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Our media, our culture, and even some of our statutes continually reinforce the idea that in order to be deserving of care, a victim of crime has to be innocent. This idea of “innocence” excludes a wide range of people from services and limits the options and resources available to people who survive serious harm. But the pervasiveness of this framing does not reflect the thinking of victim service providers, many of whom understand deeply the ways this narrative can be harmful to the victims they serve and to their ability to provide services effectively. In this series, they explore the limitations posed by existing frameworks and point to ways forward that better uphold the values of equity, public safety, and human dignity.

Beyond Innocence: The unattainable innocent victim standard as a barrier to justice for survivors of domestic violence
October 8, 2015
By Liz Roberts

In domestic violence training, we sometimes ask participants what makes a “good victim.” I’ve led this exercise dozens of times, with many different audiences—from doctors to high school students. The responses are strikingly consistent...   MORE »




Beyond Innocence: The Long Shadow of the Innocence Frame
October 5, 2015
By Rommell Washington

People are presumed innocent until proven guilty; people should not be presumed guilty because of their differences or conditions in life, such as being Black, gay, poor, or transgender; having a rap sheet or a lack of formal education; being disabled; living with poor health; or having a mental illness. None of these should preclude a person from justice. Yet even with the best intentions, everyone can still emit a powerful denial of their own bias, prejudice, and ignorance.   MORE »



Denying victim services to young men of color only adds to their pain
October 2, 2015
By Shameeka Mattis

When children are harmed or killed, it kicks us in the gut with a steel-toed boot. “How could someone hurt an innocent child?” we ask. But another important question is whether that empathy would still be extended if the victim was 12 or 22, suspended from school for carrying a weapon, armed at the time of his or her death, or previously arrested for assault. Would his or her harm be any less significant?  MORE »



Trans and gender non-conforming people of color need us to do more
September 22, 2015
By Catherine Shugrue dos Santos and Chanel Lopez

TGNC people need comprehensive services to support their emotional, physical, and financial health and safety in the aftermath of violence, yet not enough is being done to provide this safety. MORE »




"Guilty victims" have suffered too, and deserve our care
September 14, 2015
By Kenton Kirby

The notion of an "innocent victim" means that there are "guilty victims," and sadly, many young men of color impacted by violence or who are victims of crime are assumed to be "guilty victims." MORE »




"Innocent Victimhood" means justice denied for people with disabilities
September 10, 2015
By Amy Judy

Crime victims with disabilitieswho routinely face significant access-related barriers to justiceexperience additional and unique obstacles when an unrealistic standard of "innocent victimhood" is applied. MORE »




Preconceived notions of "innocence" are a disservice to trafficking victims
September 3, 2015
By Kate D'Adamo

By failing to recognize the nuances and complexities of a person who has experienced a trafficking situation, there is risk that the victim will be ignored by his or her community and the people best positioned to help. MORE »




Stay tuned for more posts from this series...