Reporting yourself after you have become a victim of sexually transgressive behavior is very difficult, says Willy van Berlo, program manager for sexual violence at the Rutgers expertise center. “All kinds of factors play a role. For example, victims are very often ashamed and blame themselves. Questions arise: what part did I have in it myself?”
That is what the former candidates of The Voice also said who told their story in Beau yesterday. Both women found it difficult to say anything at the time. “At that moment you first put the blame on yourself,” said former participant Nienke Wijnhoven. She spoke emotionally about what she had experienced with band leader Jeroen Rietbergen.
In addition, according to Van Berlo, some are afraid of not being taken seriously. “Besides, you have to speak up to someone. What’s going to happen then?” she says. “It’s the victim’s word against someone else’s. These are all uncertainties that are not easy.”
What then needs to be done to lower the notification threshold? “First of all, we have to create a culture in which we all say: we find this unacceptable behavior.” Van Berlo believes that sexually transgressive behavior is still too often trivialized and is seen as something that ‘belongs’. “I’ve heard several media say that, but it’s never just part of it.”
Furthermore, according to the program manager, it would help to announce that other victims have also come forward. “So you don’t feel like you’re alone,” she says. “You can also see that as a result of the MeToo movement, it is becoming more open to the public. More and more attention is being paid to the victims, so that they feel less alone and are more inclined to step forward.”
The women who told their story in Beau also said that by publicizing their experiences they already received more reactions from other victims. “My one comment feels like a raindrop on a summer day. If we collect all those comments from everyone, even if it is as a support in our back, then we have a downpour,” said former candidate Kirsten Berkx.
Finally, it is very important that it is clear where you can report yourself as a victim, says Van Berlo. You can always contact the Sexual Violence Center in any case. “There, all assistance is under one roof, including the police and the judiciary,” she says. “There is also a helpline at Victim Support and you can always go to the police to report it.”
There are therefore various agencies where you can go as a victim, but the Sexual Violence Center advocates one place, one reporting point where victims should be able to go. “In my opinion, every company should also have a confidential adviser to whom you can go with your story,” says Van Berlo. “They can then refer you to help.”