I used to volunteer for an organization that worked with women who were survivors of sexual assault. One of my roles was to be with women while they were having their rape kit completed in the emergency room. The nurse and I received hours upon hours of training so we could best support the survivor, and so the nurse could collect evidence of this horrific crime.
It’s a long grueling exam that I won’t cover here, but if you don’t know what it entails — Google it.
Being with these survivors was an unparalleled experience. I still think about them years later. The one question that replays in my mind over and over again is, “why didn’t people believe them?”
Whether it was by family or friends, law enforcement, or the general community. These women had survived this despicable and traumatic act and people didn’t believe it had happened to them.
We saw it again high profile men —from elected officials to Hollywood actors and executives. The men are believed, the women are dismissed — told they misunderstood the situation or are pegged as trying to gain something.
Why don’t we believe women when they come forward and say they were raped?
I’m reminded of this again now as we see people of color coming forward to share their experiences with racism. A coworker, a classmate, a Hawkeye football player, First Lady Michelle Obama. It doesn’t seem to matter who you are or how high up your status is.
Looking at comments on social media, watching the news, talking to friends — you hear it again and again. They are liars, they misunderstood, they are trying to gain something.
Why don’t we believe them? And why do we make excuses for the offenders?
I see videos of cops murdering black men and I hear, “they shouldn’t have resisted arrest, they shouldn’t have broken the law. Not all cops are bad.” …Or … “she was drunk, she was probably embarrassed about it — but actually said yes.”
No. Men should not rape. Cops should not kill.
Why don’t we believe sexual assault victims? Why don’t we believe people of color?
I don’t know why, but I do know that I believe them.
If you share your stories with me, with the world, I will believe you. I stand with you. I will fight with you. I will teach my children to do the same. As a mom, this is how I will help change the world.