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Victim shaming is not a winning strategy

By Fred . . . Research shows that between 2% and 10% of reported sexual assaults are false accusations. Even though the exact percentages cannot be known and could be higher – or lower – this is a fair estimate.  It is certainly very troubling that this happens, and there is no doubt that many innocent people have been wrongfully accused and punished for crimes they did not commit. However, these same statistics also show that between 90% and 98% of reported sexual assaults are not false accusations, and regardless of whether the actual numbers are higher or lower, it is clear that actual incidents of sexual abuse far outweigh incidents of false accusations.

To automatically take the position that women who come forward with sexual assault allegations are lying is not a winning strategy and can actually cause more harm for our movement than good. The low rate of false accusations is very close to the low rate of recidivism for those convicted of sexual offenses, which is one of NARSOL’s arguments against the registry laws. If we were to say that the number of false accusations is a significant percentage that discredits the majority of true accusations, we would be hypocrites for suggesting, as we do, that the low percentage of recidivism is significant.

Besides advocating for change to the sexual offense and registry laws that we believe to be both morally wrong and unconstitutional, NARSOL also promotes personal growth and healing for those convicted of sexual offenses as well as for the victims of sexual abuse by encouraging a supportive and validating environment for all who may be connected to these issues in any way.

Victims of sexual abuse everywhere should be able to come forward when they are ready to do so and be free of criticism and reprisal. The decision of when and how to come forward is a personal one that only the victim should be able to make for him or herself, regardless of whether it was immediately or decades after the abuse took place.

It is the responsibility of all decent people to withhold judgment and listen to alleged victims with compassion. By following that basic rule of decency, we would not only be helping them find peace and begin healing, but we would also be reinforcing the message to future victims that it is always safe to report the abuse immediately through the proper channels where they will be taken seriously and, IF an investigation supports their narratives, where the abusers will be held accountable.

NARSOL advocates for rational, fact-based laws that serve to promote public safety. We believe that the punishment should fit the crime and that those convicted of sexual offenses should have the same opportunities as those convicted of other crimes to move past their convictions and reenter society after they have served their time and thus become contributing members of their communities.

It is important for registrants who have committed harm to acknowledge and take personal responsibility for past harmful behaviors. When they show compassion and support for victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault who were brave enough to come forward amid potential backlash, they are effectively demonstrating that those convicted of sexual offenses truly can grow and correct the errors in their ways and that there is no rational reason to fear them. This helps to erase the stereotypical views and create a healthy and safe environment for all.

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Fred

Fred began volunteering with NARSOL in the summer of 2016 as a gatekeeper and correspondent. Later he became involved with the tech committee to help with the development and maintenance of our many website projects. He devotes much of his time to helping the team ensure that NARSOL's operations are running as smoothly as possible so that we can continue to grow and reach more people.

This topic contains 10 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  WC_TN 1 day, 2 hours ago.

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  • #47561 Reply

    d

    The burden of proof is supposed to be on the state this is the law. Convicting someone of a crime that will destroy or end their lives without proof is a crime against humanity just as much as the suspected crime to the same degree. I will not assume a woman is telling the truth and I will not assume they are a liar ether this is how it is supposed to go. Too often men are destroyed by accusations alone so if it ruffles some feathers for me to be skeptical at first I do not care. I read every appeal that gets reversed in Indiana every day. I read this in my appeals opinions today and it really hit me hard our court system is no longer following the constitution in regards to sex crimes it already has happened. The below quote is from a case in Indiana today.

    “A conviction can be
    sustained on only the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness, even when
    that witness is the victim.” Bailey v. State, 979 N.E.2d 133, 135 (Ind. 2012).

    If you read this and you are a man you better grow a pair and join the fight or you too will lose it all someday!

    • #47583 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek
      Admin

      “I will not assume a woman is telling the truth and I will not assume they are a liar ether this is how it is supposed to go.” Good. That is exactly what this piece is saying. No where does it say anyone making an accusation should be believed automatically. It says they should be respected, listened to, and then the case should be investigated. This is not intended to pit man against woman nor woman against man but rather to encourage mutual respect for all.

      • #47601 Reply

        Glen

        Sandy,

        I think you summarized it well and I agree somewhat, but frankly am shocked at NARSOLs position here. To be straightforward, there is a movement right now that suggests Americans set aside the presumption of innocence of the accused, burden of proof, and due process based on the lone presented statistic that would indicate sexual assault allegations are 92%-98% always true. Such a suggestion, in my opinion is neither objective, constructive, nor fair to the judicial process at all. Yes, it apears that most allegations are accurate; but hardly all are.

        Regardless, for example, if statistics indicated that 99% of alleged burglary victims file accurate reports, should we then take that into account when judging the accused with regards to burglary at a jury trial? 99 out of 100 are guilty? . so then what…the suggestion is that Americans err on the side of caution as jurors…guilty, if accused. How does that help the innocent? How does that help justice? How does that help real victims?

        The presentation of such a fact (I’m not sure yet frankly, that it’s accurate, however) that lets say 98% sexual assault claims are true, I would then argue such a presentation infects and potentially may affect the ability of jurers to weigh evidence against the accused especially not without presenting evidence of false allegallegations with regards to othercrimes. Would any reasonable judge allow that statement by a prosecutor? “Ladies, and Gentlemen of the jury, be advised that it is a well known fact based on statistical evidence that all allegations of sexual assault are 98% accurate…”

        This is not ok at all.

        No more so …than permitting prosecutors the ability to present to a jury “Statistics indicate that 100% of all Americans speed and break motor vehicle laws and police are 99% truthful when issuing citations” before prosecuting a case of speeding. Each case is unique. And neither the state, alleged victim, nor the accused should arrive with these kind of preconceived nor prejudged discriminations. Should we take this same approachieve with all capital crimes too? Afterall, aren’t most guilty. Nevermind the multitudes freed by the innocence project that have come to light thank God.

        I’ll be honest…If this is youre and NARSOLs stance here, Im affraid I will have to reconsider my support. I find this extremely very offensive to the notion of the presumption of innocence, and frankly in the face of the constitution of the United States for which we all currently find severe grievances.

        Yes, alleged victims deserved to be heard and treated respectfully. They deserve their day in court, their right to present evidence against the accused, and their right to be part of punishment of the guilty, but that does not mean in any way they have a right to be believed upon an allegation absent any firm evidence. Nor, does that however negate any due process of the accused or concicted. My issue with this is, as presented, suggests we believe all accusers based on statistics. Is that your position?

        If you’re simply saying please respect an accuser that comes forward, ok…I can do that, and that’s fair until evidence suggests otherwise. No one is attacking victims here. Our issue is with the constitution. But, this article reads very much like a metoo movement peice…if youre suggesting that we bow down even more and forfeit more of the concepts of the constitution (which appears to be the case) than we argueably already have, I -and those Ive urged to participate here- will bow out now out of respectfull disagreement.

        Can you please elaborate NARSOLs exact position regarding this situation? This is very important.

        Respectfully,

        Glen

        • #47605 Reply
          Sandy Rozek
          Sandy Rozek
          Admin

          NARSOL does not and will never advocate for setting aside the presumption of innocence of the accused, the burden of proof being on the state, nor due process guaranteed in the Constitution. Never.
          We agree. Nothing you say in all of those paragraphs about percentages is okay at all, and nothing written in this piece suggests that it is.
          You are reading things into what Fred wrote that it does not say, that he did not intend, and that NARSOL does not believe.
          What in the piece leads you to the conclusion that it advocates that all believers be believed based on statistics…or based on anything? Did you note the words ” if an investigation supports their narratives”? I am editing that now to IF so that it will not be overlooked.
          How much clearer could it be? Those making accusations should be listened to with respect regardless of when their claims are made. However, evidence alone, in strict keeping with due process, should cause a claim to be believed. Please remember that testimony is evidence. After a great many years, evidence is lost, memories change and are lost, witnesses have died or are not available. It is for those reasons that statutes of limitation exist, and NARSOL firmly believes in statutes of limitation.
          Please do not read into our op/ed pieces that which is not there. And thank you for your support.

