Society is discovering the magnitude of incidents of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse. It is so common that statistics now state that one in three women will become victims at some point in their lives. This does not take into account the many victims who never report the crime perpetrated against them.
Sexual assault is such a personal violation that survival instincts automatically respond to the trauma by shutting down. Victims instinctively stay quiet with fear that the stigma associated with being raped will be unbearable. Self-protection is the goal.
In my personal experience as the victim of the worst case of sexual assault in Detroit history, and as an advocate who has heard thousands of stories from other victims, I can confidently state that there is something worse than rape: keeping silent about it.
It is a fact that victims who never acknowledge the crime perpetrated against them, suffer for a lifetime. Anger, fear and insecurity dominate their psyche and peace is an unattainable dream. With time, the symptoms of PTSD surface with anxiety and depression becoming dominant emotions in the victim.
The only road to freedom is to talk about it. Whether a victim talks to a therapist, a doctor or a family member is irrelevant. The act of purging is an important step to healing.
I strongly believe that reporting a rape to the police is an act that will accelerate the healing process. Regardless of when the crime took place, report it. A rapist is known to repeat his actions especially if he got away with it the first time. Even if you were assaulted ten years ago and it is too late to bring action against the rapist, the act of reporting it offers the victim validation.
By way of my victim advocacy program, I have learned that the biggest regret that consumes the victim is: not reporting the rape. I have personally made the commitment to stand up and speak out about sexual assault and to use my voice for the greater good. You can too.