Madonna opened up about her sexual assault and how the emotional aftermath she faced was heartbreaking.
It’s an issue so many raped women face: To press charges or not?
For Madonna, the assault happened soon after she moved to New York City. She didn’t have a support system, which made the decision even harder.
“First I was in shock, I didn’t know a soul,” the singer confessed during her candid interview on the Howard Stern Show. “I was saying hi to people on the streets like a dork. I was going to a dance class and the door was locked and I needed money for the pay phone… [a man] gave it to me… he was a very friendly guy. I trusted everybody.”
She explained that the man convinced her to come to his apartment to use his phone.
“I was raped,” she said. “The first year I lived in New York was crazy.”
And then Madonna made a decision that many other women make: She decided not to go to police.
“You’ve already been violated,” she explained. “It’s just not worth it. It’s too much humiliation.”
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six women in the U.S. will be raped in her lifetime — a new sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds, the organization reports. Sixty-eight percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police and 98 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
It’s shocking how common it is for a woman to feel the way Madonna did. After the humiliating, traumatic experience of being raped, it’s incredibly common for women to seek ways to feel in control of their bodies and their lives, say the findings in a study by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. One way for women to feel like they have more control over the situation is to decide not to report sexual assault.
Madonna is just one example of a broken system — one that sees perpetrators walking free every day because the nature of the crime makes pressing charges so difficult. It’s a heartbreaking reality of our system and one that doesn’t have an easy solution.
What do you think should be done to make reporting rape easier for the victims? Tell us in the comments — we want to hear your ideas.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can get free, confidential help 24/7 by contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or going online at rainn.org.