April is an important month where I work and one that makes me proud to be doing the work that I do. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 19-25.
Today was the day the County Commissioners read a Proclamation recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) gave some powerful statements and scenarios I would like to share with you. He urged those in attendance to change the way we view sexual assault. Society’s focus is frequently on the victim–what could the victim have done differently, what was the victim wearing, if the victim was drinking, etc. You get the picture. Following are some of the scenarios he gave:
Scenario #1: You’re at a football game, standing in line to get a beer and wearing your team’s jersey. Someone comes from behind and tackles you. What if the answer to your call for help was, “Well, you were drinking and wearing your team jersey. What did you expect?”
Scenario #2: You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed and thrown around. You have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The cops are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”
Scenario #3: You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress comes over and asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more and engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”
As one who has been a victim of sexual assault, these scenarios empowered me and gave me a sense of victory. And for one who works with victims of crime, they gave me pride to be doing the work I do. We can rise above our circumstances and life events. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down, but rather we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale