The Crimson White

Assault victims should not be blamed

Leigh Terry

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Women’s issues, particularly those involving personal safety, have been at the forefront of the national discourse for months now. Because of this, I was surprised to open my Crimson White last Thursday and see an opinion column blaming victims of physical and sexual assault in its very title: “Truthful assault reporting crucial.”

Many young men have a deep fear of being falsely accused of assault and the accompanying ramifications for their reputation, but the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women estimates the percentage of false claims to be between 2 and 8 percent. Meanwhile, according to reports from the Department of Justice and the FBI, 40 out of every 100 sexual assaults are reported to police, 10 out of 100 lead to an arrest, and only three out of 100 lead to jail time.

Making victims feel comfortable reporting their assaults to authorities should be the highest priority of law enforcement agencies. Treating all victims like they are part of the 8 percent would increase the silence and would be another victory for their abusers.

Another point of contention for the column is this: “There is a gray area where there might not be enough information to prosecute an alleged offender, but not enough evidence to prosecute an accuser for false claims. This should not happen often.” 

This author would recommend prosecuting the 75 percent of assault reporters whose cases don’t end in an arrest. This would be like police telling a bank manager whose vault had been robbed that since they couldn’t find the robber, he should go to jail for making up the robbery.

Finally, the most offensive assertion in the column is this: “With the amount of resources available and what was at stake in the [Jameis] Winston case, someone should have been punished.” I sincerely hope that the stakes the author was referring to were finding the truth, making sure justice is served, protecting the accuser’s right to privacy and counseling and ensuring due process for all parties and not (as I fear he was referring to) Florida State’s national championship chances, Winston’s Heisman opportunity and his future draft stock.

Winston’s case proves why blaming the victim is so harmful: Winston is still enrolled at Florida State. His accuser is not.

Leigh Terry is a junior majoring in economics. Her column runs weekly.

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Assault victims should not be blamed