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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009

Breakneck:

"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Why don't more women support female victims of sexual assault?

By Britta Anderson

December 11, 2008 | After an incident where a woman had felt sexually violated, many times it is better for her to open up to a man rather than another woman about what happened and how she feels.

Typically, when a woman tells a man about another man hurting her, he responds with the ever so familiar masculine phrase, "Who is this guy? Do you want me to go beat him up? Because I will." But sadly, when she opens up to a woman, the response is, "Well, you must have done something to give him the wrong idea," or "it probably wasn't on purpose. I'm sure he's sorry."

One of the biggest reasons sex crimes go unreported and unaddressed is because of pain and embarrassment, but also because of lack of support from other women. I don't understand why some women do this to each other.

A perfect example of this is the story of a girl I know. This girl had a good friend whom she felt she could trust. She would confide in him and felt very close with him. He was aware of her standards and feelings because of this confidence they shared. One night this girl fell asleep on her living room couch while this friend was talking to her roommates. It was something that had happened before, and the guy would usually just leave. This night, however, he didn't. Instead, after everyone had gone to bed, he lay down on the couch next to her. She woke up a few hours later to him holding her and touching her in inappropriate places.

She didn't know what to do. When she told a male friend about it, not thinking of it being that big of a deal, he firmly told her that it was and that something needed to be done about it.

When the girl's roommate found out what had happened, she told her, "It was an accident. He thought you were his girlfriend. You need to stop making such a big deal about all of this."

This girl's roommate, with one single phrase, magnified the pain of the whole situation.

Why can't more women support each other? This is one question that has haunted me for the past three years as I have heard story after story like the previous example, ranging from an unwanted kiss to rape.

I know that there are women in this world who serve as a great refuge to those who have been hurt and violated. But there are still women out there who continue to rip down and demean others of their gender simply by not being supportive when support is needed more than anything.

If a female has felt betrayed or violated by a male, there is usually a reason for it. Furthermore, if the female opens up about it to someone else, whether male or female, it means that something needs to be done about it. It's not always a case that needs to include the police, but it's usually a case where she just needs to talk to find a way to deal with the situation.

The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) says, "one of the hardest parts of surviving sexual assault is feeling alone and separate from everyone else. If you can find a supportive and understanding person to talk to, it can help you work through your feelings."

I may not be able to change the world with what I have to say, but I can at least make my point and get, if even just a few people, to think about it. Now all that's left is what is to be done about the situation. The solution is to decide for yourself to be the one whom others can turn to.

For additional information or support about sexual abuse, visit the CAPSA website at www.capsa.org or call their office at (435)753-2500.

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