Friday, April 1, 2011

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Redux

Thank you, Thank you to all who work to end sexual violence against women, children, and men.

Below is an excerpt from a Wendy Murphy column-- and since she is speaking to men, here is a great link for men on this issue:

THESE GUYS ARE REAL HEROES!  By Wendy Murphy For the Patriot Ledger  April 2010

Each April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I like to use this column to give a shout out to people who are making a difference.
This year, kudos to the guys.
Faced with near daily reminders in news stories that we live in a society so ineffective at punishing sex offenders that law abiding citizens have to live in fear, men are finally as fed up as women and they’re getting involved.
More on the guys later.
The criminal justice system deserves most of the blame for why criminals enjoy more liberty than victims. The vast majority of victims either don't report sex crimes or resist testifying in court because the burdens of the system are too often unbearable.  For example, aside from a pittance of a “witness fee”, the system
demands that victims and family members spend money out of their own pockets to achieve justice. From buying lunch and paying for parking during trial, to losing a day's pay waiting to be called as a witness
or footing the bill to travel back and forth from home to the location of the trial, the literal cost of participating in the legal process is painful. Emotional costs can be even worse. 
Child victims are often made to testify without their parents in the courtroom because defense attorneys put mom and dad on the witness list, then file motions to "sequester" all witnesses. They never actually call mom or dad to testify but making sure they get booted out of the courtroom means the traumatized child is forced to take the stand to confront her attacker, alone.
Testifying without a support person in the room is often so frightening, the victim will either refuse to testify or her testimony will come across as timid and hesitant, which can undermine credibility.
I'll put a Murphy's Law spin on an old saying to emphasize the point: It's a good thing Lady Justice is blind because she would not like what she sees happening to victims in our nation’s courtrooms.
Tom and Stacey Branchini certainly didn't like what they saw after
daughter Alexa was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her
freshman dorm. The guy was captured and will spend most of his life
behind bars, but because the trial process was nearly as harmful as the
crime itself, Alexa's family started the
"It Happened to Alexa"  Foundation to protect other victims from the same fate.
... It's bad enough that a woman or child has suffered what the Supreme Court has called "the most severe insult to the self, short of murder".  A civilized legal system should comfort victims, not add to their
suffering. The rights of the accused are important, but the noble cause of protecting liberty is not furthered by the gratuitous infliction of additional pain on the innocent.

The way justice is done matters even to those who will never step foot in a criminal courtroom because the integrity of the process is a measure of how much we value civility in larger society. If the system
treats victims with fairness, the public will respect the process and honor its results. But if victims are mistreated, even fair results will be viewed through a cynical lens - spawning contempt for law and
incivility in human relations.

Most of us can understand what's at stake, but few take the time to get involved. Those who do get involved tend to be women because sexual violence disproportionately affects females. For a crime committed
mostly by men, there’s little hope things will get better unless men actively become part of the solution...
Groups like “Men Against Sexism” and “” understand the important role of males in prevention and are being embraced as leaders in the fight against sexual violence...

to read the rest of her column, and others, you can go to


and HERE

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