One needs only to look at the countless stories that came out of the #MeToo movement to know the response to sexual assault has, traditionally, been geared towards protecting the abusers.
For example, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of an attempted rape, allegedly at the hands of United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was met with disbelief – and worse.
Fewer than 24 hours after Ford’s name was made public, her address and phone numbers were published for the sole purpose of facilitating harassment. And within 36 hours, according to her lawyers, she’d received death threats and was forced to relocate from her home.
According to the Assaulted Women’s Hotline, in one year in Canada, 427,000 women over the age of 15 will report they had been sexually assaulted. Since only about 10 per cent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police, the actual number is much higher.
Data released by Statistics Canada in 2017 indicated just 12 per cent of reported incidences lead to criminal convictions – charges aren’t even laid in more than half of these cases. And while false accusations only account for between two to four per cent of all reported sexual assaults, police dismiss, on average, one out of every five complaints as unfounded. That’s 20 per cent of reported sexual assaults, completely ignored.That is why campaigns like #IBelieveYou and services like One Line for Sexual Violence are so important. It’s time we start doing more to support survivors and not forcing them to hide.