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So I did this. It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. I was at a rally in response to the aquittal of Jian Ghomeshi on choking and sexual assault charges. The brave women who came forward were only a few of his many victims. They were attacked on the stand and called “unreliable” and devious.

People were outraged and saddened but not surprised. What else can we expect from a “justice” system that is not set up to help victims of sexual assault? What does a woman have to do, who does she have to be to be believed? It seems pretty clear that there is nothing she can do or be to be believed. In our “justice” system as it is today, disbelief of rape victims is the norm.

The next time you feel inclined to ask, “If she was really raped, why didn’t she go to the police?” don’t. Just don’t! If you listen to survivors, if you look at statistics, you’ll know why many of us don’t go to the police.

I have been to the police four times about what happened to me. They treated me like a liar, asking me to show my veins to prove I’m not a junkie (as if that would mean I hadn’t been raped), refusing to let me take a break for food or drink, and even asking me if, at fourteen, I had wanted one of my sexual abusers to leave his wife for me! I endured all that humiliation and emotional agony in the hope of preventing my abusers from raping more children. Not once did it get as far as being brought to court and, if it had been, I’m quite sure I too would have been attacked on the stand and there would have been no justice.

Why is disbelief of rape victims the default — in our families, in our schools, in our churches, in our police departments, in our courts, in our entire culture? What does a woman have to do, who does she have to be to be believed?

The next time you feel inclined to doubt someone who tells you she was raped, don’t. Don’t!  It’s long long past time to start believing. We’re telling the truth. And rapists will never be stopped if we don’t believe that simple fact.

Believe! Just believe.

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