There isn’t anything funny or comical about rape or someone’s body being violated. There is something reprehensible about bystanders witnessing the violation of another human being and failing to say or do anything to stop it. Think India. Think Steubenville, Ohio. Think most college campuses.

So often, we blame victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, who are disproportionately women, for crimes that happen to them. Victims are described as dumb, stupid, promiscuous, irresponsible, lacking self-esteem, or enjoying the violence…

What we don’t talk about out loud is how victims are treated by friends, family members and even first responders who fail to recognize that victims first need to be believed. Validation sets the scene for how victims will heal and whether or not they pursue legal action. Our job is not to figure out how it happened, but to respond without blame or judgment and connect victims to resources. Victim trauma left untreated can affect survivors for the rest of their lives in physical and psychological ways.
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