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As a sexual assault advocate for the Sexual Violence Center, I get the honor to work with victim/survivors of sexual assault on a daily basis and be witness to their strength/bravery. When I read the front page of your newspaper it gave me chills in the worst way.

The title of the article posted on July 18, 2019 reads: “Jordan rape victim's past Sexual assault allegations may come up in trial." This article could have chosen to state the fact that this case has gone to the supreme court where Jones may be facing higher chargers, the impact of sexual assault on a victim/survivor, or even ways to be supportive to someone who has been sexually assaulted while still being able to have a “telling story." When articles such as this one circulate out to the front page of newspapers it sends a message to people who perpetrate sexual assault and the survivors of it. The message it sends is that when you speak out about sexual assault or try to seek justice through the criminal justice process this is the treatment you will receive.

It is very clear throughout this article the doubt or outright lack of belief of Perez. One of the reasons for not believing being because Perez had been assaulted in her past, despite the fact that in the article it also states people she has previously accused have admitted to the assault. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (2012), “Numerous studies suggest that sexual victimization in adolescence significantly increases the likelihood of sexual victimization in adulthood. Studies suggest that sexual victimization in childhood or adolescence increases the likelihood of sexual victimization in adulthood between two and 13.7 times.” Unfortunately, this is a reality we see more often than not with the victim/survivors we work with.

Articles such as this are what prevent people from coming forward to report. This lack of belief toward victim/survivors does not exist for any other crime. We do not ask a person who has been robbed in the past if they’re lying about being robbed now. We often come from a place of believing for any other crime outside of sexual assault, which is also why these cases can be very difficult to prosecute when done by a jury who hold these similar beliefs about victims.

I ask you, the reader, to be a part of the change we all need so someday articles like this are no longer written about sexual assault survivors. I ask that if someone in your life comes to you and shares they’ve been sexually assaulted that you believe them. I ask that you let them know that they did not deserve what happened to them. I ask that you consider connecting them to their local rape crisis center by calling the national hotline, 1-800-656-4673 or for those in Carver, Hennepin, or Scott counties please call the Sexual Violence Center at 952-448-5425.

Grace Espinoza

Carver/Scott Program Coordinator

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