October 2018 Blog- Truth Does Matter
Earlier this month, we witnessed the intense and passionate testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court hearings. The message this event relays to us once again is that women have been taken advantage of, oppressed, and abused by men for years, often men in positions of power and authority. In this case, the allegations are of a sexual nature, leading many to question why Dr. Ford had only now come forward to tell her story. By now, it is hoped that everyone understands that this is more often the typical response from a sexual assault survivor, rather than the exception. We know that victims of sexual assault often do not report their sexual assault due to the fear of not being believed. Victims also have the tendency to blame themselves or to feel guilty or responsible for their assault. Regardless of the circumstances, the victim is never to blame in these situations.
One positive result from these hearings is that many women (and men) have begun to speak up which in combination with the #MeToo movement that erupted last year, have created a wellspring of open discussion that will likely only help women to feel free to speak their truth. It will hopefully encourage women to feel safer to know that they will be believed and to know that the changes in societal perceptions will not necessarily occur quickly but will (and are) shift in the direction of believing the victim.
Some interesting statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC):
1.) 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual violence contact at some point in their lives.
2.) Only 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the authorities.
3.) 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
4.) False reporting of sexual assault is low, 2%-10%.
While it is disheartening to know that a second man accused of inappropriate sexual behavior has now been confirmed to rule on the highest court in the land, this should not deter women from speaking up, being brave, and finding their voice to say, “no more”. It may be yars before the benefit of Dr. Ford’s courageous testimony trickles down to the result of women being believed, but women will continue to tell their stories, to some out from the shadows, and to sepak of their victimization openly. All women need to know, “you are free to speak” and you will be believed.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual assault or abuse, find help for yourself by contacting our local Victim Service center at (407)-500-HEAL. You can also call the Orange County #: (407)-254-9415, the Osceola County #: (407)-483-7386 or Seminole County #: (321)-972-4465. There are local resources that offer free or low cost therapy through the University of Central Florida’s Marriage and Family Research Institute at (407)-823-1748. My office and that of my colleague, Mary Beth Griffis, LMHC also offer psychotherapy services for victims of sexual assault. Feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation.
Linda Cook, LMHC