‘Victim blaming,’ divisive debate muddies vital rape conversation

Rape.

It is an evil and destructive act that severely affects countless lives. It is also an extremely sensitive issue to discuss. Those that have been subjected to it are understandably very sensitive to what those who have not been subjected to it comprehend as normal, everyday language.

To raise awareness of this issue, we must talk about it.

However, we must be able to talk about it in a rational and civil way.

As a husband and father, personal protection is of major concern to me. As a legislator, I am outspoken and have fought for years to protect our right of self-defense. As a citizen, I have personally paid for dozens of women to be educated and empowered through self-defense and awareness classes.

I have personally witnessed the transition in the confidence of these women as they learned situational awareness, unarmed self-defense techniques and were introduced to learn how to safely handle a firearm. They were taught how not to be a victim, but they were also reminded by the female instructor, with 18 years’ experience as an Indiana State Police officer that there is no guarantee that anyone will never become a victim.

The dictionary definition for victim is “a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.”

This is how I understand the word victim to be, it is the phrase that the female training instructor used and it is very similar to the wording the NRA uses in their 24-year-old award winning program “Refuse To Be A Victim,” which has empowered hundreds of thousands of women and saved countless lives.

Recently, The Indianapolis Star ran an article outlining the story of a rape survivor and I wrote asking them to do a follow up story on the thousands of Hoosier women that are learning not to be a victim.

There was absolutely no ill intent with my letter or disrespect meant to those that have survived this horrific nightmare.

However, soon there were those on social media that attacked me for “victim blaming” and spreading the culture of rape. But instead of discussing the matter civilly, many used reprehensible verbal abuse to condemn my letter intended to help protect those from violent attack.

The media picked up on it and ran with it, but at what cost?

This ordeal highlights the glaring issue with this sensitive topic. My concern is that the negative attention generated by my use of well-intended, common everyday language, which was twisted and taken out of context sends a debilitating message to those who will now be fearful to have this discussion in the future.

If people refrain from having this important conversation from fear of such negative reprisal, the much needed conversation simply won’t be had and the condemned, unintended ignorance will remain.

I ask that everyone please be sensitive and civil when discussing this issue in the future, but let’s have the needed discussion.

State Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour represents House District 69, which includes part of Brownstown and all of Hamilton, Jackson, Redding, Vernon and Washington townships in Jackson County. He can be reached at 800-382-9841or h69@in.gov. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.