As an organization fully committed to sexual assault victims and survivors, we are alarmed and dismayed by the statements released from Pinellas County Sheriff Department leadership. We applaud the work of the Tampa Bay Times which draws attention to the unfortunate reality faced by victims and survivors every day. Victim-shaming and disbelief from the system in place specifically to protect them is a harrowing normality.
Following the release of rape statistics for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, FCASV recognizes the importance of serving as a constant vehicle for rape and sexual assault victims. The failure to properly investigate the dozens of cases reported is not only a letdown to the victims who have come forward, but to the victims that follow and those preceding the Tampa Bay Times investigation. The aftermath of sexual assault impacts the families, communities and supporters of those subjected. Furthermore, the justification of such negligence by placing the responsibility on reporting individuals, poses a threat to the physical and mental safety of the community. The act of victim shaming promotes intimidation, relived trauma, and fear; all of which may hinder or influence rape victims not to seek the legal help they need. The casual use of “exceptionally cleared” designations and the misuse of non-prosecution forms presented magnifies the issue of law enforcement accountability in rape cases and the lack . Due to the sensitive nature of rape and sexual violence allegations, FCASV encourages the public and law enforcement to treat such cases with extra care. This may prevent the very common display of reservation or indifference from being mistaken for non-cooperation from victims.
Sexual violence remains a public health and safety issue that deserves the attention of our elected officials. Raising public awareness about the impact of sexual violence and supporting the reduction of occurrences through prevention education and increased prosecution through the criminal justice system are a part of our mission.The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) is a statewide organization committed to sexual assault victims, survivors, sexual assault programs, and individuals upholding human rights. We envision a world free of sexual violence, where physical and emotional respect is given to all persons alike. FCASV acts on our mission through leadership, communication, and encouraging the people of Florida to create safe and just communities. FCASV provides no-cost direct legal representation for victims and survivors of sexual violence in the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas.