This letter is in response to the publishing of the details of an “alleged sexual assault” on the V.I. Consortium’s website, the week of April 23rd.
Reporting a sensational story is not more important than a person’s life. It was unnecessary to publish the details of the sexual assault, “from a probable cause fact sheet obtained by the Consortium.” How can a victim feel safe to reveal their story, as they pursue justice for crimes committed against them, with the threat of this type of negative exposure to consider?
What concerns me the most is the victim–and her children–had to relive the violation, when the details of her sexual assault by her former intimate partner were made public. And everyone she knows now knows what happened to her in awful detail. The effects of this revictimization on her family could be far-reaching in a community of this size.
The message this publication sends to victims who are considering coming forward to seek justice against their perpetrators is unsettling. They will not want to report their violations to law enforcement, knowing it could end up being used as “first page news” to increase a website’s readership. And perpetrators now have another tool to add to their arsenal to keep victims silent: the threat of their sexual assault exposed to the public in this small community.
It was irresponsible, inconsiderate and insensitive of the VI Consortium to publish the details of this crime, without considering how it would affect the victim and her children, who have already endured so much pain and suffering. If the focus is truly on the victim, information surrounding the case would be shared in ways that do not add to the trauma they are already experiencing, shame or blame them.
We are a small community, with many individuals who are working to heal from abuse, rape, incest, stalking–many types of sexual and domestic violence. We should not have to add the fear that their stories will be sensationalized to the list of things they must recover from. The Consortium’s readers deserve better, the victims and survivors among them most of all.
Clema S. Lewis, St. Croix