Senator Hardy and I discussed Act 68 on Zoom on an overcast summer day in June. She spoke passionately about the bill and her role in its enactment. Senator Hardy shared his experiences as a sexual assault survivor for the first time on the Senate floor earlier this year to remind his colleagues how close sexual assault is to all of us. For them to know that another senator has personal experience is powerful and important and will start putting more face on the situation for my colleagues,” she said.

I asked her why this is the year the definitions of consent and sexual assault are changing in Vermont law. She cited her three main reasons: the #MeToo movement that has kept sexual harm at the top of the agenda for several years; women in power on Vermont’s legislative committee; Input from stakeholders portrayed the desperate need of women. Updates to outdated systems. According to Senator Hardy, a “well-timed” strike by students at the University of Vermont prompted lawmakers to establish and fund an intercollegiate council.

The Vermont Campus Sexual Harm Task Force, of which the executive director of WomenSafe is a member, released a report to Congress in May 2020. The report proposed an interuniversity council and detailed the need for better practices to support survivors and prevent sexual violence. The task force also called for better information sharing and data collection. Act 68 does not address the task force’s request that all Vermont colleges and universities be required to collect data on sexual assault, but it does provide state law enforcement with a stalking, sexual assault, and , and to publish data on the number and outcome of these incidents. They are referred to law enforcement agencies. Numbers alone cannot tell the full story of sexual harm, but they can paint part of the picture and can be used to hold our systems accountable. Both Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Are Quietly Flourishing, But Proof That Sexual Violence Occurs And It Affects Higher Percentages Of Women, People Of Color And Queer People if you can, We can ask for change. Act 68 presents an opportunity for the conversation about sexual assault to begin in earnest.

Implications for Prosecution – Survivor-Focused?

When I heard about Act 68, I wondered if it would help survivors get the justice they seek… whatever it is. For these and many other reasons, sexual assault remains the most underreported crime. Whether Act 68 will encourage more survivors to come forward remains to be seen. At the very least, the current legal system might work better for survivors. McManus, who is prosecuting sexual assault cases in Addison County, believes her case will be easier under the new definitions of consent and sexual assault.

She hopes that survivors will be stripped of the scrutiny of being “perfect victims” and that they can somehow “prove” in court that they do not want sex. The law now requires “affirmative, clear, and voluntary consent” for consent to exist. Thus, for example, the ‘fawn’ reaction to trauma that occurs when a survivor ‘cooperates’ because there is no better period with the perpetrator until they can safely reach the perpetrator cannot be used against the survivor. You can not.

Disagreeable people include those who cannot comprehend the situation, those who cannot resist, those who cannot communicate their “reluctance”, and those who are incapacitated by drug use. Having sex with someone who somehow refuses to participate or who in some way communicates their unwillingness is also sexual assault. In addition, defendants will come under greater scrutiny. It is no longer sufficient to say in court that the plaintiff did not know that they disagreed. For example, it is possible to argue that the defendant “reasonably should have known” that the plaintiff was incompetent because of signs of intoxication or reluctance.

I hope this law will change the culture of blaming victims beyond the courts. McManus is most excited to see how Act 68 will evolve our society’s view of consent by attacking the cultural beliefs that make sexual assault a deeply rooted issue. Survivors still have the burden of proof in court, but the new law could shift the focus to agreements established prior to sex about what each person consented to. Excluded from court through news of a successful lawsuit in favor of survivors, it hopes to influence how we view the role of consent in our lives.

What now?

Senator Hardy admits Act 68 isn’t perfect. [bill] We try to remove some ambiguity, but we can’t remove all ambiguity. ”

Problems with drug use and mental disorders remain. What does disagreement really look like, especially if both parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the assault?

It’s also essential to remember that justice looks different for each survivor. The bill was passed at a time when the legal system was being reformed to prevent Vermonters from going to jail. If Act 68 increases convictions, how will we adopt criminal justice reform while taking steps to protect survivors and achieve justice? How do we engage survivors in this debate? Let them examine their own diverse notions of justice?

Learn more about Act 68 here. Senate Approves Updated Sexual Consent Act – VTDigger



Register now for our membership to gain access to our elite training program and fast forward your career today!


Subscribe my Newsletter for new blog posts, tips & new photos. Let's stay updated!

Security Blog

Blue Training Academy

Blue Training Academy was developed in 2018 as a educational and training facility for continuing education and certification courses. Blue Training Academy is an educational institution that allows for all sectors of the public and Criminal Justice field to gain ongoing training and education.

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Blue Training Academy Blog