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Author: Rape Is Not A 'Sex' Crime

Maria Henneberry
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
Maria Henneberry details in her book "9 Word Rethink To Get On With Life" the term sex crime causes confusion and often leads to victim blaming.

The author of a self-help book wants to change the conversation about sexual assault.
Maria Henneberry of Normal said referring to rape as a sex crime further stigmatizes the victim and often leads to victim blaming.

“It is not sex, to me it’s not in what I experienced,” Henneberry said. “Now it’s a violation, it’s a penetration crime, it’s some sort of invasion of my physicality. It is a criminal damage type of situation.

“It is not sex because I did not have a say in that experience.”

Henneberry wrote the book "9 Word Rethink To Get On With Life." In it, she describes an attack on her nearly 30 years ago.

She said she didn't report the crime, in part, because she feared the terminology would hold her at least partly responsible for the incident.

“We often subconsciously hand responsibility for sexual anything to the woman,” Henneberry said. “As a 21-year-old woman in the situation I was in, I didn’t want to hold responsibility for something I didn’t condone.”

Henneberry added the #MeToo movement has helped to “open eyes” about sexual assault but it's also allowed for the issue to become politicized.

“We tend to brand everything,” Henneberry said. “The idea that that’s the value we bring to the table is a way to take part in the reducing of our collective humanity and I worry about that.”

In writing the book, she said her background as a journalist helped her to ask hard questions of herself so she can help others navigate through challenging times in their lives.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.