The following is a statement issued by the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.
Dear survivors: We believe you. We are standing with you. We understand that recent news and the following reactions of the community have re-traumatized you. In the past few days, you have been questioned, judged, and silenced in ways that have been damaging to your healing and sense of self.
Whether you have reported or not, told someone or never told anyone about the sexual violence you endured, your trauma and pain are valid. It was not your fault. You deserve to be believed, supported and treated with dignity.
It serves no one to have the seriousness of sexual violence be minimized or politicized. Doing this does nothing to help victims or survivors, especially those who are children, nor does it help to end sexual violence in the CNMI and the rest of the world. We are appalled that there are those within our community who would use these harmful tactics to gain political momentum.
Survivors, we will continue to help our community understand that reporting sexual violence is not easy by any means and that their unconditional support is critical. We will continue to help our community understand that before we can encourage survivors to report, we need to create a culture that believes and support survivors and demands accountability for those causing harm.
Therefore, we support you and whatever decisions you make on reporting. It’s okay to seek justice for yourself that may look different from others. We support your healing journey, whatever that looks like.
We also support investigative parties moving forward with sexual assault, abuse and harassment cases in a way that is trauma-informed, and that respects and honors the agency of survivors whether they decide to come forward or not. We hope that this and the opinion that those in public office “should be held to a higher standard” means that the current administration will be actively taking a deeper look into other allegations against current and former officials.
We call on our community to come together in support of survivors. A CNMI that is free of sexual violence requires that we all do what we can to create a community where everyone is expected to treat each other with respect and where children are protected.
And, again, dear survivors, we believe you. We support you. We will keep fighting for you.
With love and respect, the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.