with the rising conversations around sexual assault, i am discovering a major variety in how people think about it. a new shift in conversation that i am hearing is a general feeling of "forgive and forget".
and i know it's hard to not want to forgive. it's hard to not want to justify the actions. that's what makes us feel better and move along. but, that's causing more harm than any sort of good.
rape culture has made a new branch of dismissal. this mutation of victim blaming, which forces a person who has experienced sexual assault to take on more of the responsibility; by forgiving the perpetrator. this person already has the enormous responsibility of defending themselves, and proving the crime, now there's the extra load of forgiveness.
to me, this highlights how uncomfortable our community is with the discussion of sex and everything that comes along with it; which includes assault. it's easy as a community, to push the assaults off to the side. we tell people to forgive, so that we can move on and we don't have to talk about it anymore. our reaction to sexual assault is more about how it makes us feel, rather than realizing the impact that it has on people who have experienced it.
instead of enforcing this immediate forgiveness, i think we need to shift our conversation to accountability. the behavior of perpetrators will not change until we have a communal sense of accountability. when we decide, collectively, that this behavior is wrong, we can begin a culture of accountability. sexual assault is such a victim centered crime. they have to be evidence, crime scene, responsible for all aspects of the crime, and the person to forgive.
if we begin to change the way we talk about sexual assault, and the ways we react to it, we can begin to change rape culture. it's a small piece of the puzzle around violence, but it only takes small steps for big changes.