1. “I’m not like him/her.”
We know, or at least we think we know. If we thought you were, you wouldn’t be having the opportunity to tell us you aren’t. However, there is always a part of us wondering if you are like them, if you’re exactly like the predator that transformed us into what the rest of society deems as “victims”. If you’re really not like them, don’t say you’re not, show us you’re not.
2. “It isn’t fair that what they did reflects how you treat me.”
We’re working on it. Don’t take a negative approach whenever we have our guards up. A little reassurance goes a long way.
3. “What were the circumstances?”
It doesn’t matter. A man/woman could walk into an enormous crowd of people completely intoxicated and naked, and if they say “no”, that’s the bottom line. In fact, unless you hear a clear and confirmed “yes”, just assume it’s a “no”. It doesn’t matter how much we had to drink or if our clothes were what some consider to be “too revealing”; nothing is an invitation of sexual conduct without consent. There is and never will be a case of any kind of sexual crime where the “victim” deserved to be preyed upon as a result of any sort of circumstance.
4. “Why didn’t you report it?”
We were/are scared. Fear of the unknown is perhaps the most terrifying emotion to experience. If we knew that when we reported that the predator couldn’t reach us (instead of serving only 3 months of a 6 month sentence for raping a nearly unconscious girl behind a dumpster and being called a “swimmer” instead of a “rapist”), if we knew for a fact that we weren’t going to be viewed as liars until proven otherwise, we would probably come forward more often. We are afraid of how society and our loved ones would react. We are afraid because our abusers are family members, bosses, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives… Some of us are ashamed even though we have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Some of us can’t remember what happened because we weren’t conscious or had such a traumatic experience that our brains shutdown and we blacked out through the entire ordeal, but we know that something happened. Some of us simply don’t think we can relive that pain by telling our story, and none of us want to be put on the defensive by answering questions that makes us seem like the predators and give our attackers/abusers excuses.
5. “Why are you just now reporting after all this time?”
Maybe someone else had the courage to come forward and now we don’t feel so alone. Maybe now we are out from under the position of power our predators once had over us. Maybe we realized that if we don’t, we are putting other vulnerable people like us in danger. There are thousands of “maybes”, but if we don’t voluntarily share that information with you, it’s none of your damn business.
6. “You need to forgive and forget.”
Not all of us will forgive, and that’s perfectly understandable and okay. When/if we decide to forgive, it won’t be because anyone else told us to, it will be because we are sick and tired of our predators having continuous psychological power over us. It’s possible that we already have forgiven, but haven’t vocalized it because forgiveness is entirely internal. The only reason we forgive is for our own sake. Even if we have forgiven them, most of us are still trying to forgive ourselves, which is much more important and many times more difficult. Forget? Never. We will always remember.
We are not victims. We are survivors.