Why Do Those Who Experience Sexual Harassment, Assault Wait to Speak Up?

SACRAMENTO -- For the twice elected and twice removed former Alabama Supreme Court justice now vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate, Christmas isn't the only thing coming in December.

Right now, December 12 is still slated to be judgment day for Roy Moore -- at the polls anyway.

But other kinds of judgment seem to be coming for the Republican much quicker now that a fifth woman has stepped forward to say he sexually harassed or assaulted her when she was 16.

Mitch McConnell on Monday joined a chorus of other lawmakers saying Moore should step out of the race.

Judgment for the accusers has been almost immediate, with Moore and his backers vilifying them, saying if their stories are true why did they hold onto them for decades?

Unfortunately, those questions are no surprise to the chief development officer of WEAVE.

"We are far more inclined to doubt a survivor than to turn around and look to the perpetrator and say 'why did you do this?'" said Julie Bornhoeft.

As the only rape crisis center in Sacramento County and a resource clearinghouse for people battling domestic violence, WEAVE's leaders say shame, fear of job loss and fear of worse abuse has kept victims from reporting what's happened to them.

With blistering attacks flying at the tidal wave of women coming forward to challenge the abusive behavior they allege against public figures like Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.,  Bornhoeft says imagine being a lone teenage voice speaking against an established, well-respected professional.

"When something's 30 to 40 years ago, it's not the same culture and context that we have today," she said.

And for those who would say a situation wasn't really serious if "it was just one grab or one comment," Bornhoeft has a pointed response.

"There's this attempt to say it's harassment versus assault versus rape...we're talking about a continuum of behavior rooted in power and control and rooted in taking advantage of that power structure," she said. "To start splitting hairs on that is another attempt to minimize what someone's experienced."

If you think you have been taken advantage of in a sexual way or are the victim of domestic violence, you can call WEAVE 24/7 hotline at (916) 920-2952.