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Who Is Your Silence Protecting?

There must be a way to discuss crime while respecting victims.

When you hear a story or rumor about a sexualized crime or domestic violence, but do not read it in any reputable news media, what are you to think? That it did not actually happen? It was just a vicious lie, or it is all a private, personal matter that cannot be discussed publicly?

If someone broke into my house and stole from me, it would be reported in local news outlets whether I want it there or not. If someone who lived in my house with me hit or raped me, would anyone read about it?

What message does this send to the victim, and to other victims who have not yet told anyone? What I hear is: my experience doesn’t matter. No one wants to know.

Supposedly, police do not want to release any information that would identify a victim of a sexualized crime or domestic violence. But only the victim can speak for herself and decide what information she wants shared with the public. The police should create a policy that respects victims rather than one that presumes the victim will be ashamed and embarrassed. Each individual should be treated as an individual, rather than silenced based on presumptions.

Another excuse that is used by police when they do not discuss sexualized violence and rape is that because the criminal targeted a specific individual who the rapist knew, no one else is at risk.

We are all at risk. Anyone can be raped by a stranger, by someone they know or someone they love.

In The United States of America, one-sixth of all women have been victims of rape or attempted rape.[1]

Approximately two-thirds of these attacks were committed by someone known to the victim. [2]

One in four women in the United States has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.[3]

Approximately one in five female high school students reported being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.[4]

Everyday, three women and one man are murdered by their spouse or intimate partner[5].

But if we only relied on the crime reports we read in the media, would we know that any of this happens? How can we fight a crime that is barely discussed?

When we remain silent about a crime that impacts so many of us, who are we protecting: the victims or a rape culture that blames victims?


[1] National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.

[2] U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.

[3] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July 2000. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999.

[4] Jay G. Silverman, PhD; Anita Raj, PhD; Lorelei A. Mucci, MPH; and Jeanne E. Hathaway, MD, MPH, “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 286, No. 5, 2001

[5] Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Christine Sampson November 29, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Thanks for submitting this blog post. We have published a brief regarding the rumors of an alleged violent crime in our area, which police have not confirmed. Please see this link: http://threevillage.patch.com/articles/police-unable-to-confirm-attack-rumors


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