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Perspective: Time to humanize the abusers


We often hear that victims of sexual violence or harassment are someone’s daughter, sister, or friend. Remembering our connection to others helps us humanize victims instead of blaming, shaming, or pitying them. In the light of the conviction of actor and rapist Danny Masterson, I wonder if we’re not taking enough time to humanize abusers too.

Now, by humanize, I don’t mean pity, excuse, or coddle. I mean, we need to remember that abusers don’t usually look like the monsters they are. Rapists don’t have horns or hooves. If we’re going to say we believe victims, we can’t start doubting them because the person they’ve accused is your brother, your friend, your coach, or your co-worker on That 70s Show.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis wrote letters in support of Danny Masterson, claiming he deserved a lighter sentence because he was always on time for work, he didn’t do drugs, and because he has a daughter. Even after he had been convicted of sexual violence, they couldn’t see past the label friend to the reality of rapist.

Given the staggering rates of sexual violence in our world, it is almost impossible to believe that any of us doesn’t know a victim of this violence and ALSO that we don’t know a perpetrator. If we truly want to build a world that is free from sexual abuse and violence, we must support survivors but we also MUST start creating consequences for abusers. We must not excuse or tolerate sexual violence and we must not excuse or tolerate those who commit it.

I’m Lynnea Erickson Laskowski and that’s my perspective.

Lynnea Erickson Laskowski is a former resident (and forever enthusiast) of the DeKalb area. Originally from Iowa, Lynnea moved to DeKalb in 2011 to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. She currently lives in Washington DC with her toothless dog.