January 15, 2015

When Justice Meets Healing

Becky Perkins, Communications Coordinator

Prior to coming to OAESV, I worked for several years for a local rape crisis program. Over and over again, I witnessed first-hand the trauma that victims of sexual violence suffer and the difficulty many endure while participating in the criminal justice system. It was easy for me to become jaded by the crushing injustice that seems so commonplace when it comes to sexual violence. It so often felt that justice and healing simply could not coexist.

The concepts of "healing" and "justice" are uniquely defined by each of us, shaped by our perceptions, values, and experiences in life. It's why we see protests, vigils, riots, and forgiveness – or a lack of these things – in places and in circumstances we might not expect. The human condition may be universal, but our reactions to it are anything but. Try as we advocates may to pigeon-hole what all survivors believe and need when it comes to healing and justice, such a thing is impossible. Just as healing and justice are defined differently by you and me, so too are they defined differently by each survivor.

Of the roughly 500 survivors I've worked with over the years, many wanted nothing to do with the criminal justice system at all. Some wanted to seek justice, but grew weary or became further traumatized by the process. And some felt empowered and vindicated by seeing the process through. They were all different, and they all mattered.

This year, OAESV will again be advocating for the elimination of the statute of limitations for rape and sexual battery in Ohio. Our reasons are based both in fact and in philosophy, in both reason and emotion. What it boils down to is that rape is real, it's being inflicted on too many people, and those who inflict it are getting away with it in far greater proportions than perpetrators of any other crime.

Eliminating the statute of limitations will not cure this. We know it. Survivors know it. You know it.

What eliminating the statute of limitations will do is widen the very narrow path on which justice and healing can coexist for individual survivors – people who did not ask to be placed on such a cruel and confusing path to begin with. Anything that makes that path easier to navigate is worth pursuing.

Rape is real. For justice and healing to meet more easily… that can be real, too.