Stephen Helfer (“Persecution of the accused in rape case is unacceptable,” Letters, Jan. 15) tries to shove us back to the 1970s by presenting a “blame the victim” mentality. Rape IS a heinous act, regardless of whether alcohol is involved. Rape is certainly NOT a “teenage sexual transgression.”
According to the US Department of Justice, somewhere in America, a woman is raped every two minutes. These acts of aggression are about violence, power, and control. I do not believe it can be excused or explained by the influence of bestsellers, drunkenness, or Internet postings and social media.
Shaming and blaming the victim, along with fear of reprisal, prevent most victims from reporting sexual assaults. We should all be outraged at the revictimization this causes. This is what undermines civilized society.
We should not contribute to the problem by minimizing the physical, emotional, or sociological impact. In a civilized society, I would expect a public outcry over the prevalence of sexual violence. I would certainly not see it as “persecution of the accused.”
We must reassure all citizens that our criminal justice system — not social media or public discourse — is the place to determine guilt or innocence. Blaming the victim serves no purpose other than to maintain the imbalance of power.
The writer is an adjunct faculty member in the psychology department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.