Barely a day goes by where I don’t read about someone being charged or convicted of sexual assault and/or human trafficking. Many of the articles that pass by my computer screen are of repeat offenders, some no longer on a registry to warn the public, some on the registry that few of us see. They all have one thing in common - sentences that do not fit the crime let alone prevent future people from becoming victims. For the second and third time rounders another common theme is the escalation of the crime, many ending in murder designed to silence the victim and evade prosecution. The comments are always the same - rightful outrage with a few people who don’t feel that a stronger sentence should be warranted specifically because of the lack of understanding that the survivor is impacted for life. As I post these articles on Facebook and participate in the articles I become a part of the education team and a part of the team who becomes educated through the exchange of different survivor perspectives. What I don’t see is change. Less than a day after an outrage over Bill Cosby getting 3 to 10 years, Brock Turner getting 6 months for raping an unconscious girl (he only served 3 months), no jail time for a father who raped his 12 year old daughter (he got caught after he impregnated her) hundreds of times because the judge ignored the mandatory 25 year sentence since the dad was such a nice church-going man… the list goes on and no change ‘happens’. We talk about it, we write about it, we read about it and then it’s gone and our lives go on.
As a survivor of rape(s) and trafficking, I am done with life going on as usual. I am done with merely commenting. I am done being a part of the landscape where we have more knowledge of what is going on in the world than ever before and do less about it than any other time in history. I am taking a stand and I hope you will join me.
Sexual assault and human trafficking carry life sentences for the victim/survivors. We are forever altered and impacted. We hold the memories in our bodies … we hold the memories in our souls. Even when we are living our best lives we have no control of a trigger that alters our best day(s). Many of us are left with physical impact - our health has been altered, for some to a devastating degree. When you compare that to the sentence our perpetrator(s) receives it becomes clear there is no justice. We are altered for life while predators receive little jail time and worse yet are free to re-offend which statistically we know they will. The average number of victims a sexual predator will have in his lifetime is 300 … that’s 300 lives forever altered and in many cases completely destroyed. The average lifespan of a trafficked human being is 7 years. The average sentence of a trafficker is less than 8 years. WE MUST take a stand and make change to protect future victims and seek justice that is equitable for survivor(s).
#DearJudges is a collective of voices of sexual assault and/or human trafficking survivors. The goal of #DearJudges is to
Give a voice to survivors of sexual assault and/or human trafficking with the goal of bringing about real justice.
To be heard by the judges who pass out light and unjust sentences to convicted rapists, traffickers and purchasers of human beings.
To strengthen minimum mandatory sentences of convicted rapists, traffickers AND the purchasers of human beings.
To take the power of light (unjust) sentencing judges away.
To develop sensitivity trainings for judges.
To REQUIRE ALL judges to take human trafficking and sexual assault sensitivity training.
I have created a private Facebook group to give survivors and their families a safe space to share the impact that being a victim had/has on them. We will be using quotes from the stories that are shared (anonymously) with the hashtag #DearJudges to create a campaign and petition. There are more details within the group.
If you know of anyone who would benefit from the group please share this page or the group with them.
If you do not have Facebook or prefer to share your story directly please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be posting statements on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn with the hashtag #DearJudges. If you want your name to be credited in association with your story please let me know; otherwise, it will be shared anonymously.
Join us on Facebook HERE