As we all know by now, the COVID-19 Pandemic has taken a great toll on all kinds of events that were scheduled for the previous and upcoming months. In March, I was meant to speak at a conference to share my research “Why Did You Not Report It? An Investigation of the Roles of Guilt, Shame and Gender in the Reporting of Sexual Assault in the United States and Thailand.”
This conference has been postponed to October 2020, and I am hopeful it will still take place!
You can find the abstract below.
B.A. Sociology, Laurentian University
B.A. International Development, King’s College London (ongoing)
Why Did You Not Report It?
An Investigation of the Roles of Guilt, Shame and Gender in the Reporting of Sexual Assault in the United States and Thailand.
With the rise of the Me Too movement, light has increasingly been shed upon the issue of sexual assault. Additionally, questions and debates emerged from the Kavanaugh-Ford trials. Nevertheless, a common question was frequently asked and condemned by many: why did Ford wait to report?
This paper explores the extent to which the feelings of guilt and shame impact victims’ likelihood of reporting an assault. First attempting to define what sexual assault is, I contend that definitions are subjective; on the one hand, a definition is influenced by one’s understanding of sexual intercourse. Alongside norm perceptions and rape myths which evoke guilt and shame, this influences the extent to which victims believe they were sexually assaulted. Therefore, these play a role in a victim’s decision on whether or not to report their assault.
On the other hand, the likelihood of reporting sexual assault is influenced by one’s social situation. I illustrate this using the case study of a Thai slave involved in bonded labour; in such a case, corruption is present within the community’s authorities, thus discouraging victims from reporting an assault, primarily due to the shame that accompanies sex work. The definition once again comes into question; do they perceive such events as sexual assault, or simply as their reality?
Finally, as these discussions tend to omit male victims, I explore how these feelings of guilt and shame, as well as their impact on the rates of reports, differ from those of females.
Keywords: sexual assault, rape myths, norm perceptions, shame, guilt, male rape, sex slavery.