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Consider power of words

To the editor:

After spending some time with a survivor of sexual assault, I promised to write this letter. When you overhear something offensive (that others were clearly meant to hear), I hope you are not like me. The proper response comes to me two days later at 3 in the morning.

Recently, in a busy local retail store, some women were discussing how much they dislike and disregard victims of abuse who wait “too long” to report. Here’s what I regret not saying — if you have not been a victim of assault, wonderful, but please don’t judge others. If you are a survivor and reacted bravely and immediately, kudos. Please don’t judge others. People are different and have different fears, support systems and resources. Your individual circumstances are vastly different from any other human being. Experts say this type of crime is under reported and under prosecuted. Look the statistics up for yourself. You will be shocked. You also will be stunned by the odds that someone in your circle has been victimized.

Now, let me qualify my statements in anticipation of the totally unrelated backlash that is sure to come. I’m not talking about false accusations, workplace flirtations or salty language. This letter to the editor only is addressing treatment of valid survivors who experienced real events.

Finally, just because you are blessed with First Amendment rights doesn’t mean we should always exercise these rights. I hope to God that the careless, loud and flippant words I heard didn’t cause some frightened, embarrassed man, woman or child to do just what was publicly discussed — delay seeking help and reporting.

Please consider the power of words and unintended consequences. Be kind and have a little tolerance for tough choices that other people make.

Forgive my silence, my friend.

Glenna DeBacco

Toronto

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