Election puts sex assault front and center

BTN11: Election puts sex assault front and center

MINNEAPOLIS - Donald Trump is denying claims from an increasing number of women who say he inappropriately touched them.

Trump supporters are crying foul, saying it's a political stunt. It's even spurred the hashtag #NextFakeTrumpVictim. Thousands of tweets accusing the victims of lying. Things like, “if you're a grown woman and raped please report to the police within 24 hours, not 24 years.”

Are these women telling the truth? Or, is this just another sad example of the state of our country during this election? What sexual assault advocates say is that even asking the question is part of the problem. We sat down with Kristen Houlton Sukura, Executive Director of Sexual Violence Center for her take on the issue…no politics involved.

“At the sexual violence center, I would say 9 out of 10 people we work with have not, and will not even consider reporting what has happened to them to law enforcement,” says Sukura.

Q: What are the reasons someone wouldn’t go to the police?

“It's not well understood that 85% of victims and survivors of sex assault know their perpetrators. 85%. And that means there's a much larger social context between them, than if we're talking about the myth of the stranger in the dark alley that jumps out of the bushes, why wouldn't someone want to report that?”

“What if you're reporting someone who you're economically dependent on? Or someone who you love is economically dependent on?”

“What if the person who perp the sex has had more power than you? They're high profile or they're in a position of authority over you. There can be a lot of other consequences to that.”

“Then just at the end of the day there's just the really unfair, unwarranted shame and stigma that is born by victims and survivors of sexual violence.”

Q: Why is that and who is causing that shame?

"It’s cultural, it's that we have this idea that if someone says they were assaulted, hmmm, we're going to give that a 50/50 as to whether that's true or not, which is interesting because when you look at, when someone says their wallet was stolen, we don't generally doubt that we sort of jump to, that's awful, how can we help?”

Q: Are there times that women or men would make up a story about this?

"It's always possible that someone's lying. I'm not going to sit here and say it's not possible there are a lot of reasons, people do falsely report to police, there are a lot of reasons for that, It's just that it's not very common. I've not actually personally experienced a case that involved that but I acknowledge that it can happen."

Q: How do we fix this problem?

“If people generally in society knew how common it is, there would be some kind of revolution we would rise up and say this is not okay. We're going to stop this right now, we're going to look at the messages our kids are seeing, through media or even learning in school. And, that starts the process of thinking about people as just objects and not worthy of dignity and respect and so taking something from them isn't really taking something from them."


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