Guest Opinion: Let’s Foster a Culture Where Victims Feel They Can Speak out
By Penelope Ettinger
Bucks County Courier Times
January 5, 2018
So many of the men who sexually assault children and women are known in their respective communities as “a good man” — the priest, teacher, mentor, boyfriend, grandfather, elected official, lawyer, business leader or husband. Few are complete strangers to their victims.
On the other hand, when women come forward and disclose their abuse, we often wonder “why didn’t she say anything until now?” But the more important questions that we really need to focus on are “What can we all do to help prevent sexual assault?” “How do we provide an environment where every victim can feel safe to come forward?” And lastly, “Why are we blaming the victim?”
The facade of being a “good man” is key to many perpetrators’ ability to maintain social and professional circles so egregious behavior is not so easily recognized. The “good man” can hold exceptional power to control their victim and shame or threaten them into silence. Whether the victim is a child or an adult — grooming from a position of power on the part of the perpetrator is key to controlling a victim.
We would all like to believe that sexual assault only happens outside of our wonderful community. However unfortunate, women, children and men are sexually assaulted every day here in Buck County. Affluence, poverty, race, age, zip code of residence and ethnicity do not define who and where children, women or men will be sexually assaulted. The Network of Victim Assistance is the comprehensive victim services organization and rape crisis center in Bucks County.