Only assailants are responsible

Editor:

Re: Four arrested after alleged sex assault, April 2.

Editor:

Re: Four arrested after alleged sex assault, April 2.

I have to say that reading your front-page article upset me.

First off, let’s look at the crime itself before I address the RCMP statement and regurgitation of those words.

Two young women are sexually assaulted at 1 a.m. in a park, the impact forever affecting these women – the way they view their bodies, how they develop relationships, how they parent – everything has changed for these two 16-year-old women and their families, forever.

As well, four more families have changed, those of the four accused.

If convicted, will these families make excuses to their friends for their sons’ actions? Perhaps they will excuse it on alcohol or drugs? Maybe it was the girls’ fault for being in a park at 1 a.m., or how they were dressed? Maybe peer pressure?

Or, possibly, we can look at the RCMP statement for the answers: “With summer approaching and the evenings getting warmer, we’ll see more people outside hanging out in parks?” and “Be aware of where you’re at, your surroundings and use smart and common sense.”

Really? So if I’m the parent of a sexual-assault survivor, I’m going to say, “oh honey, you were assaulted because it’s spring, the weather is nice, and you were unaware of your surroundings, and you failed to use smart and common sense?”

And as the parent of a rapist, I can make an equally justifying statement. Where does the responsibility lie in that scenario?

As a father to both a young woman and a young man, I know I have some difficult conversations ahead.

To my daughter, I need to tell her to be aware of possible predators, to never leave a drink unattended, to not trust strangers, to teach her how to say “no,” and a thousand other things to watch out for. Further to that, I will let her know the majority of assaults are not like this one, stranger rape, but rather sexual assault may come from someone she knows and maybe even trusts.

To my son it’s a different conversation, one that most parents don’t have. I will teach him the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex, and what to do when a woman says “no.”  As well, I will teach him what to do when he is witness to friends in this situation.

Further to that, don’t scare women into thinking it’s strangers who’ll be the ones assaulting them. “Be aware of where you’re at, your surroundings and use smart and common sense.” Does this still apply to the millions of assaults that occur between friend or friends of friends?

Women shouldn’t be scared to walk alone at night. Make them aware of the risk, but don’t scare them into retreating friends’ houses, where most assaults occur.

While I don’t disagree with the RCMP statement with respect to crime prevention, I do disagree with the placement of such statements in your news article. It implies that the responsibility of this crime does not lie solely on the assailants.

It’s pretty simple – keep your hands to yourself, and no means no.

Chris Roscoe, Surrey

Editor’s note: The police comment was in answer to a reporter’s request for advice for potential victims.