Why women stay silent after sexual assault (with English subtitles) | Inés Hercovich


There are about 5,000 women here today. Among us, 1,250 have been
or will be sexually assaulted at some point in our lives. One in four. Only 10 percent will report it. The other 90 percent
take refuge in silence — half of them, because the incident
involves a close family member or someone they know, and that makes it much more difficult
to deal with and talk about. The other half don’t talk about it because they fear they won’t be believed. And they’re right — because we don’t. Today I want to share with you
why I think we don’t believe them. We don’t believe them because when
a woman tells what happened to her, she tells us things we can’t imagine, things that disturb us, things we don’t expect to hear, things that shock us. We expect to hear stories like this one: “Girl raped near
the Mitre Railroad tracks. It happened at midnight
as she was on her way home. She said that someone
attacked her from behind, told her not to scream, said he had a gun
and that she shouldn’t move. He raped her and then fled the scene.” When we hear or read a story like this, we immediately visualize it: the rapist, a depraved lower-class man. And the victim, a young, attractive woman. The image only lasts 10 or 20 seconds,
and it’s dark and two-dimensional; there’s no movement, no sound;
it’s as if there were no people involved. But when a woman tells her story,
it doesn’t fit in 10 or 20 seconds. The following is the testimony
of a woman I’ll call “Ana.” She’s one of the 85 women I interviewed while conducting research
on sexual assault. Ana told me: “I had gone with the girls in the office
to the same pub we always go to. We met some guys, and I hooked up with this super
cool guy; we talked a lot. Around 4am, I told my friends
it was time to go. They wanted to stay. So, the guy asked me where I lived and said if it was OK with me,
he’d drive me home. I agreed, and we left. At a stoplight, he told me
he liked me and touched my leg. I don’t like a guy
to approach me that way, but he had been affectionate all night. I thought, ‘I shouldn’t be so paranoid. What if I say something but he
didn’t mean anything by it, and I offend him?’ When he should have made a turn,
he kept going straight. I thought he had made
a mistake, and I said, ‘You should have turned there.’ But something felt off. Thinking back, I wonder, ‘Why didn’t I pay attention
to what I was feeling?’ When he pulled over near the highway, that’s when I got scared. But he told me to relax, that he liked me, and that nothing would happen
unless I wanted it to. He was nice. I didn’t say anything, because I was afraid he would get angry, and that things would get worse. I thought he might have a gun
in the glove compartment. Suddenly, he jumped on me
and tried to kiss me. I said no. I wanted to push him away,
but he was holding my arms down. When I wriggled free, I tried to open
the door, but it was locked. And even if I had gotten out,
where would I have gone? I told him he wasn’t the kind of guy
who needed to do that to be with a girl, and that I liked him, too,
but not in that way. I tried to calm him down. I said nice things about him. I talked to him as if
I were his older sister. Suddenly, he covered
my mouth with one hand and with the other hand
he unbuckled his belt. I thought right then he would kill me,
strangle me, you know? I never felt so alone, like I had been kidnapped. I asked him to finish quickly
and then take me home.” How did you feel listening to this story? Surely, several questions arose. For example: Why didn’t she roll down
the window and call for help? Why didn’t she get out of the car
when she felt something bad might happen? How could she ask him to take her home? Now, when we hear this kind
of story not on the news or from someone like me,
presenting it on a stage like this — when we’re hearing it from someone we know who chose to entrust us
with the story of what happened to them, we’ll have to listen. And we’ll hear things
we won’t be able to understand — or accept. And then doubts, questions
and suspicion will creep in. And that is going to make us feel
really bad and guilty. So to protect ourselves
from the discomfort, we have an option. We turn up the volume
on all the parts of the story that we expected to hear: a gun in the glove compartment,
the locked doors, the isolated location. And we turn down the volume
on all the parts of the story that we didn’t expect to hear and that we don’t want to hear; like when she tells him
that she liked him, too, or when she tells us she spoke to him
as if she were his older sister, or that she asked him to take her home. Why do we do this? It’s so we can believe her; so we can feel confident
that she really was a victim. I call this “victimization of the victim.” “Victimization,” because in order
to believe she’s innocent, that she’s a victim, we need to think of her
