Break the silence; stop the violence

Dear Editor,
Help & Shelter offers its solidarity and support to Akola Thompson and the other women who have courageously come forward to expose the domestic abuse they suffered at the hands of Ruel Johnson.
Too many women and girls continue to experience this kind of violence and too many perpetrators continue to abuse without sanction, never facing the consequences of this fundamental human rights violation.
It is not enough to apologise, not enough to commit to counselling. If these brave women had not spoken out, would the perpetrator ever have stopped his emotional, psychological and other forms of abuse and how many other young women and girls would have become his victims?
Irrefutable research on the dynamics of domestic abuse shows clear patterns of behaviour, including grooming and preying on the insecurities and vulnerabilities of girls and young women, as well described in this case. Those who engage in domestic and gender-based violence exhibit certain tendencies such as victim-blaming – it was the behaviour of the survivor/victim which caused them to act in this way, girls and women lie about their abuse, are emotional and hysterical and it was just trying to calm them down that resulted in accidental harm.
Anyone who cares for, looks after, teaches, coaches or has responsibility for a child (any person under 18) and uses this access to engage in sexual activity with the child is guilty of the sexual offence of abuse of a position of trust. Sexual grooming is also a criminal offence.
Too often, young women and girls become entrapped through isolation, psychological manipulation, physical and other forms of abuse, insults, belittlement, shame, embarrassment, fear and being made to feel it is their fault. By speaking out and naming your abuser, you have given courage to many others to speak out and seek help.
We are appalled by the response of the owner of a major newspaper. It is shocking that a prominent and influential person with responsibility for fairness and impartiality should disrespectfully and callously trivialise Ruel Johnson’s abuse as “bedroom story”.
Break the silence. Stop the violence. Justice for survivors of gender-based violence.

Yours faithfully,
Danuta Radzik,
Gaitrie Shivsankar,
Colin Marks, Linda
Hustle-Gray, Josephine
For Help & Shelter