  • #47610 Reply

    Glen

    For the record, I respect Fred, his opinion and all others who present here. I also very much respect and appreciate the work that NARSOL has done.

    My concern is conflicted very much by the honorable intent that the metoo movement brings foward, yet the hypocrisy of its motto in believe all (yet, not those against democrats) and its contrary philosophy which undermine the very constitution that we especially, in fact, insist our society abides.

    Respect accusers? Ok, no problem…until theyre allegations dont hold water. Many even most perhaps will, but some wont. Believe accusers from the very onset… no I wont. We are directed to presume innocence until reasonable doubt is presented. What is reasonable doubt? Wiki says it’s this…This means that the proposition being presented by the prosecution must be proven to the extent that there could be no “reasonable doubt” in the mind of a “reasonable person” that the defendant is guilty.

    Webster says this….. A reasonable doubt exists when a factfinder cannot say with moral certainty that a person is guilty or a particular fact exists. It must be more than an imaginary doubt, and it is often defined judicially as such doubt as would cause a reasonable person to hesitate before acting in a matter of importance.

    Both definitions are arguably vague. But there is a reason for its vagueness that the founders considered. 12 jurors on a court will interpret this definition based on their own moral conscience when there may remain reasonable questions regarding guilt. They all must overcome their conscience and in doing so requires a leap of conviction torward the accused that satisfies each individuals own conscience. Ultamately there are 12 that must agree on guilt. Clearly, the founders thought it best to err on the benefit of doubt – out of respect for the innocent. They considered themselves enlightened, and they understood what Voltaire meant….

    Now, reverse that notion, and our belief in American justice and the whole judicial system folds. The presumption of the accused now becomes guilty; the accuser is exhalted and always believed…a trial by jury pointless; a waste of time. Mete out punishment upon accusation…afterall, the stats indicate Kavanaugh is most likely…95% guilty of the offense alledged. Hell, let’s forego due process too. Put him on the registry…

    Back where we started almost 300 years ago….full circle.

  • #47613 Reply

    Glen

    Sandy,

    Thank you for clearing that up. True, testimony is evidence, albeit arguably weak on its own without further evidence or witness corraboration; and arguably even much more so as time passes. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, nor am I suggesting that statements regarding old alledged crimed are false. Truth is though, we don’t know til we know…

    And, I’m 100% for getting to that point of knowledge…and doing so in a mutally respectful, just, and fair manner in accordance with our constitution for both the accuser and -also- the accused until the point of verdict and after proof has been presented. The table at that time. atleast for me, turns on evidence, reasonable doubt and perhaps even circumstances. I won’t judge a case based on an inital accusation or some statistical support. Each case, each victim, each circumstance, each perpetrator is unique.

    Thank you for the opportunity to express my view here.

    Respectfully,

    Glen

  • #47624 Reply

    Saddles

    I have to agree on Fred and Sandy’s point of view.Victim shaming is one of the worst seneiro’s and since we are all in this class in one way or another, where victimless or victim we tend to be disgraced by juris prudence. Are we all mislead by following the yellow brick road. Sure NARSOL is fighting for us and challenging these obstacles, but when proof is over shadowed by facts or unconstitutional law, than who is to cry out, or speak up, and say foul. The burden of proof is everything or who cussed out their congreesman and was embarrassed or ashamed after the fact. So where is the middle ground.

    • #47721 Reply

      Glen

      Saddles,

      I agrree that victim shaming is not ok. Its wrong. It’s repugnant; but no less morally wrong then shaming a potentially innocent person, and their family with a heinous crime.

      This article is particularly relevant now due in large part to perceived treatment that Dr. Ford has experienced. And, she has been treated disrespectfully. O agree. And, I would argue so has the accused this having not been addressed criminally…even still now.

      My apology to anyone I’ve offended by my view, but my thought is still that…as hard as it may be…allegations such as these warrant difficult questions to both sides. Additionally, and while perhaps statistically less (I’m not sure yet) false accusations of this magnitude can destroy people and families on both sides.

