Victim Shaming is Never the Answer

London is in the dark ages when it comes to sexual assault. Recently, in London, a controversy of sorts has arisen out of my involvement in helping a young woman.

In short, this woman went to the police alleging that she was sexually assaulted by a police officer while off duty. This woman was previously in a relationship with the officer but broke it off after finding out that he had multiple girlfriends and frequently used the internet to find sexual partners.

The police did not receive her complaint, they charged him with multiple counts and he breached his conditions days after the charge as well. Yet, the officer’s name was not published, which concerned my client. She wanted to protect other women from this man so they would not have to experience the same trauma that she did. Her only concern was to make the public, and other women aware. In which, this is a common concern and usually the case in such instances. The woman took action and took matters into her own hands and told the press his name. My client’s reasons were not vindictive in any shape or form. The nature of her complaint details a potentially dangerous man, and she wanted to provide other women the opportunity to come forward. In other words, she felt it was a safety concern and could not understand the London Police’s Brass decision not to name one of their own.

To give context, the names of accused are often released. If they are not released, it is to protect the identity of the VICTIM and NOT the accused. However, many victims request and, in fact, insist on releasing the accused’s name for a variety of reasons including the protection of other women. There is nothing unusual about that.

For backdrop of the story here is a link to the four articles to show how the issue arose:

Her Story:

The Lawyer’s Response:

Millars Law’s Response:

Almost immediately after this woman spoke out and named the man, his criminal lawyer came out with a vitriolic attack in an article titled “Accused’s lawyer slams complainant and her lawyer.”  

It is highly unusual is to see a lawyer attack a victim for exercising her right to name her accuser.

The headline of the article seems deliberately aggressive, and I question why it was necessary to write it as such because, in the end, it is women who read this and may be discouraged from speaking out it the future.

I take solace that the ensuing dialogue has given women from the opportunity to discuss the issues that highlight the obstacles they face from those who think they should be silent. As a modern community, we should be trying to build a safe environment for women so they can speak freely and openly when they feel like they are a victim.

Women do not need to be attacked for daring to be heard, for being strong enough to speak out for other women. This lawyer should publicly apologize to her.  

He took a few shots at me too, but that is expected, and it comes with the territory, as a former military mentor once said to us in a HQs overseas a long way back;

“being responsible sometimes means pissing people off…. get over it, mediocre people don’t like to have the status quo disturbed.”

                       –  Retired Gen Colin Powell

Attacking me as a business professional is one thing, but to attack a woman who is doing exactly what we want women to do, to stand up for themselves, to be heard, and to name their abusers, is to invite serious backlash and reflects a real problem.

To “slam” the complainant reflects a real error in judgment.  This woman called me crying after the article was published asking how this would affect other women who dared to be heard. She asked if the lawyer was trying to scare her before the trial, she indicated she couldn’t sleep and was distraught and didn’t feel that she should be “slammed” in the media because she cared about the safety of others. The article made it look like she was attacking the police and nothing could have been further from the truth. This women respects and is thankful for their work but simply wanted to know why his name was held private.

In fact, the police responded with a statement that their decision to withhold the officer’s name was to protect her identity.  Yet, she had told the police prior that it wasn’t a concern for her.

Had the police just released his name as they do every day with accused, she would never have gone to the press, and would not have been subjected to such cruel treatment by the author of the article and the lawyer of her alleged abuser. 

Recently the police failed to inform the public about a sexual predator targeting women in the sex trade. Sadly, that decision may have resulted in the murder of Josie Glenn.

I wonder how many women are involved in these decisions whether or not to release the names of accused.   I would imagine they might have a different perspective on what should be prioritized.

I am happy to go on any form of live media and engage in a discussion with the lawyer who slams women who speak out, and I believe we can be accompanied by Megan Walker of the London Abused Women’s Shelter to explore the issues he raised and the issues the public cares about.

At MILLARS we look forward to working with victims’ rights advocates so we can continue the fight to make women safe and have their voices heard… and ultimately have the perpetrators held accountable.

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