How Taylor Swift’s Victory Could Affect Sexual Assault Cases

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Taylor Swift was awarded exactly $1 for her victory in civil court Monday, but the award could represent much more for victims of sexual assault.

After a Denver jury found that a preponderance of evidence showed that former radio DJ David Mueller had groped the pop star, Swift said in a statement that her four-year ordeal, which included a two-year-long trial process, was for “anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault.”

“I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this,” the 27-year-old singer said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

Two organizations working with victims of assault told ABC News that they have already benefited from Swift taking on Mueller in court.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, reported that its national hotline saw a 35 percent increase in use from Friday to Monday.

Swift’s victory is “a great demonstration to other victims that there is strength in coming forward and pursing justice,” RAINN’s president Scott Berkowitz told ABC News.

While acknowledging that Swift had the resources to pursue a civil case in court, Berkowitz said one of the biggest challenges for victims of sexual violence is not financial, it’s their reluctance to tell anyone that they’ve been assaulted.

“So seeing someone that they respect, that they identify with [state they’ve been assaulted], has a big impact,” he said. “I think that will encourage others to come forward.”

Changing the idea that sexual assault is associated with shame could also be a positive result of the ruling.

“We try to convey the message that there is nothing to be ashamed of,” Berkowitz added, “that the victim of assault is never the one who is at fault.”

Swift did not appear to show fear or shame when she took the stand last week, in one of the highlights of the trial. She was at turns sarcastic, defiant and funny, but never wavering in her testimony that Mueller groped her.

Berkowitz calls Swift the “hero” of the case for her unabashed testimony and the positive outcome that resulted.

“I think this could have a long-term impact and help shape the conversation,” he said. “While the circumstances of assault are different, [Swift] can still serve as a symbol for sexual assault — that you don’t have to take it.”

 

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