Serial sexual predators, especially those in positions of power, rely on this fear in their victims to keep their abuse from coming to light. It may begin as your word against his, but if a pattern emerges – as it so often does – then it may be the word of dozens of victims against him. After the first woman comes forward, many other women also speak up, precisely because they now know it is not just their word alone. Additionally, it is possible that other victims have spoken up and you simply have not heard about it. For example, a police investigation may not want to tip off the predator by publicizing accusations in the media while they work to gather evidence to make an arrest. In a few of the cases we have handled, police initially talked to women who had made reports, but then could not make an arrest because they did not have sufficient evidence. Later, after more victims surface, the police can then gather all the victims together to pursue criminal charges.
The fear of breaking the silence can be extremely strong. In one of our cases, there was a suspicion that the predator had been highly active in his abuse, although we only had a small number of victims. We suspected that there were more victims who had not yet broken their silence. In an effort to bring the predator and his employer who harbored him to justice, we were able to win a petition and have the judge compel the company to release to us the names of all females who had been transported in an ambulance attended by the abuser. With difficult and time consuming efforts, we were finally able to show that as many as 1 in 6 women had been victimized, but had never broken their silence.
Each woman believed it was only her word against the paramedic’s, but taken together, their voices made an undeniable chorus of evidence.
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