This is a two part article and it deals with a very serious issue. Let us continue to break the silence #metooorganization.
In the early primary school years, children sometimes play the game of ‘show and tell.’ This is an activity that encourages a child to bring an inanimate object to class, show the object and tell its purpose. I am uncertain of the goal of the activity, but it certainly encourages dialogue as others sit attentively and listen. For a few minutes, the spotlight shines on an individual who plays to a gullible audience; which believes everything it is told. Wouldn’t it be great if all stories have such happy endings?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 12,000 allegations of sexually based harassments are reported annually. Further, women account for 83% of the complainants. Three out of every four complainants, never tell anyone in authority about their experiences (Psychology Today).
Despite the alarming statistics of sexual crimes, these are five of nine reasons why women don’t tell:
• Shame. This is a common reaction of one who has been sexually assaulted. It conjures up deep emotions and conflict; leaving one feeling defiled, violated and confused. Shame encourages victims to ‘hide,’ while they wallow in worthlessness. “I bend my head, because my neck is stiff from an incorrect sleeping position.”
• Denial/Minimization. As a way of dealing with the physical and emotional scars, some victims escape into a world of pretense. They try to act as if nothing happened to them; or worst, make excuses for the perpetrators. “He was drunk when it happened.”
• Fear of Consequences (what will happen to them). Some victims become paralyzed with fear, when they imagine what would happen to them, if others know what has happened to them. These thoughts are always buried in negativisms and ridicule. “I will be scorned and talked about. They will look at me in a weird way.”
• Sanctimonious culture. Victims who live among people who are too ‘holy’ to live on earth, often feel unaccepted, ashamed and alone. They do not believe they would be understood or accepted. They wish to talk about their experiences, but don’t know who can be trusted with such delicate information. “If I tell someone from the church; they would say I am a sinner and need prayers and should keep better company.”
• Low self-esteem. Victims who have never learned to value their worth, or feel good about themselves, tend to slip into sadness and depression. They believe that they are deserving of such atrocities; which generally result in their slipping deeper into an abyss. “He must like me, to do this to me.”
Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of Why women don’t tell.
POINT TO PONDER: Listen carefully; someone is whispering a thought.
• Askdoctorpam is a column that appears in this journal every Tuesday. Your letters and comments are encouraged. You may email your letters or comments to Askdoctorpam, or write to Askdoctorpam P.O. Box F43736. Dr. Pam is a Clinical Psychologist trained in all areas of mental health.