      For the most part, I agree with the articles premise. But the issue I had, is that this same premise is currently being used by movements that suggest we void the concept of innocence until proven guilty. Neither Fred nor Sandy suggested that, but often this is where the direction of such articles by some groups are ultimately steering. And that, to me is particularly concerning.

      I have no idea if Dr Fords allegations are correct. Other than gut feelings, I don’t know if anyone does. But, I do know in the words of Carl Sagen, “Remarkable events require remarkable evidence”. In other words, I’m very sorry, but allegations of such a heinous crime in my opinion may require scrutiny of the accuser’s and accused’s events – especially when theres little more than an accusation 36 years later at arguably a very political moment in history – accompanied by tough, hard, and uncomfortable questions. And, that in my oppinion is an essential constitutional right of anyone accused of a profoundly life affecting crime. Perhaps this isn’t a capital crime, but we all here especially know it comes with lifelong consequences.

      Meanwhile, still no charges with police have been filed almost 4 decades later…by any – still not a single one – of the accusers, for which apparently Kavanaugh has a clear propensity for only sexually assaulting those of the female Democratic party persuasion It warants scrutiny and very difficult questions in my opinion on both sides, and if that’s considered shaming…my apologies.

  • #47634 Reply

    Tim

    @Developing an effective strategy for FTR defence is key!
    How does a man approach when accused of harmful act.. Felony harm?
    Plea or trial? Innocence projects are already here. So the guilty by admission suffer the same effects, yet do not gather in protest. Is there some chilling effect in play and NARSOL suffers by the same means. Does NARSOL intend to seriously confront those who limit its speech efforts toward the public in general?

    The politicians often claim offenders created their own market via their individual behavior this justifying policy like SOR. The policy fails because it describes the done (conviction & grade) but leans too much on the abstract notion of the term ” registrant” itself. The label implies pathology that doesn’t actually exist everytime. In short the sex offender is a social stereotype, yet includes a myriad of behaviors, ironically some that do not necessarily include sexual motive, kidnapping for ransom or parental right. Taken together it exposes the underlying real purpose of database construction more for political security and profitability than to assist the people who misuse of the electronic lists (registries by definition, but acts like indentured to property ” to do murder Or vigilantism.

    My point is our leadership built it, the people follow.

  • #47775 Reply

    WC_TN

    I agree that shaming the victim is poor form. The pain and harm inflicted when someone is sexually violated is deep.

    However, I don’t think it’s right for the pendulum to swing to the extreme opposite to where there is an insurmountable presumption of guilt based on the accusation alone.

    What discredits the #MeToo movement in my mind is how they have tried to spin Monica Lewinski into a victim of Bill Clinton. She was a grown woman and acted of her own voluntary accord. However, the #MeToo movement is trying their best to spin the story in such a way to make her the victim. Both knew they were committing adultery and both bear equal blame in the sight of man and God.

    I truly think George Soros was behind the whole cherade with Brett Kavanaugh.

    • #47816 Reply

      Chris

      Questions: Is it okay for a prison guard to have “consensual sex” with an adult inmate? Is it okay for a teacher to have “consensual sex” with an adult student? Is it okay for a psychiatrist to have “consensual sex” with an adult patient?

      Answers: No, to all. All are illegal, and all can be charged as rape. The inmate, student, and patient are all subordinate to their sexual partners in these scenarios and could fear reprimand (or in the case of the patient, emotional abuse) for not returning any amorous advances. Most major corporations have rules against fraternization for that very reason, as do most government positions. Without such rules there are far too many opportunities to victimize someone, say an intern, who is simply trying to further their career.

      Now it is certainly possible that that woman, Miss Lewinski, genuinely wanted to polish ole’ slick Willy’s knob and to offer her lady parts as a humidor. But desire isn’t really the key here. It’s about authentic consent, and authentic consent cannot really be attained when there is such an imbalance of power. A case could certainly be made that Clinton leveraged his power over her into a few sexual favors, and if he’s good (and we all know how charismatic he could be) he can even convince her that’s what she wanted. We sex offenders do it almost every time. It’s called grooming.

      And just for the record: I’ve always considered myself conservative, a republican 100%. Don’t care too much for liberals, personally. They are too intolerant for my taste.

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