THERE is a callous attitude displayed when speaking about and discussing sexual violence and how survivors have been affected.
We ask insensitive questions and make ignorant remarks. How can she possible remember what was done to her, she was no older than three. Well, she had a part to play in the continuation of her abuse because she never said anything to anyone about it. Hmm, I hear what she is saying, that someone forced themselves on her, but she must be lying, he would never do a thing like that. She wants to get him in trouble this is payback for breaking up with her, etc.
Continuously we hear girls who have been sexually violated asked what they did to cause what was done to them. They are told they participated in their violation, or are fabricating the events or are speaking but could not possibly have the memories to support their claims.
I have asked this question repeatedly through my articles, why is that survivors of sexual violence are continuously interrogated for the crimes committed against them? When will we stop searching for excuses for perpetrators of sexual violence? What does it say about a nation and its future when they are both unable to face the facts about sexual violence but also unable to do what is required to effectively address the issue?? It says that soon we have a nation of victims/survivors who have gotten no help and are still broken. It says we have a country where perpetrators know they can get away with their crimes. It says we continue to have a nation of insensitive uneducated people on the topic of sexual violence. It says that sooner rather than later our country will be known as a place where people are violated and the survivors/victims never receive justice. We are a nation that depends heavily on tourism, I don’t think we can handle any more bad press.
I am not trying to scare anyone but to paint a picture of the inevitable. Our boys believe they have a right to take what they want from a woman when they want; they have been taught to justify their actions. They have been taught this by us every-time we justify their actions, every-time we blame the girl for the man’s decision to force himself on her, to ignore her pleas of NO, to take her prepubescent innocence as a seduction, to take her near comatose state as an invitation to engage in sexual intercourse.
Our girls have been told that when violated they will be blamed regardless of the situation. They have been told that even if they say NO; that response will be rationalized to mean YES (she says no but is being spiteful, she really wants me to) Our survivors are constantly challenged on their memories of the event/events and their actions and reactions after. Our society, is ill prepared and ill educated to address sexual violence. We can’t sit back and continue to do nothing and hope things change. We need awareness, education, sensitivity, training, resources, aid. We need to acknowledge the issue of sexual violence and do what is necessary to address it effectively.
We are asking that you join us, that you demand the things you want from your government, from the agencies in charge. Demand and hold them accountable. But also, hold yourself accountable for your lack of action, for your belief that by sitting back someone else will do it. We rally together for many things, let this be one. Don’t let Sexual Violence continue to break the youth and destroy our women. Women are a vital part of this world, they deserve respect, they deserve to be safe, they deserve to be treated like human beings, like adults. If you are a survivor interested in joining a support and validation group please contact us. If you are interested in being a victim advocate please contact us. Sexual Violence on island needs to be taken more seriously.
SouyenneDathorne, Velika Lawrence
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Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(Vel)