Shame, guilt and self-blame: why victims of sexual assault don’t come forward


It took 36-year-old Elizabeth Teo almost 15 years to come to terms with an abusive relationship she was forced into when she was just 19. The man was 20 years older than her. she saw him as a spiritual mentor, and they would meet frequently to pray together.

“One day in one of those meetings he grabbed my hand and said, ‘You made me fall in love with you. Now you can’t get out of the relationship, ”Teo recalled.

With that, her three and a half year nightmare began. Teo alleged that between 2004 and 2007, the man took advantage of her almost daily when they met in his car.

“He would open my lips and teeth… with his tongue, then explore my mouth cavities and kiss me deeply,” she said. She said the incidents escalated a few times.

“He digitally penetrated me maybe three or four times… When that happened, I was looking at the religious symbol hanging on his rearview mirror, and I was just praying to God, please take my soul away then whatever. ‘he was doing, he was doing it to my body, “Teo said.

Teo said the relationship finally ended when “his conscience got the better of him.”

But she never spoke out against her alleged attacker. “I was really ashamed because he was married… I blamed myself for the sexual abuse, I didn’t push him away hard enough, I didn’t run away hard enough. I didn’t say no loud enough, ”Teo said.

Her turning point came in 2018, when a therapist helped her see that she wasn’t at fault for what had happened. She filed a police report in July of the same year.

“I knew there might be a chance that nothing would happen… But I don’t know if he did it to other girls, and it’s about protecting others too… And j ‘wish he knew the pain he put me through,’ she said.

After a year and a half of investigations, the authorities decided not to pursue the Teo case. Although this conclusion is difficult to accept, she said she did not regret making the police report.

“At least he knows I wanted to pursue the case, I hope that scared him for a while,” she added.