as helpless, paralyzed, mute. But there’s another way
to avoid the discomfort. And it’s exactly the opposite: we turn up the volume on the things
we didn’t expect to hear, such as “I spoke nicely to him,”
“I asked him to take me home,” “I asked him to finish quickly,” and we turn down the volume
on the things we did expect to hear: the gun in the glove compartment, the isolation. Why do we do this? We do it so we can cling to the doubts and feel more comfortable about them. Then, new questions arise, for instance: Who told her go to those clubs? You saw how she and her friends
were dressed, right? Those miniskirts, those necklines? What do you expect? Questions that aren’t really questions,
but rather, judgments — judgments that end in a verdict: she asked for it. That finding would be verified by the fact that she didn’t mention having
struggled to avoid being raped. So that means she didn’t resist. It means she consented. If she asked for it and allowed it, how are we calling it rape? I call this “blaming the victim.” These arguments that serve us
both to blame and to victimize, we all have them in our heads, at hand — including victims and perpetrators. So much so, that when Ana came to me, she told me she didn’t know if her testimony was going
to be of any use, because she wasn’t sure
if what happened to her qualified as rape. Ana believed, like most of us, that rape is more like armed robbery — a violent act that lasts 4 or 5 minutes — and not smooth talking from a nice guy that lasts all night and ends
in a kidnapping. When she felt afraid she might be killed, she was afraid to be left with scars, and she had to give her body to avoid it. That’s when she knew that rape
was something different. Ana had never talked
about this with anyone. She could have turned to her family, but she didn’t. She didn’t because she was afraid. She was afraid the person
she’d choose to tell her story to would have the same reaction
as the rest of us: they’d have doubts, suspicions; those same questions we always have
when it comes to things like this. And if that had happened, it would have been worse, perhaps,
than the rape itself. She could have talked
to a friend or a sister. And with her partner, it would
have been extremely difficult: the slightest hint of doubt
on his face or in his voice would have been devastating for her and would have probably meant
the end of their relationship. Ana keeps silent
because deep down she knows that nobody — none of us,
not her family or therapists, let alone the police or judges — are willing to hear what Ana
actually did in that moment. First and foremost, Ana said, “No.” When she saw that her “no” didn’t help, she spoke nicely to him. She tried not to exacerbate his violence or give him ideas. She talked to him as if everything
that was happening were normal, so he wouldn’t be thinking
that she would turn him in later. Now, I wonder and I ask all of you: All those things she did — isn’t that considered resisting? No. For all or at least most of us, it’s not, probably because it’s not “resisting”
in the eyes of the law. In most countries, the laws still require
that the victim prove her innocence — that’s right: the victim needs
to prove her innocence — by showing marks on her body as evidence that she engaged
in a vigorous and continuous fight with her aggressor. I can assure you, in most court cases, no amount of marks is ever enough. I listened to many women’s stories. And I didn’t hear any of them
talking about themselves as if they had been reduced to a thing, totally subjected
to the will of the other. Rather, they sounded astonished
and even a little proud looking back and thinking how clear-headed
they had been at the time, of how much attention
they paid to every detail, as if that would allow them to exert
some control over what was happening. Then I realized, of course — what women are doing in these situations is negotiating. They’re trading sex for life. They ask the aggressor to finish quickly, so everything is over as soon as possible
and at the lowest cost. They subject themselves to penetration, because believe it or not, penetration is what keeps them furthest from a sexual or emotional scenario. They subject themselves to penetration, because penetration is less painful than kisses, caresses and gentle words. Now, if we continue to expect rape to be what it very rarely is — with the rapist as a depraved
lower-class man and not a university student
or a businessman who goes out chasing after girls
on a Friday or Saturday; if we keep expecting
the victims to be demure women who faint on the scene, and not self-confident women — we will continue to be unable to listen. Women will continue to be unable to speak. And we will all continue to be responsible for that silence and their solitude. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Why women stay silent after sexual assault (with English subtitles) | Inés Hercovich

  1. It's almost certainly the case that a much higher percentage of men stay silent about being abused (not just sexually) than women do. People instinctively want to protect and coddle women (just look at all the effort put into talks about women being victims of everything) while men are quite often derided as being "weak" or "pathetic" for being victims.
    Another reason why people in general don't come froward is a lack of evidence. You can't have someone arrested and thrown in jail with no proof. It sucks if you've been wronged but it's the way it should be. The feminist idea of "listen and believe" undermines one of the core principles of modern civilization.

  2. Let's take this moment to remember all the innocent men whose lives have been permanently destroyed by the lies of a woman, including the countless thousands languishing in jail for a crime of rape that never happened. Let's take this moment to appreciate the power for extreme evil one particular gender (not men) has, because all it takes is for a woman to accuse a man of a sexual crime, and the man is instantly guilty, even if he's innocent. Lastly, let us condemn a society that consistently holds women to lower standards of civil behavior along with watered-down punishments for infantile behaviors that destroy lives of innocent men.

  3. For the same reason men do (a few reasons less actually, but close enough for an approximation) and for the same reasons any victim of any crime might not report.

  4. I won't spend 16 minutes of my life listening to a woman explaining why they stay stay silent😂.
    Anyway, they have to talk less,,, and smash them in an effective way.

  5. '1 in 4' But why do the statistics not support that you might ask? "90% are not reporting it, OBSVIOUSLY!!!" Kinda seems the endlessly debunked 1 in 4 is feminists having a conclusion, then creating the "facts" to support it. It's quite shameful and tasteless that they keep spouting out this utter idiocy like it's a mathematical axiom, when feminists themselves, credible ones atleast, reject the number..
    '1 in 4 men are raped by women" How do you know, one might ask? "99.9 % of men don't report it" "it's because comments like those in this section victims of rape don't report"
    It's sad that broken records like this speaker get a platform, with nothing to say but refute lines.
    There is a bigger problem than the statistics ofc, and that might come down to my lack of understanding, but: what does it entail to believe or not believe? This is in no way clear. Who does this request to believe be targeted at? What I mean by this, for example, is if a woman said she was raped, my belief of her does not carry any power except from an interpersonal relation. The cops should always believe to the point of investigation, but if their investigation falls flat of evidence, does that mean they "don't believe"? If a judge does not find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, does that mean he refuses to believe? Is the boss of the accused refusing to believe a woman who accuses his/her employee if he/she doesn't fire him, even thought the proof of his actions is yet to be given an investigation? Is a person who knows the accused, but does not instantly alienate him refusing to believe the accuser?
    The implications for the ideologically possesed are clear. The application of reasons why "90% do not report it" and here's why is idiotic. We are talking about 2 different things here. One is rape, the other is sexual assault, which is anything from touching improperly to looking at someone in an improper way.
    The level of intellectual dishonesty is shameful, and deserving of contempt that a liar is the proper person to presents the subject.

  6. A woman agrees to have a drink with a married man in his hotel room. Soon, she's married to the POTUS. Another woman does the same thing with Bill C. This time a different result occurs. A result allegedly not so pleasant.

  7. Maybe just maybe guys that don't rape, don't really care about this topic. And guys that do rape – are sadly aroused by the topic?
    Any psychology majors care to take a shot at this? Of course I'm speaking for myself and what could be others, just a thought. I would prefer there was no rape, but, humans are predictably weak.

  8. I like the measured appproach this talk took, in fact everything about it, and I withheld until I'd read the comments… I think the reason why comments are so butthurt is by gendering the title it suggests its exclusively a womans issue, and while male sexual assualt is less common and documented, there is I guess around 500% more liklehood he'll stay silent, that's all.

  9. I was watching intently, but when she started pointing out that "we" victimized the victim, I was about to stop watching. The account of "Ana" being raped is normal in my eyes, it does not cause disconfort in the way she says, at least to me. It would cause concern to me if "Ana" was revealing that this happened to her!

  10. There have been TED talks that relied too much on emotion and pleading, instead of logical arguments. This talk, however (if you actually watch it instead of just reading the title), is pretty intelligent, well thought out, and eloquent.

  11. Negotiating might be understandable in such a situation, but it is extremely wrong, if your goal is not getting raped.
    If you are in such a situation, fight. Use your nails, your teeth, your voice.
    Don't make any appeasements, stand your ground.

  12. Stop promoting this nonsense to women. Women now are paranoid that all men are potential rapists because of fear mongering dogma like this.

  13. Esto es tan cierto. La verdad es que en muchos casos, las violaciones no son con un hombre desconocido y violento, si no de una persona con quien la mujer confiaba. Y en muchos casos, cuando la mujer dice no, y el hombre no le respeta ese “no”, las mujeres se culpan a si mismas por no haber hecho más para evitarlo. La realidad es que en ese momento muchas mujeres tienen miedo de arriesgar que la situación se haga violenta y por eso se dejan, y luego no dicen nada por qué piensan que no fue una violación de verdad. Pero si lo fue, el momento que usted dice “no” y el sigue, es una violacion. Me hace tan triste que para muchas, eso no es claro.

  14. It was a bit difficult to watch the entire video without crying after knowing someone close to me that was in that situation. Made me feel guilty for being suspicious and doing exactly what the speaker said about 'blaming the victim'. My cousin didn't report it as well, and even kept the baby. So I'm really glad this video was posted. Thank you for making me realize what I did was wrong and that I selectively heard what I wanted to hear from her.

  15. Some may think that they most definitely would report any sexual assault but fail to realize that you're mind is so powerful that you may not even believe what happened yourself or you try to rationalize it because it's not "normal" to experience something traumatic and then feel guilty. Even if you manage to say a no you're body may paralyze and everything feels so out of control that your mind doesn't want to believe what happened.

  16. I feel like talks like this just go past me
    I dont see why the Story of "Ana" should be hard to believe then she explains a very basic phenomenon on psychology and doesnt even say what would be a solution.

  17. Also its insane how ignorant some of you are. I sometimes forgett how some can just ignore everything that doesnt comfort with their feelings.

  18. Why do some men always feel entitled to be a part of everything? Just let women have this spotlight. This woman is speaking on behalf of other women because she can empathize with them. You don’t always have to be part of everything. Men get sexual assaulted. So do kids sometimes. So do transsexuals. But this video is about woman. Let them have the spotlight, alright? So many people here talk about why how she is only speaking about woman… well if you care so much, why don’t you go up and speak on behalf of men? You can have your spotlight, but also let woman have their spotlight?

  19. Those questions, have obvious answers, it didnt look like imminent threat, its quite usual people trust strangers, no one blames for that. 5:30 Esas preguntas tienen respuestas obvias, no parecia una ameza inminente, y es bastante tipico que la gente confie en extraños, nadie la culpa por eso

  20. LOLOL Paralyzed, muted… omg nobody has any problem with these stories, nobody turns any volume up and down, THE ONES THAT TURN VOLUME UP OR DOWN IS THE PRESS ONLY

  21. LOLOL told her to go to clubs? how they dress?? NOW YOU ARE SAYING EVERYONE DOES THIS? NOW YOU ARE CALLING EVERYONE MYSOGINIST

  22. This just makes me see how hard it is for people and myself included to distinguish what rape actually is. So many variations of rape. We all have mothers and this scares me.

