Share Your Story (It’s confidential)
The benefits of sharing our stories with discernment.
Often we carry the burden of what happened alone. Only 23% of incidents are even reported. There is good reason for this. Our culture chooses to believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Logically, that means that those who report such incidents are assumed to be lying until they prove their experience to be true. Research shows that 2% to 8% of sexual misconduct reports are untrue.
Given that so many incidents of sexual violence are private, they are dismissed as “he said she said,” because there are no witnesses to overcome the legal burden placed on the individual who experienced the unwanted sexual attention or violence. Many of us ask ourselves, “Why bother to report an incident if people will assume we’re liars and add insult to injury?”
Blaming the Victim…
Humans tend to “blame the victim” because it makes them feel safer to do so. If I simply deny that we have a sexual predator in our midst, then I don’t have to worry about it. If I’m an HR administrator, I may have a conflicting agenda to protect the company image (job security) as well as avoid a lawsuit from the offender who claims to be wrongfully accused. In some cases, I may have faced the same abuse, stayed quiet to keep my job, and now feel it is only fair for the newbies to endure the same.
80% of sex offenders know their victims.
Many reporters of sexual misconduct risk losing their home, their livelihood, their families, and future retaliation by the offender.
Some of us fear that if the men who consider themselves our protectors (fathers, brothers and partners) find out, they may take matters into their own hands, escalate the violence, and end up in jail instead of the offender.
When our trusted relationships have been betrayed and our bodies trespassed, what we want most is to restore our sense of safety.
To speak up and tell the truth, a truth no one may want to hear, takes a great deal of courage and often feels less safe.
What if we tell someone who is unable to hear the truth, someone who assumes we are lying, and threatens us further? That just makes matters worse, and we may never have the courage to speak of it again. It’s critical that we choose wisely when and where we share our story.
“When our trusted relationships have been betrayed and our bodies trespassed, what we want most is to restore our sense of safety.”
We applaud the #MeToo movement for breaking the silence, but sharing our stories on public social media spaces left many of us unprepared for the barrage of negative comments, disbelief, victim blaming, and potential threats that followed.
Most Americans are untrained to overcome their own biases when listening to a story of sexual harassment or violence, making the matter worse because they often “blame the victim.” Psychologically, a listener may feel safer if they deny the event or distance themselves from the person who experienced the violent incident.
What most of us don’t understand about sexual predators is that we are usually not the only one. Often, it takes the compromised safety of others to push us to take the risk of breaking our silence because there is often a price to pay. Our trained staff will receive your story as it deserves to be heard and believed.
When choosing with whom you want to share your story, consider the following questions:
- Is the person a “mandatory reporter,” who by law must report your story to the authorities whether you consent or not. Certain individuals (teachers, counselors, health care professionals) for example, are often required to report abuse of individuals under the age of 18 to child-protection authorities.
- Is the person able to maintain confidences if you prefer to keep the story quiet? Have they proven trustworthy in the past?
- Is the person prepared to receive your story with the respect that it deserves. Have them watch the training videos first (click here—COMING SOON!). Consider your timing and the listener’s ability to focus in a quiet uninterrupted space. Do not share your story with a listener who is driving a car, for example. You deserve to be the focus of their attention.
- Does the person have a conflicting agenda? If so, find someone who is 100% supportive first, and only share your story with others when you feel more confident.
- Consider all the potential consequences of sharing your story with a particular person.
- Consider that the person could be called to testify against you in a court of law unless they are your therapist (and you are an adult) or they are your legal attorney.
* The attorney-client privilege means whatever you share with your lawyer in confidence cannot be used against you in a court of law. In contrast, others (family, friends, etc.) can be called as witnesses in court and forced to testify about your conversations and behaviors.
If you want your story to be part of our private and confidential database, you will need to become our legal “client” for this limited purpose. This service is complimentary and you will not be charged a fee. The information you provide will help us identify repeat offenders more quickly, and we hope to be able to connect you to more specific resources in your area.
Feeling ready? Click below to: