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“The New Normal: It Didn’t Really Happen, Get Over It”

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PROSAF — Surviving Sexual Abuse In The Caribbean By Souyenne Dathorne

WE ask that they look the other way, we ask that they pretend that it didn’t happen to them; that their father, mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, friend did not sexually violate them in some way.

That the shock of what has been done to their bodies is secondary to the need to protect the perpetrator and the victim’s family’s reputation. Some of our children work up the courage to share their stories with us, they find the courage to sit and tell us what was done to them and instead we ask them to forget about it, to put it behind them, to pretend it didn’t happen, to protect their abuser, to protect the family.

You try to stitch the family back together by pretending that it never happened. This is always based on the fact that you, the ones she/he trusted to protect and support her/him, is asking that she/he take one for the team.

You’re asking her/him to pretend that nothing happened and that she/he has nothing to be angry about. You’re asking her/him to put aside all the pain and suffering.

You are asking to fraternize with the individual who took advantage. The individual who no doubt told them, that no one would believe them and that no one would do anything.

You are attempting to hide the fact that you may feel ashamed or embarrassed that your child was sexually assaulted. When there is no shame in someone being the victim of a crime.

You would share the details of your child when robbed of their materials, but find it shameful to stand with your child when they are robbed of their childhood, their sense of self, their right to safety, their right to say no, their right to be treated like a human being.

Is your image more really important than your child’s life, than their pain and suffering? Are you willing to risk their life to protect your ego?

Why is it so easy to sweep crimes of this nature under the rug, why do we worry more about how we, the secondary victims are affected and less about how the primary victim is coping, or what they have been through?

There is something very worrying about wanting a survivor/victim to immediately forgive a man/woman who forced, coerced or tricked your child into some form of sexual act. Rape, Incest, Molestation are all acts that we know are inherently wrong, we show our concern for the victims who suffer from acts of sexual violence when those persons are far removed, however, when the victim is a friend or relative, we punish them for putting us through their pain and suffering.

Sexually violent crimes seem to be the only crime where the survivor/victim is not only blamed, but then punished for the crimes committed against them.

Asking your child to forgive, to bury, to ignore, to forget, opens their wounds larger, it causes the damage to be magnified. Their trust and belief in people is lost. Their sense of security has not only been taken from them once when attacked but it has now been stomped on by you.

We are unable to empathize with our children, our friends, our relatives who have fallen victim to this crime because no matter what we thought of them before, once they have been attacked, it was because they did something to cause this and therefore not only don’t deserve our support but also we choose to instead empathize with their abusers.

I am asking that we stop sweeping this under the rug, that we stop punishing survivors of sexual assault.

I am asking that we do more, that you all do more to help survivors of sexual violence in St.Lucia.

I am asking that you take the time to understand crimes of this nature and how the victims are affected before rushing to judgment.

I am asking that you understand the type of individual who commits crimes of this nature and the fact that there is rarely ever one victim.

Survivors of sexual assault need a supportive environment to begin the healing process. They need to believe and feel that they are part of a culture that doesn’t support individuals who commit sexual crimes.

We have to be the difference we want to see in our country. We have to be willing to start to make a change.

We, at PROSAF, have acknowledged that violence against women is a problem in St.Lucia and the wider Caribbean.

We are here to begin the metamorphosis that is desperately needed. We are always here to listen and if you are not ready to come forward but need a listening ear, feel free to contact us.

Remember that Sexual assault is something that happens to people, it does not define them, it is something that was done to them. Survivors, Victims, Thrivers remember you are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own.

You are not guilty of any crime, something was done to you against your will Sexual Assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you.

You are worthy of love and happiness. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of.

We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all.

KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF.

If you are interested in finding out more information about sexual violence and what you can do as part of this community, please feel free to contact us at:

Yours Sincerely,
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence
Email: ssaitco@hotmail.com – thepowerofone_v@hotmail.com
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (under construction)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel)

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