By Jessica C. Pirro
“I have no skin in the game” was the quote by Mark Croce, in the Aug. 9 News article about the rape allegations against Patrick Kane. The sad reality is that we all have skin in the game when it comes to helping to create a community where violence of any kind is not tolerated. That tolerance should not be dependent on who is accused, who the accuser is, and how that will alter our position on acts of violence.
Not surprisingly, we are seeing excessive reporting on the Patrick Kane alleged rape case. He is a hometown celebrity from a city that reveres its sports heroes. We have cheered for him, and have been thrilled to watch as his hard work paid off handsomely in success and celebrity. This is the man we think we know and whom many of us are defending.
The emotions are understood because the persona we have created for Kane is now peppered by these accusations, a betrayal of what we know or what we thought we knew about him.
However, this is but a small fraction of the betrayal that victims of rape feel: a betrayal of their safety; a defining moment that forever changes their ability to trust those around them; a betrayal of their body; a loss of self-esteem because the trauma of rape will forever be a part of who they are – not defining them, but becoming a part of their own persona.
The reality of rape is that it is perpetrated by someone we know: a family member, friend, an acquaintance and even a celebrity we think we can trust. We just saw this play out with the Bill Cosby case. Many still cannot understand how someone we thought of as the father of all fathers would abuse women for years.
“He is innocent until proven guilty” is the refrain we continue to hear from Kane’s defenders. Yes he is, but why isn’t that courtesy provided to the victim? The excessive coverage of these allegations so far has done little more than imply that the victim is probably a liar.
Buffalo’s reaction will be a defining moment of self-evaluation as we are now forced to address violence in the context of a local son, put on a sports pedestal. It is imperative that we rise above the temptation to blame the victim in an effort to minimize our own sense of betrayal.
It isn’t about you and me. We need to change the conversation surrounding this case, and others covered by the media. #NOMORE violence in our community should be all that we are talking about.
Jessica C. Pirro is chief executive officer of Crisis Services, Erie County’s Designated Rape Crisis Center.