SPOKANE, Wash. - In a packed town hall at the Northeast Community Center on Thursday night, a panel of sexual assault survivors, law enforcement, and medical professionals provided a glimpse into how sexual violence is handled in Spokane County.
The "Time's Up" and "Me Too" movements have spread across the country - inspiring more discussions regarding sexual abuse and harassment. The theme of Thursday's town hall? Stop blaming and start believing.
"Stop blaming the victim. You don't know what they've gone through," said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who sat on a panel of survivors and a criminal justice professionals.
"It's really hard for me, as a judge, to sit up there and say this is what the range is - one to two months - three to four months - when people have been victimized. It's really hard to hear," said Spokane Superior Court Judge Annette Plese.
The forum provided a chance to listen, and to question how sexual abuse victims are treated in Spokane County. One nurse asked the panel if a sexual assault response team would be formed - another woman asked where her rape kit had ended up, and why the evidence had not been processed.
One woman said, "We need to improve prosecution. We need to make sure these rape kits are appropriately done, that victims aren't further victimized by the process of getting evidence collected."
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