Recently, the story of Taylor Swift’s sexual assault has come into light. To recap, at a meet-and-greet before one of her concerts in 2013, Taylor Swift was posing for a photo with a radio DJ, David Mueller, when he reached under her skirt and groped her. What happened next really doesn’t even matter, because whether she told anyone or not, it still happened and that cannot be invalidated. Period.
She did, however, tell someone. She told her mother and other people on her team. That alone is brave and should be commended. It is not easy to disclose that you have been violated in any way, particularly when you live in such a public eye. Taylor wanted to keep this incident quiet, as many victims do, and therefore did not report it to the police. This is not an uncommon reaction. Many survivors of sexual assault do not report what happened to them to authorities. Some feel embarrassment, shame, fear, denial, or confusion. Some need time to cope with their experience before deciding if or how they wish to take action. It is a grueling process for many survivors to endure, so many often choose not to endure it at all.
But when Mueller sued Taylor for slander two years later, suggesting she fabricated the story with the intentions of getting him fired, Taylor stood her ground and counter-sued for assault. “Swift countersued Mueller for the symbolic amount of $1. The singer, who spoke to The Guardian in 2014 about embracing feminism, is seeking Mueller’s recognition of responsibility as ‘an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.’ She pledged to donate any financial reward from the trial to charities supporting survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence.”
Unfortunately, many survivors face the blame and disbelief that Taylor is experiencing. Many do not have physical evidence to prove that their assault occurred, but that does not mean that it didn’t occur. It is so rare for someone to lie about being sexually assaulted. Yet, many victims are accused of fabricating or exaggerating, which only minimizes, denies, and invalidates their experience. And then we wonder why this crime is so under-reported.
So, thank you, Taylor. Thank you for having the courage to speak up about what happened to you, and for doing so with the intention of being the voice for the voiceless.
My hope during this trial is for the continuation of the outflow of support for Taylor with an added understanding of what some victims and survivors may experience. We still have many minimizing and demeaning beliefs about survivors of sexual assault; about how they are to blame, about how they should react, about how they should feel, about how they should report, and the list goes on. Hopefully, the more education we have about these issues, the more we will believe and support survivors.
As the trend on social media states, #StayStrongTaylor and all of the survivors out there. I stand with you.