So many find solace in the fact that they have been one of the untouched where sexual violence is concerned. So many fool themselves into believing it will never happen to them, or those they love. They convince themselves that sexual violence doesn’t/couldn’t happen in their family. Unfortunately, when the topic of sexual violence is discussed, too often the common belief is that sexual violence happens to a certain type of male/female, that many women will somehow be spared. We seem able to place ourselves in a bubble where we assume we are immune to the atrocities in life, especially where sexual violence is concerned. But no-one is immune to sexual violence, perpetrators of this crime don’t pick their victims based on social class, race, economic status, gender, age, etc. Instead, crimes of sexual violence are perpetrated to feel power and control, sex is the tool they choose to use. We refuse to acknowledge the problem of sexual violence in St.Lucia because we believe that this will never happen to us, to our children, to our friends. When the truth is that it happens everyday to the same people we assume it will never happen to. Not knowing doesn’t mean it doesn’t or didn’t happen, it means that they are unable to tell you what is happening or has happened to them. They are unable to tell you because you believe that it can’t happen or doesn’t happen. So telling you seems out of the question.
I understand the need to not believe that you or someone you love will fall victim to a crime of sexual violence, I understand not wanting to see the bad things that happen in life. But you have to be open to the fact that it does happen and could happen, that life is full of bad things happening, things that we can’t control. You have to be open to the idea that someone you know is a Survivor/Victim and they may need you help and support. By not accepting that sexual violence is a very real part of our lives we do a disservice to the survivor/victim; you tell him/her that what they chose to share with you isn’t true. I don’t/can’t believe you, therefore it doesn’t/didn’t happen. We need to acknowledge that rape, incest, molestation, marital rape, statutory rape, attempted rape, attempted incest, attempted molestation, attempted marital rape, attempted statutory rape are all very real parts of life in St.Lucia and that we owe it to our younger generations to do what we can to eradicate the problem, to do what we can to begin acknowledging the problem, to do what we can to begin to support and aid them in their recovery process. None of us is immune to becoming a victim of sexual violence. We all know someone who is a survivor of sexual violence. It is our job to be accountable to the magnitude of this issue. It is our job to do what is necessary to help minimize the number of people who are victimized and ignored. None of us is immune to being a victim of sexual violence. Pretending it doesn’t happen will not change the reality that it does happen. As a survivor of sexual violence, I’d like to ask that as a society, we do more to be supportive of survivors/victims of sexual violence. Well intended words can have damaging lasting results, Ignorance to the issue and what survivors go through can be deciding factor on how soon they get help and whether they share their story again. As a professional in the field, I would like to ask the Government to take the time to look at what we are doing to address Sexual Violence on all sides. What do we have in place in St.Lucia for victims to help with their healing? Do we have trained individuals to walk the survivor/victim through what is to come? Do we have a proper system in place to deal with a survivor/victim from the time the crime is committed? Do we have a system for assessing and rehabilitating sexual offenders? Crimes of Sexual Violence are not to be treated lightly, they do irreparable damage to the survivor/victim, there is secondary trauma felt by the victim’s/survivor’s loved ones. As a society we send the message that we don’t take crimes of sexual violence seriously, that we are willing to be seen as a country where women need be worried should they chose to visit.
We would like to continue to serve as the safe place where you can seek support and validation throughout your healing process. We understand that this is a big step that not everyone is ready to take. We completely understand. Don’t be hard on yourself, when you are ready we will be here. For those of you who are ready, please feel free to call, text or email us. We at PROSAF are always here to listen and support you. Feel free to contact us via the information below. Remember you are not alone. You are strong & brave. You will get through your healing process but it takes time and patience. We are here to help and listen. Feel free to contact us if you ever need a place to offload or vent.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence