OPINION: Stop blaming victims and media for others' crimes
I'M LEFT perplexed by two stories in the past week.
The first, a story that made international headlines.
The story about George Pell, an Australian prelate of the Catholic Church, convicted of child sexual abuse.
The second, a local story that hit the news on Thursday. This story is about domestic violence.
Bundaberg man Tyson Karapa Hepi-Tehuia pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife in 2017.
It's not the details of the case that have me scratching my head.
It's the reaction from the public about the court's decisions. It's the public saying it's the media's fault. It's the public blaming the victim.
In the first case, I don't know what went on two-and-a-half decades ago, and the verdict, which he is appealing against, has divided Australia.
I can have my own opinion about it, but I don't see the need to shame or victimise the victim any more then they have been.
The Pell case struck a chord not because I am Catholic and not because I am not.
It had me up late at night because of the strong reaction from supporters of the now convicted criminal.
Pell was found guilty by a jury of his peers under Australian law.
Former leaders John Howard and Tony Abbott continue to maintain their public support for the ex-Vatican treasurer.
On Thursday it hit home as I read Facebook comments from local people saying there were two sides to every story regarding the local domestic violence case.
Sure, there may be two sides, but when is it okay to use violence against another person?
Friends and family took to the internet to say Hepi-Tehuia was a kind and gentle man, a good person in the community.
Maybe he was.
Just like there are two sides to every story, there could be two sides to every person.
What we do know is, both of these men are now considered guilty in the eyes of the law.
If you are a friend or a family member, you have the right to show your support.
But you do not have the right to make the victim feel less credible or try to shame them in any way.
Have your opinion, but don't do it in a way that will deter more victims from speaking out.
These cases need to be aired in public to make future perpetrators think twice.
The victims should be thanked for sharing their stories and told how brave they are.
As journalists we are often criticised by people saying we are not writing the truth.
It's a hard situation to be in, sitting in a court room listening to victims and the defence.
At the end of the day, we report what we are legally allowed to, we report on facts and the information available.
We report on the verdict that was given by a court which has all the evidence in front of them.
It is not the media or the victim who committed the crime and the community needs to realise this.