By Erica Burner
These are the all-consuming emotions that sexual assault survivors face after they’ve been violated. Experiencing these emotions can also cause survivors to not report the attack to authorities.
If the experiences recounted by the brave women who endured the horrors of Harvey Weinstein have taught us anything, we have learned that sexual assault is far more common and pervasive than we used to believe.
Assault involves more than just the physical attack. It involves a mental attack, the feeling of lack of bodily ownership and powerlessness, which leaves the lasting emotional scar upon survivors. Many of these survivors did not come forward for years, and even when they did, they were still confronted by their all-encompassing shame.
Shame is a deep, completely engrossing emotion that attacks from within. It needs no assistance to plant its seed. Feelings of shame often become deeply rooted inside those who experience it.
These women didn’t choose to be sexually assaulted; no one does. No matter what they were wearing, no matter if or how much they drank, no matter their occupation, and no matter if they initially consented. It is not their fault. The fault lies solely on the perpetrator; the person who to chose to violate someone physically and mentally without their consent.
Feelings of shame can be caused by the hearing the insensitive comments of others and a survivor’s own unfounded regrets. Survivors, however, shouldn’t have to think about the potential shame that these horrific attacks sometimes inspire.
Survivors should not have to think about the possibility that leaving their house and having fun, could lead to a horrific attack that will change their lives forever.
Attacking someone is the attacker’s choice alone.
Shame is so deeply engrossing that it is one of the top emotional predictors of suicide. Survivors can become so immersed by the belief that their attack was their fault, that they are led to take their own lives.
It is our responsibility to do everything within our power to prevent this from happening. We must let those who have been assaulted know that they do not need to feel ashamed.
It’s not your fault. It’s never your fault.