It is very common for women and men to wait years and even decades before reporting sexual assault and abuses. This happens for a number of reasons, including feelings of shame and guilt surrounding the circumstances of the assault.
Many victims simply do not feel ready to put what happened to them into words. They do not feel strong enough to relive the encounter when telling the police, then again in court.
They also fear retaliation from the predator. This could be in the form of personal attacks to discredit the victim’s story. The victim and their family and friends can sometimes become the target of smear campaigns.
For Ford, it wasn’t until a therapy session in 2012 that she was able to acknowledge what had happened to her. She told the Washington Post that the assault “derailed me substantially for four or five years”.
In the wake of Trump’s comments, a Twitter campaign named #WhyIDidntReport offered an outlet for many victims of sexual assault to explain why many victims don’t come forward at the time of the attack.