Respect Anonymity

Link to
Link to “What Happens When We Treat Anonymous Stories of Sexual Assault Like Gossip Items”

It gets under my skin when someone I do not know asks me “Well did you report?” when they hear or read that I was assaulted. I know they’re looking for a reason to doubt my story. Whether they intended to be cruel or not, it’s a form of victim blaming. Victims do not owe explanations for what they did or did not do after being assaulted.

The abuse and assaults that happened to me in my early twenties were never reported. The thought never crossed my mind. Why? Because I blamed myself. I did not even understand that what they had done was a crime. Now, my most recent assault was perpetrated by a stranger and I did report although I didn’t want to. My job title is Victim Advocate and it was STILL a very hard thing to do!

While I did report within a couple of hours had I decided not to report it would not have lessened the validity of my experience.

Respect the manner in which a survivor chooses to tell their story. Respect that it is their right to tell as little or as much as they want. Don’t ask intrusive questions: it’s none of your business whether they reported the assault or not, whether they were drinking at the time, etc. Don’t be judgmental. Don’t assume they’re looking for pity or “victim status”; take their story seriously. Don’t treat their story like a game for you to win or a puzzle for you to solve.

Their story is not an episode of Law and Order. It’s real life with real consequences and very real emotions. Respect the trauma that person has experienced and do not say or do anything that could potentially revictimize that person.

Talking about sexual assault is hard. It takes a lot of courage. Honor that courage. And honor that person’s choices. It’s their choice to report or not (reporting a crime does NOT automatically put the criminal in jail…very few assailants ever serve jail time so do not hold that over a survivor’s head). It’s their choice who they tell and when. It’s their choice to remain anonymous and/or to allow their attacker to remain anonymous.

All you need to do when you hear or read a survivor’s story is believe them. Keep your opinions to yourself.

For more information, read: 12 Ways to Support a Survivor of Abuse, Helping a Friend Through Abuse, Why Victims Don’t Report and Why Shaming Their Choice is Detrimental, What NOT to Say to Male Survivors, What to Do if Someone You Know Sexually Assaults Someone Else, When a Victim Reports: Courageous Vulnerability


6 thoughts on “Respect Anonymity

  1. Reblogged this on Picking Up the Pieces and commented:
    Too often, those who do not report their assault or abuse are criticized and face judgment and sometimes even public character assassination in addition to the additional risk posed to their safety. As though their choice means they are lying or exaggerating what happened. We all make a choice based on our lives, the circumstances we are in and would have to face either way. If you have been assaulted or abused and have chosen not to come forward and publicly make an accusation, you have nothing to feel guilty about. We are not right or wrong either way. You have to look out for your well-being first and foremost. If you feel you can handle it and you want to report it, please do so. If you feel like it’s putting you at additional risk and jeopardizing your safety, if you feel you lack support, or if you emotionally cannot endure it, you don’t have to. I’ll respect your choice either way, because it isn’t about me. It’s about you.

    Even if you do decide to share your story, you don’t have to put your name and face to it. Many survivors (and those still being abused) come forward and share their story anonymously so they can get a support group and begin healing. Just as many only choose to reveal the trauma and their vulnerability to a select few.

    Your story doesn’t matter only if your name and face are attached to it. Your story ALWAYS matters. YOU always matter. What’s best and safest for you always matters. And that’s the only thing that should be the main influence behind your choice to report or not and to share it with others or not.

  2. “Respect the trauma that person has experienced and do not say or do anything that could potentially revictimize that person.” It would be so much easier to tell who I am if people would respect the trauma. Telling my story resulted in more trauma, and I’m so afraid of it happening again. Often victims are the best ones to help those who’ve been hurt. A victim also needs to be able to tell their story to someone who won’t retraumatize them. I pray I can overcome my own fears so that I can be to others what I needed in my own trauma. You are so right…it’s not an episode of Law and Order. We are real people with real pain and we need real compassion. Thanks so much for sharing. Your heart for victims encourages me.

  3. I agree that your story matters no matter if you reported or not. I am glad you did though, for the sake of the potential next woman he might have abused/sexually assaulted. Thank you for her sake.

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