  23. Nobody blames the victims, You saying that everyone does, is a trick of your mind to make you believe you are in a movie and everyone is a mad mysoginist and you will be a hero, grow up, nobody blames the victim, theres gotta be another reason for the girls staying in silence but not that, i think speaking for everyone, we all are up for listening and seek justice all together

  24. WE ALL HAVE THEM IN OUR HEADS?? NO NO THATS WHERE YOU STOP, STOP ACCUSING EVERYONE, IF YOU DID HAVE THOSE ARGUMENTS TO BLAME THE VICTIM AND NOW YOU FEEL GUILTY FOR IT, DONT TRY TO HELP YOU BY THINKING EVERYONE HAS THOSE DESPICABLE THOUGHTS, 9:48

  25. Hey lady, when you say those bad things speak for yourself you are only trying to help you by thinking everyone would have thought the same

  26. I know why they stay silent

    Its because half the time it didn’t FUCKING happen they just won’t to have attention and complain

  27. Good speech that everyone should listen. These are things that happen to girls and women more frequently than you think. Thanks TED for the upload.

  28. OK. I have to say it. TED brand is destroyed. We only getting talks with SJW propaganda. Or talks with intellectual content for 10 year olds – like this bird guy in next talk. It is very sad, TED was something ten years ago. Now it's a waste of time. Time to unsub.

  29. If you consented without a real and present coercion then you were not raped. She may have been assaulted but those charges can not be used against the other party.

    If you only consent because you think he might have a gun, or might hurt you, then he did not break the law.

  30. It seems like women choose to stay silent even in the comments while men so willing to talk. I experience same situation while talking in groups, when a social gender topic comes out about women same thing happens and women stay quiet. I started to believe this is kind of instinct behaviour of them. They might try to not to be targeted or not to be suspected about something. I don't know. I know this is hard topic to talk about. My conclusion is, this shows how much we are animal then human being.

  31. a man jerked off to me on the suburban train while i was going home from school. he was over 50, maybe 60. i am 15… this disturbed me a lot…also perfect timing mate

  32. man when ever the topics anything to do with women on TEDX i come to see comments and dislikes and its always negative. But i think TED has done this to themselves they've had so many people such as feminists talking false info like wage gaps.

  33. This isn't not known… right? It's like "hey guys, why didn't people know that cigarettes are bad for their health? Why didn't people know baseball players used steroids?"

    We did know. We do. It's actually very, very commonly known.

  34. There is a big difference between a woman lying and telling the truth. This is why we have to consider rape cases in such detail, as explained. But I also feel this applies to a scnerario of false rape accusation.

    Before I begin I'm just gonna say that I'm a guy, purely because If I were a woman saying this I might come off as a 3rd wave radical feminist. That doesn't mean I support them, but anyway, here's my 'experience':

    So basically, my friend falsely accused someone of rape. Considering she has numerous mental issues, she was with him when she had a panic attack and began to believe she had been raped. I also heard that she had dreams and nightmares of this afterwards. She even claimed to have PTSD, which I witnessed when she was drunk and she kept repeating 'I can feel it'. It was heartbreaking. She broke down in front of me, yet being half drunk myself, all I could do was cry with her while discussing the experience.

    Despite this, learning that the police's DNA swab showed up negative for the 'agressor's' actions made me lose a large amount of respect for her. She had falsely accused someone of rape. I blocked them on social media and all my friends turned against him yet he was the victim all along. Now I feel guilty.

    I'm obviously not condoning people falsely claiming rape accounts, but I'm also not condoning women to stay silent. I believe this presenter has the right idea in mind. We can't just imagine a wide picture. Every detail matters, whether it supports someone's claim or if it goes against what they say. As long as they're found guilty or innocent, that is the best way of getting justice for a man (who may have/may have not done it) as well as a woman (who could be the victim or the aggressor making a false claim) . False rape accusations can be as bad as rape itself dependant upon how devastating it is and vice versa.

    Opinions?

  35. rape is probably one of the most disgusting things there are. no doubt about that. but the law is like it is due to a sheer amount of false accusations that are possible if you do not need any proof. It is a really difficult situation. But in germany, for example, there was a time where you did not need any proof at all (or almost none) and suddenly, from the day the law was changed, every woman going through the process of divorce "was raped" by her husband. That way, they get more money etc. Unfortunately, this is a really difficult situation in front of the court. – And also, this is a single-case example. is it representative for what women do in these situations? (not trying to refute that, i really dont know)

  36. If only it wasn't gender specific. Guess there's only a female specific lecture on the subject because less men speak up about sexual assault in fear of looking vulnerable. Therefore it would be more socially groundbreaking to have the same lecture to be made for the specifics of the male gender.

