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December 19, 2019

The Question Sexual Assault Survivors wish you would Stop Asking.

Why didn’t she tell?

She didn’t tell because you asked her, “Why?”

Why did she wear that shirt/skirt?

Why was she drinking irresponsibly?

Why did she go the the washroom, the coffee shop, the bar alone?

Why did she walk down that street, take that ride, dance with that man?

Why did she…?

She did not tell because you asked, “Why did she not…?”

Why did she not carry a personal alarm, pepper spray, or a weapon?

Why did she not run, kick, fight, scream?

Why did she not call 911?

Why did she not notice he was following her?

She did not tell because of your accusation.

She should have known better.

She is naive.

She wants attention.

She is a flirt.

She attracts the wrong people.

She is crazy.

She did not tell you, because…

You blamed her.

You shamed her.

You betrayed her.

He broke her soul—but you broke her heart.

You see, her mama taught her to not talk to men she didn’t know, to memorize emergency contact numbers, to park in well-lit areas, to look in the backseat before getting in a car, to walk with her keys between her fingers, to keep the doors locked, and to always scream “Fire!” instead of “Help!”

But she was also taught to respect her elders, to not talk back to her teachers, to never speak in church, and to not question authority.

She was taught to always…

Be polite.

Be gentle.

Be lady-like.

Be quiet.

No one ever warned her that it would most likely be someone she knew who would hurt her.

She thought stranger equalled danger.

And so it goes, generation after generation, we have passed these lessons to our girls.

And generation after generation, our Mothers, Aunts, Sisters, and friends kept their secrets and kept repeating the rules to the young, hoping and praying that their daughters never know their pain or ever have to be asked, “Why didn’t you tell?”

Why didn’t she tell?

Because she knew damn freaking well that would be the first question you would ask.

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