“Why didn’t she speak up sooner?” It’s a question that is often asked when women (and men) speak out, years after being sexually assaulted.
It’s also a question that has been fired at pop singer-songwriter, Kesha, following allegations that she was drugged and sexually assaulted by her record producer, Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), several times throughout her career.
There are several factors that could prevent someone from coming forward, and it’s not uncommon for sexual assault survivors to wait several years before feeling comfortable enough to report the assault.
The emotional impact of sexual assault can have dramatic short-term and long-term effects on a survivor. This might include feelings of guilt, humiliation, fear, shame, depression, post-traumatic stress, and worst of all, feeling as though no one will believe them if they do speak up.
With these sensitive emotions in mind, it’s important to recognise why a seemingly innocent question such as “why didn’t she speak up sooner?” can be considered language that incites victim blamming.
Grammy Award Winner, Lady Gaga, who has also spoken out recently about being raped at 19 years old by a record producer, has responded on Instagram to victim blaming language that has been directed at Kesha, and other sexual assault survivors.
“The very reason women don’t speak up for years is the fear that no one will believe them or their abuser has threatened their life or life of their loved one’s / livelihood in order to keep their victim quiet and under control,” she wrote.
“What happened to Kesha has happened to many female artists, including myself, and it will affect her for the rest of her life.
“No one needs to validate Kesha. Why is victim always the ‘liar’? Why do we let people in a position of power get away with behaving inhumanely? These guys hide behind the legal system and it’s their litigious behavior that is precisely what they use to rape these girls. ‘Give me what I want or else I will come after you’ and they have all the money and the resources to do it.”
You can help survivors of sexual assault by challenging victim blaming comments, and encouraging others to do the same.
If you feel motivated to support victims of sexual assault, why not create a fundraising page to help raise funds and awareness.