NJCASA: Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s Law Firm’s Strategy of “Discrediting” Victims of Sexual Assault Perpetuates Harmful Misconceptions and Silences Survivors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2019
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – In response to reporting on Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s law firm, the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s executive director, Patricia Teffenhart, offers the following statement:
“We need to be very clear: Assembly Minority Leader Bramnick’s law firm is relying on harmful, lazy stereotypes about survivors of sexual violence. And let us be even clearer: this is the type of conduct that makes survivors stay silent.
“We believe all parties are entitled to legal representation. But statements from the outset that attorneys at Bramnick Law will ‘investigate your case and seek to discredit your accuser’ seem to assume all survivors of sexual violence are lying. We know that’s not true; overwhelmingly, research has shown that false reports are the exception, not the rule.
“Rather than a focus on false reports, it’s more accurate to center the conversation on the underreporting of sexual violence at all. U.S. Department of Justice research shows that 80 percent of all sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement. That’s the unfortunate reality, and it’s unsurprising when we take statements and conduct like that from Asm. Bramnick’s firm into account.
“Despite what Asm. Bramnick’s law firm will have you believe, sexual violence isn’t about ‘hurt feelings’ – we are talking about severe emotional, physical, psychological, and financial harm. It’s not about someone feeling jilted ‘over breaking up.’ It doesn’t matter if someone ‘believed the sexual act was consensual’ if they were actively causing harm to someone. Sexual violence is not about sex – it’s about power and control. It inherently removes autonomy and silences the victim-survivor. And too often, that silencing effect is seen throughout society as a whole.
“We have 1.8M survivors of contact sexual violence living in the state of New Jersey, some of whom undoubtedly rely on Asm. Bramnick to support policies to better serve survivors and create a safer society for all of us. For any survivors looking to access the free and confidential services of New Jersey’s sexual violence service programs, our statewide hotline is available 24/7 at 800-601-7200.”
ABOUT NJCASA: NJCASA (www.njcasa.org) is the statewide technical assistance, and capacity building organization that represents New Jersey’s twenty-one county-based rape crisis centers, and the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. NJCASA elevates the voice of sexual violence survivors and service providers by advocating for survivor-centered legislation, training allied professionals, and supporting statewide prevention strategies that work to address and defy the socio-cultural norms that permit and promote rape culture.
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