Sexual assault victims on trial. Rape victim jailed in Texas

In Texas this year, a bipolar rape victim was thrown in jail after breaking down on the witness stand.

A Dallas Morning News editorial reports: “You read that right. A mentally fragile 25-year-old woman, who had been the victim of a violent rape and beating, was tossed in the slammer at the behest of prosecutors who were afraid she would skip town without finishing her testimony.”

The editorial goes on: “But the hard fact is that what happened to the victim — identified in court filings only as “Jenny” — is inexcusable. Using a state law most often employed to detain gang members or other uncooperative witnesses, Harris County prosecutors obtained a judge’s order to lock Jenny up in mid-December. … That was after she fled the courtroom in tears on coming face-to-face with the man who had viciously choked and raped her two years earlier.”

Is it any wonder that sexual assault victims — male or female — often don’t come forward? Or that once one person steps forward to accuse a serial sexual predator that several others soon follow?

It is even worse when the sexual predator is someone famous. Look at the case of former NFL superstar Darren Sharper.

Sharper drugged and raped several women between 2011 and 2014 and remained free despite mounting evidence … because of who he was.

A criminal justice official told Pro Publica, “If his name was John Brown, he would have been in jail. If a woman says, ‘He’s the guy that raped me,’ and you have corroborating evidence to show they were together and she went to the hospital and she can identify him, that guy goes to jail.”

The Pro Publica story continues: “Sharper did not — and continued an unchecked crime spree that ended only with his arrest in Los Angeles last year after sexually assaulting four women in 24 hours.”

Sexual assault victims are treated like they are the criminals and the system is afraid of powerful men.

Bill Cosby. Jerry Sandusky. Jared Fogle. The Catholic Church scandal.

How about the Dallas minister who was sentenced to 12-15 years for having sex with a 14-year-old girl … 20 years after the statutory rape!

And you’re surprised it takes time for victims to (1) come to grips with what happened to them, and (2) trust someone enough to step forward? Or that victims feel empowered when they see someone else who has the same experience speak up?

Yes, men have been falsely accused of sexual assault. No, we shouldn’t label someone a sexual predator without proof.

But we absolutely need to stop treating victims like they are criminals. We have to realize that the emotional trauma caused by rape can radically influence a victim’s willingness to step forward.

And we have to understand that powerful men are treated differently by the system.
Just ask the victims who have tried to speak out against them. They will tell you.

((October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I am raising money through my Red and Purple campaign to help local domestic violence and sexual assault advocates help victims. Find out more at www.redandpurple.org.))

Greg Hardy and domestic violence

2908-custom-ribbon-magnet-sticker-stopdomesticviolenceThe ability of Cowboy’s defensive lineman Greg Hardy to say really stupid things about women got me to thinking … Why does the NFL care if women get breast cancer, but not care if they get abused by their intimate partner?

Considering the recent track record of the NFL’s employees (players), you would think the league might be concerned about both issues. But I have to assume they don’t care much about domestic violence, because I saw a sea of pink this weekend but no extra purple.

Pink is the color for Breast Cancer Awareness Month while purple is for Domestic Violence Awareness Month — both of which are observed in October.

This post isn’t anti Breast Cancer Awareness. Breast cancer is an insidious disease with 300,000 new cases each year, according to BreastCancer.org. If women are more likely to take part in early detection and prevention programs because of pink campaigns like the NFL’s — and statistics suggest they are — then that is awesome and the NFL should continue to wear pink in October.

But there is also room for purple.

Consider the staggering numbers for domestic violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control: “On average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story—nearly 2 million women are raped in a year and over 7 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year.”

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that one-third of all women in the United States is a victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Why is the NFL not rallying to the Domestic Violence Awareness banner?

One of the main messages during Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that early detection and lifestyle changes to lessen risk are important and can save lives.

The same can be said for domestic violence; early detection and lifestyle changes can save lives. Plus, domestic violence is theoretically 100 percent preventable.

But first we have to get people to care as much about purple as the do pink.

Like the people who run the NFL.

I signed this petition to get the NFL to support Domestic Violence Awareness by wearing purple.

Today’s is World Food Day

Today is World Food Day, a day to “join the global movement to end hunger.” 

So why do we need days like this? So we can share statistics like “(a)n estimated 26 percent of the world’s children are stunted due to malnutrition and 2 billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies.”

According to Feeding America, 20 percent of the people in Henderson County are “food insecure,” and are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the kind of hunger you see on Sally Struthers commercials. Which is why people like Bill O’Reilly feel free to say that the idea of hungry kids in America is a “total lie.”

Shame on Bill O’Reilly. Because there are children in our county going to bed at night unsure if there will be breakfast in the morning. Or lunch.

I know, because I have friends who pack bags of food every week for children to eat through the weekend. But they can’t do that kind of work alone.

According to Feeding America, “Food insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.”

So no, maybe we are not talking about the same kind of hunger as in Third World countries … but can’t we do better all the same?

Please consider making a donation today to one of the food pantries in Henderson County. These are the ones I know about:

– Athens Food Pantry, 715 East Corsicana Street, Athens, 75751, 903-677-1600

– Faith in Action Outreach, 103 South Terry Street, Malakoff, 75148, 903-880-2906

– Christian Life Center, 2611 West Main Street, Gun Barrel City, 75156, 903-887-5429

Go Blue month 8

go-blue2I had a bit of an anxiety attack when I woke up this morning. I wasn’t sure I had a shirt ready.

Today I started Month 8 of the #GoBlue365 project. Since May 1, I have worn a blue shirt every day in the effort to raise money and awareness of the child abuse and neglect problem in Henderson County.

I began the project wearing only Go Blue t-shirts, but after a few months I learned that I needed to expand my wardrobe a little. Put on the same six shirts day after day for months and they start to show the wear. If not for my wife’s labor, those shirts would be unusable.

I now have a closet full of blue, but today is a special day and I wanted to start the month wearing a “Go Blue 2014” shirt. But I wasn’t sure if I had one clean.

Continue reading “Go Blue month 8”