BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Intense public interest surrounding texts alleged to have been made by the accusers in the Colonial bar rape case have some victim advocates concerned.

NewsChannel 34 spoke with Francis Bialy, Executive Director of A New Hope Center in Owego, which provides a comprehensive crime victims program serving Tioga County and the surrounding region.

Bialy, while not referencing the Colonial case specifically, says victim blaming is common in cases involving sexual violence.

He says victims can be blamed for where they were, who they were with, what they were wearing and whether they were using drugs or alcohol.

Bialy says a victim’s past can be scrutinized and that society expects perfect victims.

He says the overall messaging from society can discourage victims of sexual violence from coming forward.

“It’s quite frequent that situations are honed in on in such ways as to ignore the total context and therefore find fault with victims.”

Bialy says the criminal justice system often amplifies discrepancies and inconsistencies in a way that ignores the larger picture.

And victim blaming can discourage others from coming forward.

Bialy calls alcohol the number 1 date rape drug.

He says substance use complicates cases of sexual violence in multiple ways.

It’s yet another avenue for blaming the victim and it also makes it difficult for victims to fully recall what happened to them.

“When a victim’s been under an influence, they often don’t know what actually happened and have to piece it back together. So, lots of times when they’re reporting, that’s a part of the struggle that the system has in terms of hearing it and trying to make sense out of it because it’s not clean and clear. And the system wants it to be as clean and clear as it can be.”

Bialy says testifying at trial can be especially traumatic and make victims feel as though they’re being victimized all over again.

He says the impact of sexual assault typically stays with a victim for many years, perhaps the rest of their lives.

He encourages anyone who feels they may have been subjected to sexual violence to seek the assistance of organizations like A New Hope Center.

All of the services are free and confidential and victim advocates can provide assistance throughout the process.

A New Hope Center can be reached at 687-6866.

In Broome County, victims can contact the Crime Victims Assistance Center at 723-3200 or call its 24 hour crisis line at 722-4256.