On TV, the plot looks something like this: a woman is raped or abused. She is a sympathetic character, traumatized yet brave. She reports the crime to the police, who perform a detailed forensic investigation and arrest the perpetrator. A trial ensues, and the survivor steps forward to tell her story. She wins over the jury, and the perpetrator is sentenced to years in jail.
Sometimes, life comes close to this narrative. In 2016, for example, the survivor of the Stanford rape case authored a powerful victim impact statement that captured the country’s attention and, undoubtedly, helped ensure jailtime for the perpetrator.
But most of the time, for most survivors, reality looks quite different than Law and Order, SVU. The vast majority — 69% — of sexual assaults go unreported to the police, and only 0.7% of all sexual assaults result in a conviction.