If it seems like sexual violence is becoming an everyday news story, maybe it’s because it is.
Those who work in our rape crisis centers already know that not a day goes by that they aren’t called to assist victims of sex abuse. But more often sensational cases are streamed across the evening news.
Just this month, we learned of the Mooresville man charged with raping his 12-year-old adopted daughter and kidnapping her and her sister to Tennessee. In California, there was the story of the gang rape watched by amused bystanders.
At the N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault, we always are shocked, but not surprised by these accounts.
Harder to figure is the lack of accountability in the policies we have to deal with sexual violence. Allegations of abuse too often are passed from the legal system and social services to schools and from schools to parents. Parents blame the children.
The soon-to-be-released movie “Precious,” is about an overweight, illiterate African-American teen in Harlem who is pregnant by her father for the second time. It’s a story that is becoming too common in our society.
The quick answer for cases like this has always been criminal punishment. But the harsh reality for girls like Precious is that there were no criminal proceedings, so violence remains a horrific cycle of everyday life.
The movie is bound to be uncomfortable for many. Conversations about sexual abuse always are.
But it is a dialogue that we desperately need. How else will we ever stop sensationalizing sexual violence and find sensible policy solutions to prevent it?