Editor’s Note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and throughout the month we are collecting letters and stories to share with our community. Want to contribute? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Dear Lieutenant Kevin Scott,
“I see no reason for this to be shocking data … It’s an energetic weekend,” he said. “Certainly, people are going to be more active.” Lieutenant Kevin Scott
I write you this letter with trembling hands and a visceral, nauseous feeling. I cannot begin to tell you how sickening it is that this is your response to the national statistic that one in five women experience sexual assault during their college careers. This mentality is exactly what furthers the idea that sexual assault is something that can be easily excused, swept under the rug or ignored completely. You see no reason for it to be shocking? Sexual assault is shocking. It’s scarring. It haunts one’s mind, dreams, and simple daily activities. It is degrading and traumatic. It sends the body and mind into panic.
“If you surveyed 100 girls, or 1,000 female students on LSU’s campus, will you really see one in five that say they’ve been sexually assaulted, if they’re really being honest?” Scott said. “Is that accurate? I mean, look at the numbers.” Lieutenant Kevin Scott
Cited in Louisiana State University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy,
“Consent” means the affirmation and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter. Consent can not be given by any individual who is mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason; or under duress, threat, coercion or force; or inferred under circumstances in which consent is not clear, including but not limited to the absence of “no” or “stop”, or the existence of prior or current relationship of sexual activity.
Sexual assault means there was no consent. You cannot consent if you are passed out, throwing up, or unconscious. Consent should never be presumed. The only thing that means yes, is yes. Your comments insinuate that tailgating at LSU creates an exception to that rule.
I invoke you to consider the weight of your commentary. I come to you on behalf of every person that has been sexually assaulted on Louisiana State University’s campus. You are a leader in an entity that should be supporting and protecting the students at LSU, but instead your comments have trivialized the experiences of any individual that has faced abuse or assault on campus.
Your attitude is exactly what shames victims into staying silent. Because instead of embracing the persons that have experienced sexual assault at LSU but haven’t come forward, you’re invalidating them. You had the opportunity within this interview to incite a radical shift in perspective. Instead of dismissing, you could have exhibited empathy and care.
I write to you directly, because your comments have single handedly triggered strong feelings of sadness, terror, shame and anger from my core. I know I am not the only one who was directly impacted by your words.
I didn’t come forward then, because I was afraid and confused as a result of this exact attitude that shames victims into thinking that they are somehow in the wrong, or that they’re crazy for thinking they could have been assaulted.
I didn’t come forward then, but I’m coming forward now. I stand for any person that has ever been silenced by fear or by shame. Campus rape is an epidemic that absolutely needs to be stopped. It begins by creating a protective space with acceptance and compassion for those who have been affected to come forward. How do you expect to get an accurate “statistic” if you are writing off or shaming those who are victims?
Please consider the attitude you are propagating with both your comments and actions regarding the rape culture at Louisiana State University. Be a protector and a warrior for those that have faced sexual assault, whether they have opted to come forward or not.
For more on the LSUPD comments see LSU’s student paper, The Daily Reveille.