a message from President & CEO Jeff Mortensen
Every 73 seconds, a person is sexually assaulted in the United States, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The majority of sexual assaults are never reported to police, and for those that are, only 5 out of every 1,000 rapists end up in prison. More must be done to address this injustice, and it can start with your attention and commitment to recognizing victim-blaming in its many forms.
Too often in our society, the reasons a sexual assault occurred are cast in terms of the victim’s choices. This flawed line of thinking asks: What were you wearing? Did you flirt? Were you drinking? Consider how victims of sexual assault are treated differently from other victims of crime. For instance, if someone is a victim of theft, we rarely or never ask them why they left their door unlocked, or why they allowed their purse or wallet to be visible, or why they had so many credit cards or cash on them, or if they had been drinking. It’s nonsense. So, why do we victim-blame survivors of sexual assault?
Instead, we need to ask questions that focus on the perpetrator. Examples include: Why did the person feel justified in their behavior? Why didn’t the abuser recognize their crime? Why wasn’t the rapist deterred by societal norms? How did the legal system hold the perpetrator accountable? This is the line of thinking that leads to justice and the types of systemic change that we desire. Unfortunately, we have work to do.