Why Didn’t They Report? Math. (And Lots of Other Reasons, Too)

This week we’re going to talk about math. Well, kinda. We’re going to talk about reporting sexual assault, which has to start with math.


This week we’re going to talk about math. Well, kinda. We’re going to talk about reporting sexual assault, which has to start with math.

Imagine that you have 1000 sexual assault survivors. Of that 1000, only 310 will ever report. And our president wants to know why! Why, if a sexual assault happened, would you not report? Well the first answer to that question involves more math. See, out of that original 310 survivors who report, only 57 of those reports will lead to an arrest. That’s… not good odds. Then of that 57 that lead to an arrest, only 11 will be referred to a prosecutor. Of that 11, only 7 will lead to a conviction. Of that 7, only 6 will see jail time. So doing some of that math, if you are sexually assaulted, there is a .006% percent chance that your perpetrator will go to jail. Most of us wouldn’t even carry an umbrella if there was only a .006% chance of rain, let alone put ourselves through the physical, mental, and emotional trauma of reporting a sexual assault for that low of a success rate.

But let’s say you take those odds, and you go to trial. What happens then?

Well if you’re the survivor of an attack by Alaskan man Justin Schneider, you see him get a plea deal that leads to no jail time, after he’s been accused of “kidnapping, choking, and sexually abusing” you.

If you’re Brock Turner’s victim, you get to see him get six months in jail, because he has such a bright future ahead of him.

If you’re Andrea Constand, you get to see every decision you’ve ever made get torn apart.

And there are so many who don’t even get to the trial stage before their lives are torn apart, or their words mean nothing to others. Almost two dozen women reported Trump sexually assaulting or harassing them, and that man still became president.

He became president, and THEN he decided to go on Twitter and demand to know why Christine Blasey Ford didn’t report sooner. Because sometimes people exist with actually negative levels of capacity for shame.

In response, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport started to trend. And I can’t do the original posts justice, but here is a short list of some of the reasons people didn’t report their sexual assault:

Because they feared that their family members would murder the perpetrator.

Because their perpetrator was in a position of power over them.

Because they told someone and got ignored.

Because it could ruin their career.

Because their perpetrator threatened them.

Because their perpetrator was a family friend.

Because their perpetrator was a family member.

Because they were in the middle of a combat zone, assaulted by peers and superior officers.

Because they were afraid they would be blamed.

Because the perpetrator was their partner.

There are a million and one reasons that these women chose not to report. And we have already failed a lot of these women. But we have to start making it up to them. We have to start believing them. And we have to start changing a lot of the cultural and systemic reasons that stopped them from reporting.

Signed: Feminist Fury.


Featured image of a piece of art reading a + b ≠ c by Alan Levine is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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