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Don Lemon on Why Survivors Don't Always Report Sexual Assault


The out CNN anchor said his own story and that of a loved one show why survivors don't immediately come forward.

Discussing the difficulty in reporting sexual assault, out CNN anchor Don Lemon Monday revisited his own story of victimization and teared up as he revealed that a loved one had recently confided in him that she had been a victim too.

He addressed the topic on CNN Tonightin light of the second sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the fact that many politicians, including Donald Trump, have expressed doubts about the accusers' veracity because they didn't report the assaults earlier.

Lemon noted that assault survivors often ask themselves whether it will "even matter" if they open up about what's happened to them. "Part of it is fear; part of it is doubt," he said. "Will I be believed, will I be blamed, will I have evidence, will everyone judge me, and if I speak out, will it even matter?"

He was sexually assaulted as a child, he said, and didn't tell even his mother until he was 30 years old. He first spoke about his assault on CNN eight years ago when reporting on allegations that Atlanta-area minister Eddie Long had abused young men in his congregation.

He used his story to bolster his argument that it is complicated for survivors to share stories of assault and each person goes through this process in their own way. "It isn't always a police phone call and a rape kit," he said.

The most emotional part of the segment came when Lemon recounted that someone close to him told him last week about having been sexually assaulted by a boyfriend years ago. He teared up as he told viewers the reason she hadn't told him earlier.

"Shame," she replied with one word.

Lemon then urged his viewers to consider one last question as Kavanaugh and his accusers give their accounts. "Are we interested in truth? Are we interested in healing? Or is there, as there always seems to be these days, a political game being played with people's lives?"

He ended by noting sexual assault statistics -- that every 98 seconds in the U.S., someone is a victim of such an assault -- and encouraging survivors to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline. (800) 656- HOPE.

Watch the video below.

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