CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -
The Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) of Charlottesville says Monday's press conference answered a lot of questions about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, but lingering doubts could be setting back sexual assault advocacy by leaps and bounds.
"My first thought was ‘oh my gosh this is just going to make more people not believe survivors,' and that's pretty devastating," said SARA Director Rebecca Weybright.
Weybright says that initial reaction about the doubt shed on “Jackie's” story is felt throughout her office. Counselors say they understand why so many questions are swirling around why “Jackie” didn't work more quickly and closely with police.
"That immediate evidence can be really critical, and if that's not captured then, you're not going to get it six months later, eight months later," Weybright explained. "When somebody has been victim of some sort of trauma they don't always necessarily recount facts accurately.”.
"Delayed reporting, first of all, is incredibly common for sexual assaults and also sexual abuse," said Taylor Starns with SARA Crisis Services.
With so much media attention on the story, and the police not able to substantiate “Jackie's” claims, SARA says negative repercussions will follow.
"Why would somebody want to put themselves to be potentially subjected to what, the amount of questioning and I'm sure the criticism," said Weybright.
SARA does want to commend the UVA for its actions in promoting sexual assault awareness and reporting, but the agency would like to see more than just universities having a broader conversation about sexual assault prevention.
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