Disbelief. Noun. “The inability or refusal to believe something as true.”
Note that the disbelief is not defined as “a viable way to render an issue nonexistent.” The word “inability,” however, is in the definition, a paraphrase being “the inability to accept the reality of a concept,” if what you doubt is in fact truth.
People are so quick to label the ugly parts of life as untrue. Believing in the ugly is the first step to beautifying it, as the second step is improving it. Yet when it comes to rape or molestation, we slap a euphemism on its surface and quickly move away—if we don’t respond with “liar,” “slut,” or “asking for it.”
Each response needs its own discussion; this one deals with the concept of lying. Believe it or not, very few women decide to fabricate their experience of sexual assault. Very few women elect to become a “slut” who was “asking for it” and now just “want pity” while “blaming a man that they’re really just angry at.”
It’s understandable to hope that something so horrible would be a myth. It would be wonderful to believe that sexual assault was terrible, but knowing it’s only as real as the Boogeyman. But is lying to ourselves really worth leaving our fellow men and women in the mud? Surely not. Yet it’s done constantly, daily, even hourly.
Aside from the original experience of the attack, being accused of lying has been one of the most damaging experiences for myself as a survivor. Our society is so heavy on slut shaming and victim blaming. So when you’re a victim of sexual assault and a female, you suddenly are a lying whore who is at fault for your own rape—even though your accuser insists that you’re lying. This societal mindset is what keeps survivors’ cards close to their chests; fear of being demonized for something that even they sometimes begin to believe is their fault. So when we trust you enough to show you our hand, do not knock our cards on the floor. Picking them back up gets harder every time, and we never should have been given such a bad deal in the first place.
Some of you may be saying, “But our society doesn’t blame victims! We don’t slut shame!”
Once again, I would like to remind you that disbelief is not a solution. If you need convincing, just see the photo attached, Jenna Marble’s “Things I Don’t Understand About Girls Part 2: Slut Edition,” or the Facebook page “Shit Sluts Say.” If you need more proof, feel free to Google “I Hate Sluts” or A Voice For Men’s article that speaks with the tone of any rape apologist.
In all honesty, you can’t stop sexual assault from ever occurring again. You can work to educate others. You can put forth a conscious effort. But many of us don’t feel called, or equipped, to do this. That’s fine—I’m not asking you all to take the same job. But I’m begging you to believe us when we tell you our stories.