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Karen Rain: Questions stigma resulting from sexual assault

  • mactrunk


Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Questions stigma resulting from sexual assault

Thank you for publishing “#MeToo in the Valley, too” (Oct. 23). I agree that solving the problem needs to happen on a societal level.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, only “no meant no.” Now there is the California “yes means yes” law. Many colleges have adopted a policy of zero tolerance for nonconsensual sex. Imagine the impact if all organizations implemented this policy.

Survivors have plenty to worry about even if their story is believed. There are too many insidious and pervasive attitudes that shame and stigmatize victims, which protects perpetrators.

The language we use is loaded with judgment against victims. It minimizes sexual assault/harassment. It normalizes harmful behavior. This is how we ended up with a president who boasts about sexual assault.

We need to value victims who have the courage to speak up. Saying I was a victim of sexual assault/harassment emphasizes my innocence, and places the responsibility on the party who had the power during those events.

If your house was robbed, would you feel shame in talking about it or calling yourself a victim of robbery? Would you report it to the police? If you discovered that one of your friends had been a victim of robbery, would you think of them or treat them differently?

Would you if you discovered that they had been a victim of sexual assault/abuse? Why should someone feel shame about being a victim of sexual assault? Why do so many cases of sexual assault go unreported? Why is there a stigma?

Karen Rain

Amherst