In light of yesterday's acquittal of New York Police Department, officers, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, and the endemic problem of rape in the United States, I drafted an open letter to the New York Police Department.
To the New York Police Department:
My name is Nancy Schwartzman, I'm a filmmaker, an activist and a survivor. I made a film about consent – called The Line – about my own sexual assault, and my decision to confront my perpetrator with a hidden camera. I have shown this film and led discussions around the world – at film festivals, on college campuses, and to people in the government and in the military. Sergeants, Lieutenants and Police Officers have come to my screenings. Some of them want to know why I didn't report my rape, why I didn't use the system, why instead, I confronted my perpetrator with a hidden camera, and created The Line Campaign to educate and prevent rape.
If you're wondering why women hesitate to report a rape or a sexual assault to the police, and why a victim wouldn't trust the justice system: look no further than the acquittal of NYPD officers Moreno and Mata.
Here are some definitions of rape and sexual assault:
If a woman is drunk or incapacitated she cannot consent to sex.
If a woman has consented to one form of sex, she is not consenting to all forms.
If a prostitute is raped, it is not theft of services, it is rape.
You must get consent every time for every act, or else it is not consensual.
The "bad-guy" rapist, the one referred to as "a criminal" he's also the guy who preys on drunk and incapacitated women, employs a look out, returns to her apartment 3 times and places a false 911 call to cover his tracks. That guy? He's a rapist, too.
So now, I ask you, what are you going to do to prevent sexual assault – from this moment forward? How will you use Moreno and Mata as a "teachable moment" and hold these men accountable?
Here are some ways you can prevent sexual assault:
Don't pretend it doesn't happen.
Talk about rape and sexual assault throughout the year, every year. With programs that work. With facilitators. With advocates. With survivors.
Make mandatory violence-prevention and sexual assault awareness trainings part of a police officer's education.
Make sure your officers know what consent is.
What alcohol + consent is.
Make sure your officers HAVE EMPATHY and to the best of their ability know how rape and sexual assault affects victims. If they do not have the ability to empathize – THEY NEED TO FIND A NEW JOB.
Host screenings, trainings and workshops with The Line and other programs that work — we don't mess around, if you don't get it now, you'll get it by the end of the workshop.
The sad conclusion to the acquittal of Moreno and Mata is that you can expect us, victims of rape and sexual assault, to trust you less than we did before.
You can fix that. Win our trust back. Get serious about sexual assault and rape, get educated, and get to work.
Founder, The Line Campaign