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New Video Targets Victim-Blaming After Sexual Assaults

Normal Police and McLean County prosecutors are teaming up to send a clear message: Stop blaming victims of sexual assault.

They released a new video public service announcement (PSA) on Wednesday featuring three women sharing their stories of being raped.

“When tragedy strikes, friends and loved ones gather for support. It should be the same with sexual violence,” Normal Police said in a statement. “But all too often, survivors who have the courage to tell someone what happened are blamed instead of comforted. This needs to change.”

The video premiered at the Normal Theater, followed by a question-and-answer session with local law enforcement and prosecutors from the McLean County state’s attorney’s office.

Victims are blamed for many reasons, said Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Alferink, who worked on the PSA. Those who hear about the circumstances of a rape may think they wouldn’t allow themselves to be put into a similar situation—a form of victim-blaming. Others struggle with the reality of acquaintance rape.

Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Alferink speaking about the PSA.
Credit Carleigh Gray / WGLT
Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Alferink speaking about the PSA.

“Most of the perpetrators of sexual assault are people who don’t have a criminal record, that are the ‘boy next door’ or the ‘man next door,’” Alferink said. “And people don’t want to believe that that individual could be capable of this, so they’re trying to come up with a different reason.”

The video was released Wednesday to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Change doesn’t come overnight. I hope this starts a conversation so that people stop victim-blaming. And that more (victims) come forward, and then maybe we’ll have more offenders held accountable. So I just want a conversation to start,” said Alferink.

Watch the video below:

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
Becky Fletcher is a GLT social media and online writing intern, as well as a student at Illinois State University's School of Communication.
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