We ask the experts: Why do some sexual assault survivors wait decades to report?

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Thursday will be a big day for Washington, as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s first sexual assault accuser will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After now three women have come forward with their experiences alleging Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct, many keep asking “why would they wait so long to say something?” We asked the experts.

Dianne Whitehouse, Sexual Assault Examiner Nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart, said there are lots of reasons victims may not come forward right away; but the biggest one is shame. Whitehouse noted some sexual assault survivors could have been drugged or drinking at the time it happened, and it can take a while for them to remember the abuse. Whitehouse said it is no surprise if survivors come forward 10, 20, even 30 years later.

“I always like to tell people and the general public, let’s not focus on the reason why it took someone so long to come forward that we really need to support our victims and say that it is okay to come forward years later, it’s not your fault,” said Whitehouse.

Some Republicans said this timing of these allegations against Kavanaugh makes them think the accusations are a political stunt.

“It really kind of reeks, If it happened, it would be horrible,” said Mike Conlin of the Executive Republican Committee of Eau Claire County. “I’m not denying the seriousness of the allegation, I’m just denying the veracity of the timing and double standard.”

Conlin believes the Democratic Party wants to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation until after the November elections, so its members can refuse to confirm any Republican candidate President Donald Trump puts forth.

Whitehouse said the Wisconsin law states that every individual that comes forward and makes a claim they have been sexually assaulted gets a medical screening, which is a head-to-toe exam for injuries, STDs, scars and many other things.

For sexual assault victims that want their abuse documented, they can consent to a rape kit. That way, evidence is collected, including DNA. Rape kit evidence must be collected within a 96-hour window, and sometimes it can go to 120 hours if the victim had been held captive or other extenuating circumstances.

Click here for resources to help sexual assault survivors.

Lindsey Ford

Lindsey Ford

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