Why Are Women So Often Met With Disbelief When It Comes To Sexual Assault?

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Whenever there is a reported rape, my immediate and first response is always going to be to believe the accuser.

For some, this flies in the face of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

Rape is the only crime where you have to prove it happened at the same time as proving the accused did it.

In the case of rape, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ positions the victim, the witness, as a liar until the attacker is proven guilty.

If one party is going to be given the benefit of the doubt then my loyalty is to the party who knows that the system is stacked against them, who knows that a prosecution is against the odds, who knows that a conviction is even less likely, who has taken the step that only 15% of her sisters feel able to do and reported the crime, and who has opened her life and her character up for judgement by strangers.

In a society where to have been raped is considered shameful, to stand up and say ‘I have been raped’ is an act of immense bravery.

Why is the man innocent until proven guilty, and the woman guilty of attempting to ruin his life and perverting the course of justice until proven innocent?

I believe that underlying the widespread disbelief of women is the core human desire to feel safe and in control of our environment.

You see, if it is true (and it is) that you can be raped whatever you’re wearing, wherever you go (even if you stay at home), regardless of whether you’ve been drinking or not, then you cannot keep yourself safe. Then rape can happen to you, too.

Women disbelieve because they don’t want to feel the fear of knowing rape can happen to them.

For men, when they hear of someone who has been accused, they also feel fear.

The fear they feel is different – they feel the fear of ‘but it’s her word against his, what if that happened to me?’

They believe they are good men, that there can’t be as many men who are rapists as the statistics about the number of women being raped would imply, and so they are inclined to believe the myths about false reporting.

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