February 8, 2010

Getting it right

Posted in Child Sexual Abuse, Current Events, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming at 9:51 pm by sacetalks

Reading through news stories about sexual violence, the number of negative stories can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to see where we will ever find an end to rape culture when everyone from reporters and columnists to police and judges can make blaming, shaming comments about survivors. Sometimes, the voices of people who get it are drowned out by those who don’t.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to read a story where someone got it right. Judge Patricia Cumming is one of those people. In a recent court case in Burton, NB, she addressed the nine-year-old survivor directly:

“You are not responsible for anything that happened. You were nine years old … Telling was the right thing to do.”

“I don’t want you to just hear these words. I want you to understand and accept them.”

In a world where so many people tell survivors of sexual violence that what happened to them was somehow their fault, these are potent words, particularly from someone who holds a position vested with so much power and authority. Her words have the potential for resonance and healing, not only for the girl in this case but for other survivors who might read Cumming’s statement. With so many situations where people in authority do it wrong, it’s refreshing to read a reminder that there are also people who recognize that survivors are not to blame for what other people do.

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