Monday, October 26, 2009

Blaming the Victim Creates a Culture of Fear & Silence

Dear Mr. Editor:

Next time you plan to alter my work without consent, the least you could do is copy the title Verbatim!

Here's an even better idea: Don't bother printing my words if you intend to do is write them off.

Sexual assault and rape is vastly under-reported on this country. Want to know why? Read the subtitle!

The subtitle alone implies blame, stigma, and creates a level of detachment.  That type of desensitization is what allows people to look the other way and blame the victim.  This creates a culture of silence, fear, and indifference.

Community apathy is what leaves me wondering why I am completely invisible to everyone within a 60 mile radius of my home.  Not a single person seems to hear a word I am saying. 

I know they hear me.  I way too loud for anyone to pretend for second that they don't know who I am or why I am so sad and angry to be trapped in this big little city. 

No one should be invisible, and it concerns to live in a community that has demonstrated a total lack of empathy and compassion.  So yes, once again, my neighbors may hate me, blame me, or just plain pretend I don't exist.  Unless, of course they need something... the simple that I don't have anything to give.

Perhaps you made a profit of the publication of this article, just as the news story I sold for $1.00 a year ago made the publishes 47 times that amount. 

But I need a job.  I am invisible to everyone around me until they are confronted with their own crisis.   

By implying the assault I wrote about in "Good Fences" had anything to do with a mental health diagnosis, you have helped to contribute to stigma so that you could sell papers. 

Thanks, but no thanks. That just convinces me that you are no different from all the other mediawhores who use labels to exploit those who have already been marginalized by society.

more way people are victimized promote that piece in  your publication . It seems to me, that the perpetrator and the witness should have to answer for there actions rather than placing the blame on me, 

Is there anything I could have done to invite such a violent and personal atack in my own home?  Is there anything any woman, man, or child can do that justifies years of trauma, isolation an fear? 

Perhaps you should have commented on what kind of illness allows a man to watch a man use such force to put a woman of 122 lbs against the wall, his hands on a women without even lifting a finger to call 911.

Ever heard of Kitty Genovese? She was murdered as 38 people watched, yet not a single person called the police or did anything to help as she was brutally murdered in the city of New York. This is due to "Bystander Apathy" We often look to others for cues as to how to respond in a crisis.

Having been a both a witness and a victim, I decided that I would never look the other way. It would serve our communities well to adopt the same philosophy. Not only to create a more cohesive community, but a safer one as well.

When was the last time you called the police or filed a police report? We have criminalized and marginalized too many members of society. So where does it end?

I made a decision a long time that it would end with me. But if you were to ask me today, I might have a different answer.

Blaming the victim not only further stigmatized vulnerable populations, prevents witnesses and victims from coming forward to prevent and report criminal activity. It contributes to bystander apathy and prevents people from reporting crimes.

We already have enough problems putting rape victims on trial. As the editor of a publication dedicated to improving the lives of persons diagnosed with mental illness, I can see why you just went out of business. Good Riddance.

Maybe I'll start my own.

Sincerely yours,

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Contributing Author
New York City Voices

[edited 11/17/2009]

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Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.