Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mixed Messages


Guest blog written by: JoAnn Buttaro

I read an article today where in Oklahoma three law enforcement officials were arrested for sexually assaulting women on the job. A captain for the OK Highway Patrol offered some very valuable advice on how women should protect themselves when getting pulled over but then he says "to follow the law in the first place so you don't get pulled over." 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is yet another example of the mixed messages sent out to women when it comes to reporting a sexual assault. We are urging victims to come forward and report the crime committed against them, but when they do they are not always met with the support from law enforcement that I was lucky enough to receive. Every time I hear another story of a victim treated with disrespect it only drives me to work harder on my mission to speak out. Upon minutes of tweeting out this story I received a message back of woman who, while waiting for her rape kit to be done, was told "if you hang with dogs you get fleas." This was only the beginning to her day of horrors and mistreatment by law enforcement. I am also aware of victims who were told the statute of limitations ran out and subsequently not able to speak publicly of their attacker. These are just a sample of the many stories told to me by victims.

Currently there is a major campaign called End The Backlog where hundreds of thousands of rape kits just sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities are waiting to be tested. This means that the victims have bravely come forward to report a sexual assault, gone through what can be an uncomfortable and traumatic experience of the rape kit exam but the case then stalls because the DNA is never run through the local and national databases. Victims do not get justice and healing and this leaves the attacker free to rape again. I struggle with a similar circumstance in which if I had trusted my instincts that night and reported my date rape so many other women that met him after me would not have been raped by Jeffrey Marsalis.

All of the above add up to mixed messages sent to victims out there questioning whether they should report their sexual assault. We can't continue on this path. It needs to start with Law enforcement educating their police force properly. Why is it that some cities do such a good job of it and others not so much? They are there to assist victims and not offer personal opinions. We also need to continue this dialogue and call out those who are simply doing it wrong.

If you would like to read the article that inspired me I have attached a link below:
Huffington Post Article

If you would like to learn more about End The Backlog I have attached a link below:
End The Backlog

Written by: JoAnn Buttaro
Country: United States
Article originally posted on JoAnn Speaks Out
JoAnn can also be found on Twitter: @JoAnnSpeaksOut

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