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Statement on #WhyIDidntReport

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen the rise of #WhyIDidntReport following the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the brave testimony of Christine Blasey Ford. Like many of us, it was difficult for us to watch the ridicule that Dr. Blasey Ford suffered following her testimony.

Every day at Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, children bravely recount their horrible experiences of sexual abuse and assault. More than 2,000 children walk through our doors every year. In their forensic interview, they share terrible details of sexual abuse that no child should suffer.

We must also face the sad reality that these are only a fraction of the children who have experienced sexual violence in our city. Only one-third of sexual abuse and assault is ever reported to law enforcement or child protection authorities. Stated another way, for every 10 children who experience sexual violence, only 3 will ever tell anyone.

Child victims of sexual violence do not report the abuse because they feel embarrassed and ashamed, even though they’re clearly not at fault. These children fear they will not be believed, they fear retaliation from their abuser, and they do not want to relive their trauma by recounting it to anyone, most especially people they don’t know.

We see this every day. We know why children don’t report. And these children quickly grow into adults who too often bare a crushing burden for the rest of their lives.

When children speak about sexual abuse, we must listen and we must believe them. As adults, it’s our responsibility to protect children. It is as important as ever for adults to learn about sexual abuse so that we’re ready to listen when a child is brave enough to come forward. 

It has been encouraging to see so many brave people talk about their horrible experiences of abuse. As a city and as a country, we must commit to understanding #WhyIDidntReport and to creating a society where children and adults can feel safe. It’s time.

Char Rivette
Executive Director
Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center


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