Believing Victims

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The trial of Sheriff Will Lewis was recently held. The centerpiece was testimony by his former assistant, Savannah Nabors. Ms. Nabors claimed that during a business trip to Charlotte he sexually assaulted her. I found her story very believable and was surprised that, not only did people question her honesty, some were quite sure that she was lying. After Mr. Lewis was found guilty and sentenced, some even said that she should be tried for perjury. I was told that it was naïve to believe her, that she was a scorned lover, and that she had done it for the money, and much of the criticism came from women.

One man said that she was just like his ex-wife that had cheated on him while he was away, even though this case was completely different from his. After a while, I realized that opinions seemed to have more to do with people’s own previous life experience. Some said that things didn’t add up. “If that were me, I would have … yada yada yada,” and others complained that she had waited too long.

I do believe her and feel the need to explain why.

First, people watch a lot of crime dramas. At the end of those shows, everything adds up and makes sense. In real life, it doesn’t always make sense. Given the same situation, ten different people may have ten different reactions. I have known some women in my life that have been sexually assaulted and the stories were very similar to Savannah’s. In each case, the women did not report it because they would be blamed for putting themselves in a bad situation. They also felt, and rightly so, that people would not believe them. After all, there are hardly ever witnesses.

I think that Savannah was truthful. It would take an evil, diabolical person to not only make the charge, but to stick to it for two and a half years. If she was doing it for the money, why would she give up that high paying job? One person said that if she was going to make that kind of money, she knew she was going to have to, “give up the booty.” No, she thought of him as a big brother. She trusted him and was shocked when he betrayed that trust.  People in the Sheriff’s Office questioned their relationship. Yes, they were very familiar. Again, they were close, and she thought of him as a big brother.

After a sexual assault, most women don’t report it. This is why. If we want to end sexual harassment and assault against women, we must be willing to believe them when they come forward and not victim blame them.

Before we make accusations against people, we should do some research. From what I can determine, she has always been a good compassionate person. Why did she come forward? Her mother told me that she did not want anyone else to have to go through what she had. The reason that I said she was heroic is because she knew some of the things that would happen, such as people not believing her, even mocking and joking about it. She knew that she would receive threats, which she has. Another reason that I believe her, is that Savannah didn’t just accuse then go to trial. In addition to a deposition, she was interviewed by the agents and lawyers, for long periods of time, trying to punch a hole in her story. In addition, many people were interviewed, and evidence collected. Much, if not most of that evidence, was never made a part of the trial. After all that, those interviewing her believed.  I do too.

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