We are working to find the best person to fill this important position, with as little delay as possible. In the meantime, our staff, volunteers and board are all stepping up to ensure that this transition does not, in any way, affect the services we provide to the women and children of Marquette and Alger Counties.
We always appreciate the help and support of our communities, but we are especially grateful for your understanding as we move through this change.
by Ashley Kirklen, TV6 uppermichiganssource.com
MARQUETTE -- The Women's Center in Marquette counsels victims of sexual assault every day.
Counselors say there are likely more victims who haven't spoken out about their abuse for fear they'll be scrutinized. One woman, who asked we change her name to keep her identity private, shared her story of how she was treated after being sexually abused.
"It is a very lonely place to be because no one supports you," said 'Sandy.'
Her abuser, a man she once loved, only served six years of a twelve-year sentence. He physically and sexually tortured Sandy and her two children, a boy and a girl, for three years.
"I knew in my gut that I was going to have to show, and physically show, and nobody was going to believe how he was treating us," reported Sandy.
"Disclosure is a very hard thing for a victim in the first place," said Kelly Laakso of the Women's Center. "Almost always with sexual assault, there's some sense of self blame for the victim."
Laakso says getting others to believe their story plays a major part in why victims don't come forward right away. She says because of the deep violation and explicit details of sexual assault, it's perfectly normal for victims to wait twenty to thirty years before speaking out.
"Really victim-blaming is about societal denial," said Laakso. "It's easier for society to also blame the victim than to admit that maybe somebody that they too trusted has betrayed their trust."
Statistics provided by the women's center show 98% of accusers are telling the truth.
"There are times where alcohol or drugs have been introduced into the situation, people have made bad choices, but by in large, if someone reports a sexual assault, there was a sexual assault," said Det. Captain Michael Wassie of the Marquette City Police.
Many victims like Sandy are left with a scarlet letter, feeling abandoned and failed by their loved ones.
"You lose your best friends, they don't support you anymore," said Sandy. "They close the door. People don't want to hear again that he's stalking you. They don't want to hear that, they don't believe you."