Safe Futures: We believe you and we can help

At Safe Futures, we believe you. If it happened decades ago, we believe you.

If you don’t remember every excruciating detail, we believe you. If you’ve never told anyone, and maybe never will, we still believe you.

While patriarchy and misogyny have made women the targets of sexual violence for generations, we know men and boys have been targeted too. We honor the stories of survivors like John “Tim” McGuire who shared publicly in a recent Day article the child sexual abuse he endured by Rev. James Curry at St. Joseph’s Church in Noank.  

Unfortunately, the credibility of survivors is frequently questioned, as was the case with Anita Hill and once again with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Locally, police arrested an ex-NFA Coach for sexually assaulting multiple students. In response to these allegations, one parent suggested that students who dress inappropriately are partially to blame.

Clothing doesn’t cause rape, but comments like this, which blame victims, make reporting less likely.

The intersection of sexism and racism has victimized women of color since the earliest days of the United States. The racist stereotypes of Black women as promiscuous and Black men as sexual predators has left Black female victims no recourse through our criminal justice system, while simultaneously wrongly convicting and over-incarcerating Black men. Rates of sexual violence against American Indians are 3.5 times higher than any other race in the United States.

The United States is home to a rape culture, one that blames and shames survivors, while excusing violations against women’s bodies with “boys will be boys.” It is time that we as a nation redefine what it means to be a man. At Safe Futures, we are working with boys to develop healthy masculinity. We want boys to know that expressing your feelings is strong, and being powerful shouldn’t come at the expense of others.

At Safe Futures, you don’t have to prove your credibility; we just believe you. We don’t care what you were wearing or how much you drank. Whether you have a PhD, or dropped out of high school. No matter your race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexuality, or the disabilities or diagnoses you may have, we believe you.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. These numbers represent dozens of students in every school in Southeastern Connecticut. These young people are in your child’s class; one may be your own child.

Sexual assault is the least-often reported violent crime according to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence. In addition, "Only about 2 percent of all sexual assault accusations reported to police turn out to be false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other types of violent crime."

The time is now to change our culture from one that treats victims as liars to be interrogated to one that supports victims on their road to healing. It is time that we change our culture from one that makes excuses for those who commit violence to one that creates opportunities for people to own the harms they have caused.

We believe there are a world of men (and women) who have hurt women (and men) in ways they wish they hadn't, but feel like there is no avenue to admit it, no way to make things right. If you are truly sorry, if you want to make amends for the past and repair the harm you have done, we believe you deserve a way forward too.

To all the parents, grandparents and guardians out there: Talk to your young people. Teach them their body is their body and nobody else's. Have conversations with them about respecting others' boundaries. Tell them you believe them.

To all the survivors out there who may be reading this: Please, know that Safe Futures believes you and we are here as a refuge for you. We seek to be a safe haven for victims who otherwise find themselves in a world of victim-blamers.

All of our services are free and confidential. Our hotlines are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: (860) 701-6000 or (888) 774-2900.

Kris Wraight is associate director of Prevention Education & Restorative Practices at Safe Futures, New London.

 

 

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