So, I’ve been reading a lot about the Stanford sexual assault case. The victim’s testimony broke my heart (all the sexual assault content warnings. But the letter, start to finish, is an important read)
I read horrifically uninformed and callous defense put forth by the perpetrator’s father.
And people are out for blood. Which I get. As I’ve said in my classes multiple times, there are some circumstances where if you are not angry, you are not paying attention. At the same time, I know that as viscerally gratifying as it is to publicly shame the perpetrator, it doesn’t actually accomplish anything.
Even as I feel sorrow and anger for the victim and her family, Brene Brown’s words resound in my ear. She reminds me at I have to practice what I preach. Especially when it is hardest to do so.
This situation is a painful reminder to me that sometimes, you can hold someone’s feet to the fire, you can name their actions, and they still cannot or will not own up to the harm that they inflicted on another human being. All of the Internet pitchfork mobs in the world will not bring him closer to hat realization. Nor will public shaming undo the damage he inflicted on the victim and her family.
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, this knowledge doesn’t make the anger any less present. I feel helpless and small in the face of injustice.
So, here is how I intend to channel my discomfort and shame. I’m not going to tell anyone else what they should and should not do, because that’s just not how I roll.
I see a flawed justice system that is ill equipped to effectively handle sexual assault cases. The way these cases are litigated do not account for how accusers may be shamed and re-traumatized. Survivors are also at an inherent disadvantage during cross examination, because of how trauma impacts memory and the brain. I want to advocate for reform of the system. I intend to support organizations that support survivors and survivor advocacy.
I will continue my education around abuse response within community, and work to build community structures where people can be held accountable for their actions. I will work to educate younger generations about the importance of consent culture, and empower them to dismantle the toxic social constructs that perpetuate silence and shame.
It’s not much, in the grand scheme of things. But it’s all I have to offer.
Who wants to share this work with me?
If you are angry and feeling a little bit helpless, are there things you can do to maybe move the needle in a constructive direction?