Note: This article was published in Letters to the Editor of the Hood River News (“Re-victimizing,” September 26, 2018; paper and electronic editions).
The ‘MeToo’ movement has brought to light, through the courage of many victims (a disproportionate number of them women), the pervasiveness of sexual abuse (most often by men).
In the early days of the movement, I asked: “Shouldn’t it be self-evident that ‘no’ means ‘no’? That sex should be consensual? That consent requires adults in full possession of their faculties? That a position of power adds to (rather than waives) the responsibility of not imposing one’s sexual desires on others? That no gender should have special sexual rights or privileges? That everyone should be safe from unwanted sexual attention, innuendo or contact?”
Today, I have to ask: Shouldn’t it also be self-evident that no one (much less the US president) should feel entitled to re-victimize the victims?
Mr. Trump recently tweeted: “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”
Let’s set aside the particulars of this politically charged case. A broad and profoundly disturbing implication of the president’s tweet is that victims of sexual assault loose credibility if they don’t promptly report the abuse. Is this truly the message that we want to send to the many people who struggle with the trauma of sexual abuse? Isn’t this re-victimizing the victims?
There is no excuse for what Mr. Trump did. Yes, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Yes, the passing of time often makes it more difficult to prove accusations. And, yes, there are legal statutes of limitation. But human dignity and healing have no expiration date.
I can only imagine the pain and anguish involved in a victim stepping forward. The least we can do is to allow victims the time they need, and to accept that specific events can be honest triggers of revelations. Anyone fit to be president should understand this.
— Antonio Baptista