Victims Don’t Have To “Look” Like Victims

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I have seen time and time again defendants and victims called names or disbelieved due to their nature and outward appearance. It must be made completely clear that if we as a country want to provide justice, then we must view victims as a matter of their circumstance and not a reflection of their character.

This past week I have read, discussed and viewed reporting on both ends of the Brett Kavanaugh case, and while the final verdict has been made, my issue doesn’t lie there; my issue lies with the general public’s reasoning for their stance against Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Quotes that stick out to me are ones that call into question Ford’s credibility. Some have said that she must not be telling the truth because she “doesn’t blame herself, [and] women in that situation always do.” Others say, “She seems fine, how can she be a victim?”

Every psychological report on traumatic experiences cites a plethora of reactions to such an event, but the conclusion is resounding: every victim experiences and reacts differently. There is no “correct way” to act in a situation that will change the way you live for the rest of your life.

Allowing this mentality of standard victim behavior in our society doesn’t enable justice. Such sentiment only enables predators to feel more entitled due to societal support, however subtle it may be.

Victims often blame themselves, but it’s also possible to be attacked after taking every preventative measure and still know being attacked is not your fault.

Victims come in all races, genders and socioeconomic classes. Being well educated shouldn’t make you any less believable than your neighbor in dingy clothing—likewise with victimizers.

I want all Americans to be able to come forward on an equal playing field in the justice system, which is nearly impossible when we judge the validity of victims’ experiences based on the pedestal society has created for predators to feel entitled to such attacks.

If this country wants to view everyone as equals, then victims and predators alike should be treated as equals. When a victim of any crime arrives in a courtroom, their testimony should be evaluated based on facts. Victims shouldn’t have an automatic disadvantage based on their background, dress, education or confidence level. Every defendant deserves the benefit of serious consideration without having their reactions and coping mechanisms called into question.

So make your conclusions about the case. That’s why it was made public. But also take into account why you may or may not believe the defendant. Is it because she acted a certain way in the courtroom? Did she read her testimony too eloquently for a “victim?” Was it because her experience didn’t parallel others? Or did you truly see her on the same field as the plaintiff?

Written by: Arielle Kaimana Taramasco

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