Stop degrading victims

In the past month, I have twice been appalled by your sad excuse for a publication. I am not a regular reader of The Hook and never will be. However, as a domestic violence advocate and a former sexual assault advocate, my attention has recently been called to two stories in The Hook.

The first was the cover article of your October 16, 2003 issue ["Saving Sarah"]. This was the story of a young woman who was sexually abused and mistreated by her psychiatrist in Northern Virginia. Within this article was a sidebar entitled "Which Hunt? Repressed memories and other '80s fads" by Lisa Provence, which completely disregarded thousands of victims' experience.

The Courage to Heal, a book that many survivors of child sexual abuse say validated their experience and helped them immensely in their healing process was said in the article to be "really bad therapy" and "credited with fanning the repressed memory flames." This book was taken completely out of context in your article. Thousands of children are truly being sexually abused every day.

Next, I read a second article that incited me to write this letter. In your November 6 issue, "The Brazen Careerist" column by Penelope Trunk is entitled "Make harassment work for you."

From this horrendous title to the disappointing ending where people are encouraged that "enduring sexual harassment can be a way to gain power to achieve your long-range goals," this article is unbelievable and unacceptable. I work with people every day trying to heal from sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other violations to their bodies.

As an advocate and as a woman, I am angry that this writer can print such degrading and humiliating "advice" in a column. I believe in empowerment for each person to make their own choices about how to live their lives, and I understand that this writer was coming from her own experience with sexual harassment. But to encourage other women to just put up with these assaults is irresponsible.

My goals in life include empowering others and creating social change. I know these are not every person's goals. However, when a local paper such as yours prints articles that work against social change and betterment, I have to speak up.

I encourage everyone at The Hook to take a good look at the discriminatory and downright degrading messages you are publishing each week.

Crystal Whitlow