If you receive my newsletter, you know that I had another topic in mind for this article. And though the article is late, I still wanted to post it. Now, on to the topic. This week I wanted to discuss the aftermath for the victims of sexual assault. This is something that has been on my heart these past couple of days. We know what happens to the accused after a case has been brought against them. Either they are prosecuted for their crimes or set free. But have we considered what happens to the victim? What happens to the lives of the people that are strong enough to tell what has happened to them?
You already know that for every offender we hear about, there is a victim or victims we don’t. What happens to them? I’ve read countless articles about how the victim is ridiculed and punished for even coming forward. They are blamed for wrecking the life of their attacker. How is that even possible?
Now, let me explain, I’m not talking about false claims of sexual assault. I’m talking about the real cases, real victims. The men and women who have to see their attackers in class and on campus. The harassment some victims go through sometimes leads to suicide. Do you have any idea what type of weight that puts on the victims? The school gives the attacker a slap on the wrist, other students have their backs, and everyone blames the victim for speaking up. How does that make sense?
I’ve even seen videos of interviews where some students were saying that the victims only wanted attention. That the accused was only being a guy and shouldn’t be punished for that. These types of sentiments are what’s wrong. What about sympathy for what the victim is going through? This is the worst time of their lives? What about wanting the attacker to pay for they have done?
You find this type of thinking gets worse if they the accused is an athlete. The women who come out are, as I said before, called attention seeking. And I understand that we all don’t think alike, but what happened to compassion for a person whose world has been turned upside down? Does anyone think of how hard it is for the victim? Because even though we have sympathy for them, our thoughts tend to fade just as it fades for the accused. Basically, as soon as we forget the attacker, we forget the victim. And that has to change.
Remember that their lives have been changed forever. Everyone knows or should know that nothing is the same after a sexual assault. The victims sense of safety and trust are gone. And to make things worse, they have to face their abuser daily or be bullied by others. Please understand that the victim is not in the wrong. They didn’t ask for it, nor did they want attention; no one wants this type of attention. Ever! If you know of someone who has been assaulted, please contact the Title IX coordinator on your campus.