YWCA talks 'victim blaming' in nationwide sexual assault spotlight


DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Fox 45 first talked to the YWCA back in October.

Harvey Weinstein's scandal had just broken, and Caitlin Bentley offered her perspective.

"People are not only outraged, they're finding a sense of solidarity," Bentley, the YWCA's Sexual Violence Program Manager, said.

Fox 45's Shavon Anderson sat down again with Bentley, months later. She said the momentum has continued.

"Unlike anything I have seen in my career thus far."

In the TV industry, in Hollywood and politics, even in entertainment, household names are being ousted, and in some cases, their careers are crumbling. In light of the renewed women's empowerment movement, there's also been whispers of doubt, discrediting stories. It's a blow to victims, already debating their own trauma, Bentley said.

"Victim blaming can be as simple as when somebody is disclosing," Bentley said. "'You know, I never would have done that. You know, I never would have put myself in that position to begin with.'"

In an unexpected shift, people are struggling to understand how so many women are victims. On Fox 45's Facebook page, there's similar rhetoric surrounding the debate on Matt Lauer's exit.

One person commented saying, "I don't blame him entirely, as the way some girls dress it seems to me an "invitation"..."

Another comment states, "You can't blame him 100%... Sometimes they give off the wrong signals."

"Some of the reason folks do hold back is because of that negative self talk," Bentley added.

Bentley said the current spotlight on sexual assault is two-sided. On one hand, it's encouraged people to come forward. On the other, it's pushed victims into silence as the world weighs in on how they think the situation should be handled.

"It's easier for your brain to act like something bad and scary didn't happen, than to face the fact that it did," Bentley said. "And that the bad scary thing happened to someone you know, and it was done by someone you also know."

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