

Rape Crisis also highlighted one of the common queries when it comes to reports around sexual abuse.

The charity posted on X: “When people ask ‘why didn’t she report to the police?’, we would point them to the fact that the vast majority of victims and survivors who do report, will not receive criminal justice.”

It pointed out that 67,169 rapes were recorded by the police in 2022 – but fewer than two in 100 (1.9%) of the rapes recorded in the same year led to a charge.

Additionally, five in six women – and four in five men – who are raped don’t report it to the police, with many telling someone else what happened instead.

Of those who refuse to report it, the charity claimed 40% said embarrassment stopped them; 38% said they thought police couldn’t help; and 34% said they thought it would be humiliating.

Rape Crisis explained on its website: “For many people, experiencing rape or another form of sexual violence or abuse can be a very difficult thing to talk about – and it might be a long time before they feel able to.

“This can be for lots of different reasons. They might feel like they’ll be judged or blamed or not believed. Or they might be scared of their perpetrator or another person finding out.”

The charity also debunked the myth that “women lie about being raped because they want attention or revenge – or regret having had sex with someone”, noting “false allegations of rape are extremely rare”.

The charity then tackled the myth that people who have suffered from sexual assault always behave a certain way afterwards, by pointing out “everybody responds differently”.

It explained: “It’s very common for people to feel numb after a traumatic event like rape or sexual assault. And some people don’t feel the effects of trauma until a long time after it has happened.”

On Monday night, Sky News Sophy Ridge also released her own take on why some allegations of assault do not surface until years later.

She said: “I totally understand why you might not want to go to the police if you were raped or sexually assaulted by a famous or powerful man.

“If you decide to go to the police, then what happens? An intimate and physical examination, after you’ve just been assaulted?

“And then the questions start – what’s your proof? Did you give him the come-on? Did you have sex with him before? Are you a believable witness? Will you cry on the stand?”

The one-and-a-half minute clip Ridge shared of her speech was widely reposted on X, and viewed more than 420,000 in less than 24 hours.

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