Brittany Chamberlin reacts to the events following her public story of sexual assault.
By Jamie Lindsey
Folks in Joplin were glued to their phones when Brittany Chamberlin came out with a story about a well-liked businessman that had sexually assaulted her. The conversations in town quickly turned from the everyday COVID complaints to another serious issue that affects many women today: sexual assault turned into victim shaming.
When Brittany decided to come out with her story, like most victims, she was anxious. “I was terrified of any backlash and any hate or victim shaming,” she claimed. As she predicted, shortly after her story was released Brittany experienced harassment and threats from those that didn’t believe her.
“Everything that night was kind of a blur. I ended up having to call the police to watch my apartment because of the threats I was getting,” she said. She even had to take off of work for a couple of days because her assaulter continuously showed up at her place of work.
Despite the backlash that came, Brittany got the backing she needed from her friends and community members. “I got a lot of support, thankfully. I think that’s what kept me here. But I got really overwhelmed with the amount of people trying to talk to me about it.”
Brittany’s story was just one ripple within the pond of predatory behavior that this guy had been swimming in. After teaming up with a local woman and her support group, Brittany and other women collaborated on a series of stories against the same person. It was planned in a way that allowed everyone to see multiple stories at the same time.
When meeting and talking with the other women, she began to notice that the stories they told were awfully similar to her own. Brittany said, “They [said they] were either already really drunk or he got them really drunk.” She also said that some of the women even went on to discuss the possibility of being drugged because they don’t remember giving consent or they only remember having one drink. “That was the situation for me. I only had one beer. And I had eaten twice that day. I know I wasn’t drunk,” she claims. “I know for a fact I was not drunk. I think he drugged me.”
Brittany also said, “One woman didn’t even know that she was raped until we talked about it. People just told her that she was a drunk and that she probably said yes to him.”
Still, Brittany and the other women were victim-blamed and called liars on social media. She began to feel like there is a weird hidden culture within downtown Joplin where people won’t be upfront and honest about another person’s hidden and abusive personalities. There’s beginning to be a pattern of people supporting predators but bashing the victim. “It’s ridiculous and it needs to end,” she said.
Brittany said she didn’t know her assaulter that well. Who she did know, were other people who knew about his aggressive behavior. They either witnessed or heard stories of his alleged actions and refused to say anything. No one should be made to wonder why their friends weren’t honest with them about a predator.
This comes back to accountability. This conversation is extremely necessary when talking about victims of abuse and assault. Now is the time when people quit making excuses for predators and their behaviors and begin holding them accountable, even if they are your friends. A friend does not equate to a non-threat.
Women want to feel safe when they are out and they want men as allies for that purpose. If women allowed fear to prevent them from going out and having fun, there would be no women going out and having fun. Instead, women must deal with the possibility of getting into unwanted and sometimes dangerous situations because of predatory behavior from (mostly) men.
It’s time to change the narrative and it’s time to start holding people accountable, no matter how close of a friend they may be. Brittany says, “Say something. Don’t keep letting your friends get away with this behavior.” Then we agreed, who would want to be friends with someone like that anyway?
No one should have to fear for their life because they decide to speak their truth.