Written by Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support
Many have argued that the recent death of Jeffrey Epstein, while in custody, is a result of a system failure – that perhaps he was not protected thoroughly or watched closely enough. This is not the story! We need to tell the true story of system failure – lack of protection for the victims of this pedophile’s abuse. While conspiracy theories float throughout various internet articles and the FBI conducts its routine investigation, we must take a step back and recognize the true victims: the dozens of young girls and women who have been sexually assaulted, trafficked and abused as a result of money, power and control. An American is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds. Every 9 minutes, that victim is a child (RAINN.org).
In 2008, Epstein admitted to charges of solicitation of prostitution and sex trafficking of minors. He openly admitted that he liked “young girls” and registered as a sex offender. Despite his light sentencing in 2008 for only some of his crimes, his perpetration of assault on young girls did not stop. His wealth and circle of friends offered a great deal of power while his victims were vulnerable, marginalized, invisible and unbelievable.
Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Cosby. Michael Jackson. Larry Nassar. Harvey Weinstein.
What do they all have in common? The ability to manipulate with power, control and social influence over their victims as well as our society. Certainly the #MeToo movement has made us more aware and less tolerant but we cannot slow down or begin to look the other way.
It is over for Jeffrey Epstein but it will never be over for his victims. The trauma they have experienced will be part of their lives forever. “Retraumatization can occur when any situation, interaction, or environmental factor replicates events or dynamics of prior trauma and triggers feelings and reactions associated with the original traumatic experience” (NSRV.org). Although Epstein’s victims were robbed of their “day in court,” the court of public opinion has spoken. Jeffrey Epstein is guilty of hundreds of heinous crimes.
At Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support we encourage all victims to come forward and report. Justice may not come right away or in the Epstein case ever at all, but for victims, reporting is the first step in taking back their lives. For victims everywhere, the moral of this story needs to be one of help and hope. With support, victims can get past the trauma. We firmly stand behind each and every victim of abuse, loudly proclaiming that it is not okay and it will never be okay. Abusers must be held accountable, regardless of their social status, athletic talent, ability to entertain or net worth.
Rape Abuse Incest National Network
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National Domestic Violence Hotline @ 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
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