Today Our Nation Stands On The Side of Sexual Assault Survivors
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
41

Thank you so very much for standing with us and taking significant action to shore-up our rights as crime victims/survivors. As a long-time outspoken advocate on this issue, these rights are long-over due.

Three years ago, I received a public apology for the manner in which my father’s criminal case was badly “mishandled” by the prosecution, likely due to his status as a former local law-enforcement officer. That apology was issued 35 yrs after I, as a traumatized 16 yr old girl who had been sexually, physically and emotionally abused by her own dad for 13 yrs, was put on the witness stand not to secure justice — but to subvert it by burying critical evidence such as 2 confessions (on the record) to far worse crimes.

A detailed review of this complicated case, along with the apology letter and the ways in which this “Judicial Betrayal Trauma” impacted my life (as well as the manner in which a dedicated prosecutor helped me heal) can be found here: http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/articles/sgf2014.pdf.pdf

I hope that people will take the time to read it, and will be inspired to think of other ways that we can help heal survivors of severe and persistent abuse, sexual assault/rape who’ve been traumatized (not only by the initial crimes, but also by the courts and even the foster care system). There are so many “walking wounded” suffers of PTSD and other trauma-related disorders as a result of these overwhelming experiences — and a failure of multiple systems to adequately address them at the time they occur and/or are reported. Clearly this new “Bill of Rights” attempts to address those failures and provide us a way to seek redress.

I believe that additional measures such as mandating “trauma-informed” training for law-enforcement and others who respond to disclosures is another way in which we can reduce Institutional Betrayal Trauma that often complicates recovery, increases PTSD rates, and results in increased financial and other burdens for both survivors and our healthcare system. We are making progress in this area, however, so much more needs to be done to protect vulnerable crime victims who simply want to heal and remain productive members of society.

I’m so grateful to the brave survivors who worked to make this bill a reality, and to the legislators and their aides who researched, drafted, lobbied to get it passed into law. I’m deeply grateful to our President and Vice-President for standing with survivors and doing more than any prior administration to protect and support us.

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