We Stand With Survivors

Friday, September 21, 2018

We Stand With Survivors

The Victim Rights Law Center has represented thousands of sexual assault victims throughout our 15-year history, and has provided support to tens of thousands of lawyers, advocates, medical forensic examiners, and other first responders. The President’s tweet that if a sexual assault “was as bad as [the victim] says, charges would have been immediately filed” is inconsistent with the experiences of survivors we represent each day. In fact, U.S. Department of Justice data demonstrates that most victims of rape and sexual assault do not report to law enforcement. Even when victims do report, most cases do not result in prosecution, conviction, and incarceration. Nationally, more than 80% of sexual assault victims do not report to law enforcement because of the stigma, threats of retaliation, and victim blaming.

We cannot continue to perpetuate myths of how victims of rape “should” respond. The attacks on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are, by extension, attacks on the millions of survivors in this country who must decide, daily, whether and when to risk their lives, safety, privacy, and dignity by disclosing their experiences of sexual assault. That Dr. Ford – as a teenager – did not go to law enforcement does not speak to her credibility. It speaks to the consistent and unrelenting scrutiny that sexual assault victims experience when they come forward. This reality, coupled with the deep stigma that continues to surround survivors of sexual assault, is what silences victims.

We cannot afford to turn the national discussion away from whether Judge Kavanaugh’s alleged crimes should be fully investigated by trained law enforcement personnel before he is appointed to a lifetime position on the U.S. Supreme Court. We cannot afford to judge victims’ credibility on discredited notions of what “real victims” do. Sexual violence is a nonpartisan issue. For the sake of the Court and for the health of the nation, we must seek out the truth. We must speak the truth.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sexual violence.