HOW many more need to be sexually violated before we see the need for the issue of sexual violence to be taken seriously and treated with urgency?
How many more have to be raped, molested, sodomized, before we realise the magnitude of the crime?
How many of our women have to be taken advantage of before we punish the perpetrators of this crime?
What will it take to get the attention of the Government and the various agencies who deal with the victims of these crimes?
What will it take for the government to actually take a stance against all perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence?
Too often on the news, we hear, of the woman who was raped/gang raped, we hear of the little boy or girl who was brutalised, coerced, abused. We hear of the young women/men who were taken advantage of by adults, who should have known better.
What will it take for us to realise and accept that sexual violence is a serious issue affecting St. Lucia?
How many more will we allow to be hurt because we are too unwilling to take a stance against sexual violence and the perpetrators of this Crime?
Sexual Violence is a violation of the body and mind. It affects the individual to their very core, something that many don’t understand.
Our inability to understand what happens when one is sexually assaulted in any way, shape or form, creates an environment where sexual abusers blatantly take advantage of victims, where they have little fear of punishment, and are not held accountable for their crimes.
I have said this countless times: what a survivor of sexual violence goes through during their act is only the beginning, what follows is not only life altering but also lasts a lifetime.
It becomes a lifelong commitment to understand what triggers you and by that I mean, the things that happen in your daily life that may bring back memories of your assault. So much is remembered about the attack, about the attacker, about the reaction you received when you chose to speak up or seek help.
We would like to believe, or to fool ourselves into believing that sexual violence is something that happens and then the individual gets over it.
We desperately want to believe that so this crime isn’t classified as being heinous, so that we don’t feel the need to do more to aid survivors or address the current issues.
We find comfort in interrogating the victim of sexual and letting her abuser skate through.
We challenge her memory, her clothing choices, her sexual past, we push her until we raise enough doubt that the individual who committed the crime looks like there is a possibility that he has been wrongfully accused, that there was a case of mistaken identity, that there was potentially a mistake in the understanding of what really happened.
We have gotten to a place in 2018 where women all over the world are speaking out about the crimes committed against them, are they all lying, did they all get it wrong?
Why are we more worried about trying to prove that a victim is lying that to accept the reality that Sexual Violence happens, has happened for many years and will sadly continue to happen because we have chosen to ignore rather than punish, to praise and reward rather than hold accountable for their actions.
We have more women speaking out than ever on Sexual Violence and the stance taken by our leaders is to stand with the perpetrators.
The damage done to the individual seems irrelevant. The scars, physical and invisible are there whether you can see the or not.
There is no way to adequately explain what one deals with in the instant and every moment after. We accuse survivors of holding onto the past, of not wanting to forget or forgive.
We accuse them of wanting to seek sympathy, attention or revenge. Survivors don’t want to remember or “hold onto the past”, in fact many survivors spend a great deal of their lives trying not to remember.
Survivors who speak out/share their stories are not looking for sympathy or attention or revenge; it has and is taking a lot from them to speak up and out about what they suffered, they are not looking for a sorry from you or attention from anyone; they are trying to rebuild and take back what was taken from them; their voice.
They are not trying to get back at their abuser; they are letting the abuser know I will no longer keep your secret, I am no longer afraid of you. They are taking a step, reliving it all to protect potential victims.
We have to acknowledge that sexual violence is a problem in St. Lucia. We have to want to address the issue, to want to protect the vulnerable and the innocent?
Sexual Violence damages any and every individual it touches. Let us begin to act now, let us educate the youth and adults alike on sexual violence.
Let us ask that better training be implemented for those dealing with survivors/victims, let us demand better laws and harsher punishment for perpetrators of this crime.
Let us validate those who have been sexually violated.
Let us condemn those who sexually violate.
Let us do whatever is necessary to reduce the number of people being violated in our country.
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 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, and 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:
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence
Email: [email protected] – [email protected]
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)