As a woman and as a member of the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, I agree that verbal harassment and unwanted sexual advances are unacceptable and threatening. However, Carr relies solely on prejudice and personal narrative to construct a “news” story that perpetuates inaccurate myths about sexual assault. Contrary to the article’s assumptions, the number one location for someone to be victim to a sexual assault is in their own home. The number two location: the perpetrators’ home. Why these locations? Because chances are that the perpetrator will be someone known and trusted by the victim (family member, neighbor, co-worker, intimate partner, etc). In fact, 89% of sexual assaults in New Mexico are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. This is significantly higher than the national average of 67%. The column’s ridiculous illustration (a drooling old man with wild eyes leaping out from a tunnel to attack a defenseless, light-haired, white woman) furthers the assumptions that people are never attacked by someone they already know. The typical sex offender is not a deranged, uncontrollable monster lurking beneath a tunnel.
Carr states that the verbal harassment she endures is “not solicited” because she does not “dress or walk ‘sexy’” – implying that other women are “asking for it” and, therefore, deserve to be assaulted. Unfortunately, sexual assault can happen to anyone, at anytime. The youngest client seen at the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico was 2 weeks old; the oldest was 90 years old. Furthermore, Carr reinforces the cultural myth that victims and perpetrators fall into sex-based categories: men vs. women. In fact, studies have shown that 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime and 1 in 5 males will be sexually assaulted in his lifetime. Assuming that all women are victims and all men are perpetrators obscures the reality that many men are survivors of sexual assault, and that women are offenders.
Finally, the suggested “solutions” are problems unto themselves. Carr’s first suggestion – more cops – ignores the fact that LGBTQ persons, people of color, and low-income and working class communities experience sexual assault, verbal harassment, and brutality from police forces on a daily basis. I support Carr’s second suggestion - better lighting throughout the city - because I know that I am much more likely to trip and twist an ankle than be assaulted by a “hidden bad guy”. There is no mention of the need for community education and outreach or that there are numerous sexual violence prevention programs throughout the city and state that are doing constructive and important work in the community.
The Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico is fighting to end the cultural silence around sexual assault. RCCNM works to raise awareness about the problem of sexual assault while also offering ways to both prevent it and cope with it. We run a crisis hotline (266-7711) and provide in-person advocacy at area hospitals 24-hours a day. Call us at 266-7711 or visit our website: [link] for accurate information about sexual assault and abuse. Volunteering is a great way to learn more while also joining the fight to end sexual assault. For information about volunteering, call 266-7711, visit the website, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crisis Services Department
Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico