Defamation Lawsuits: Another Tactic to Silence Survivors

Guest Post by Jorie Dugan

Too often, perpetrators of sexual violence use the courts to punish survivors for speaking out about abuse—further victimizing those who choose to come forward.

The decision to speak publicly about one’s own experience of sexual violence or harassment is personal and often complicated. Due to a culture of stigmatization and shame, fueled by deficient laws and a criminal justice system that rarely takes victims of sexual abuse seriously, survivors are often reluctant to come forward with their experiences. Additionally, if and when survivors speak out, they are frequently silenced by the same person who threatens their safety or the safety of their loved ones.

In short, society has never made it easy for women and girls to safely report or share their experiences of sexual violence if they choose to do so. The international women’s rights organization I work for, Equality Now, has noticed a worrying trend that has further raised the stakes for survivors who choose to speak out: the weaponization of defamation lawsuits.

Read the full post here. 

About the Author: Jorie Dugan is a legal advisor for Equality Now based in New York City where she works on ending sexual violence. Dugan is a licensed lawyer in New York with public defense experience in the criminal justice system, child welfare system, and anti-human trafficking.  Additionally, she has worked for human rights NGOs in Asia, Africa, and North America to address gender equality and combat gender-based violence.