  37. The problem is the power indifference, not your gender/sexuality. You don’t need to be a strong & rough looking male to abuse someone. The perpetrator depends on the victim-specific weakness. It can be physical or mental. That’s why it’s so common for family/friends to be abusive, because they know their victim so well – what they will fight for and what they’ll keep secret & feel ashamed for.
    Gender role stereotyping plays a massive part in determining your power. When women aren’t expected to be emotional housekeepers and men aren’t expected to be emotionless labourers, the world will be a better place.

  38. You all in the comments asking about why men stay silent after sexual assault, but this video talks about women, I'm not saying you men are less important in this. But it's not your time, for this kind of people women stay silent about sexual harassment, because you underestimate how women feel, you makes us feel guilty (men and another women does) when it comes, you think that it is not so bad, and that we're giving to it so much importance. The society do not take us seriusly when we talk about a sexual assault, and if it happends, they judge the woman and blame her instead helping and her feel safe and loved.

  39. Before I get attacked I want to clearly state as a male with a mother, sister, gf & many other important woman in my life I do think we should support woman to come forward & put men that inappropriately touch them or harass them in their place but @ the same time I can't as a rational human being say it is right for these claims to come up decades later relieving all burden of proof & tarnishing ones name with a unsubstantiated claim. Granted not many woman lie abt sexual assault as we know the vast majority doesn't but I see this becoming a problem these claims w/o evidence & random accusations can easily end up looking like the salem witch trials just a bunch of accusations w/o proof & ppl getting burned @ the stake of public opinion. Other than mass histeria there wasn't much rationale behind accusations @ that time unlike now where woman can accuse for a # of reasons 1.a man who is bad @ receiving social signals & a woman who doesn't speak up during uncomfortable situations can easily spell a recipe for disaster & this miscommunication or misunderstanding of intent csb be toxic 2. A legitimate workplace relationship that went sour & the female is tired of seeing the guys face bc she is uncomfortable & she reports harrassment I know this as true because I've personally seen it happen 3. Coworkers & colleagues finding out of a fling a woman may lie bcuz she doesn't want to be judged or lose her job depending on company policy or even get caught by her husband if it's an affair so she can throw the guy under the bus I've heard of that as well 4. Less likely but very possible a female colleague who wants your job or just doesn't like you as her superior & can fabricate a story to rid you of your job or 5. Possible as we have seen with Roy Moore paying someone to make a fake story if you have the money won't be too hard to get somebody to lie on someone else not as likely but I see it happening in hollywood. Either way I approve of coming forward But it must be with evidence otherwise there will be backlash mark my words ppl will be scared to hire woman & probably start to accuse woman too & avoid interacting with female colleagues due to fear of a subjective claim all I'm saying is we shouldn't allow random clsims to damage careers w/o evidence doesn't mean you don't take her word it means there must be an investigation & unless something is found out then it remains confidential

  40. The greatest thing missing from feminism today is the desire for women to more thoroughly understand the struggles of the average man. Without equal empathy from women on the hardships of men, men will also continue to refuse to empathize on the hardships of women. Men and women need to stand up for each other. Feminism is for equality. I say this with much love. Yours truly, a feminist.

  41. It's a shame TED is deleting comments. I understand that some might have been very bad, but how do I see them and determine how far (or close) my beliefs are from them?

    Stop censoring.

  42. I wish I had watched this back when "it" first happened. Maybe I would've realized what was happening everyday and that I needed help. Maybe then I could've been believed.

    (Yes I am being punished for being sexually harassed awhile ago and the boy is being treated as the victim.)

  43. But they don't. Look at M3T00. If they haven't experienced it they Make One Up, in the name of an emotional vendetta which they're a party to creating in the first place. Its literally Mass Hysteria and rampant Narcissism.

  44. put all the pedos and rapist at the same deserted island far away from civilized, intelligent people, let them abuse each other all day long

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