We all have people in our lives that have experienced rape, sexual harassment or assault. Many of our loved ones have experienced this at the hands of someone they know. These experiences leave imprints.
Our loved ones are listening. What you do matters. What you say matters. Public figures you support? It matters. Not all of us have the luxury of being about to "just enjoy the comedy routine" or "just vote policy." Sexual violence is a direct violation of the dignity of a person. It is personal.
It is personal.
Saying that you cannot support an actor, CEO, member of the clergy, politician, or anyone in the community because of sexual assault/harassment, or rape allegations isn't emotional. It's personal. It is telling survivors that they matter. Their stories matter, and you are not okay with taking the bad with the good if it means overlooking their assault.
The very reason these crimes are so personal is the same reason so many believe they are excused from listening: it often cannot be proven.
"Well, they *are* married."
"Well, he/she didn't assault *me*."
"I'll wait for proof."
"Let the courts decide whether or not this virtually unprovable thing that happened, when often times even evidence of such a crime doesn't change the fact that our instincts are to blame the victim, actually happened."
"But he/she does this thing good."
"He/she shouldn't have been there/worn that/done that so he/she had it coming."
*Insert anecdotal evidence here*
People do both bad and good things. People can do mostly good with flaws, and people can do mostly bad but still manage to do a little good. If we never hold anyone accountable for the bad, then it is easier to do again. When survivors see statements such as those above, reporting or even disclosing assault seems pointless. "Who will believe me?" This echoes the threats made to abused children, and those assaulted by people with money, power, importance.
If it is easy for you to overlook allegations of assault or rape "for the greater good", I ask you to pause and think about human dignity, and the fifth commandment.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous." The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.
Sexual violence violates the fifth commandment. Those in violation should be held accountable, repent, and be rehabilitated.
It is up to us to treat sexual assault as the violation of human dignity that it truly is.
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