Why does rape often go unreported by the victim?

There is more than one simple reason for not reporting a rape. Speaking from my own personal experience I should first remind you that my attack happened 37 years ago. Sexual crimes were not discussed as openly then as they are now. I was so young and naïve; I really didn’t know for sure where to turn. I did realize that if I were to report my attack I would be interrogated by strangers who would require me to relive the event and that thought terrified me.

Secondly, my attacker had threatened me that “If I told anyone what had happened, the next time it would be worse”. I truly believed he would deliver on this threat so keeping quiet seemed to be the only logical option at the time. All my senses were gripped in fear; it was almost as if I was paralyzed and totally helpless.

Also, I was considering my family whom I loved. I felt keeping silent would ensure their safety from retaliation by my attacker. Add to that the fact that I didn’t want to bring disgrace or humiliation to them because of something that had happened to me.

Keeping my rape a secret made perfect sense to my adolescent mind. As an adult I realize it was the most tragic mistake I ever made.

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