YWCA Our Voice

It's not her fault

It seems that every day a News app notification pops up on my iPhone telling me that a person has come forward saying a famous man sexually assaulted or harassed them in the past.

Political figures, news anchors, actors and Hollywood directors have been accused for inappropriate behavior. Whether the alleged perpetrators have confessed to their actions or denounced them, this is a serious problem that too often remains a secret.

Many critics of the primarily female victims ask questions like, why did they wait 30 years to say something? Why now?

The horrible acts those men are accused of can be traumatic for the person they have taken advantage of or made feel uncomfortable. Painful experiences can be difficult to talk about especially if there is a chance they will be blamed for what happened.

Sex crimes like rape and harassment are sometimes not taken seriously if a victim reports it. People may not believe them because they think the victim has a selfish motive like the desire for money or notoriety.

When a person doesn’t think anybody will believe them, they feel discouraged to report the incident. Their experience ends up being a secret tucked away for years.

Often times a victim is blamed for being raped or harassed. People ask what the victim was wearing, if they were flirting or if they were “asking for it.” If they expect to be criticized, there is less of a chance they will speak up.

From my point of view, it seems that since so many women have been speaking up about these incidents, it is easier for others to do the same. Now that the nation is listening, victims are able to be heard.

It is never the victim’s fault for somebody else’s actions.

No matter if the assault was yesterday, last year or 40 years ago, that person’s experience and feelings are still valid and deserve to be heard if they choose to speak up.

Conversations about sexual assault and harassment happen on a regular basis at the YWCA.

Our Wise Options staff members help victims of sexual assault through counseling and legal services. Our community educator also speaks to local groups about rape and other sexual crimes to inform Lycoming County residents about those very serious topics.

We at the YWCA are dedicated to empowering women through our sexual assault services and other programs. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance, please call our 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-326-8384.

Bloom is a communications associate at the YWCA, 815 W. Fourth St. Her column is published on the first Sunday of each month in the Lifestyle section.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual assault, Wise Options can help 24/7 with a confidential hotline at 800-326-8483.