High Profile Case Could Spark Change In Sexual Assault Victims

"What happened to Taylor Swift, happens to a lot of people"

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The verdict in a high profile case is receiving a lot of praise. Not only from the mega pop star involved, but other advocates of sexual assault victims. A jury sided with Taylor Swift believing that a Denver DJ slipped his hand up Swift’s skirt and groped her four years ago, during a photo-opp. KDLT’s Sydney Kern talked to a local outreach program, to see how this outcome could help others experiencing a similar situation.

“What happened to Taylor Swift happens to a lot of people, women and men as well,” says Executive Director of The Compass Center, Michelle Markgraf.

Each year, The Compass Center in Sioux Falls helps 600 victims of either sexual assault or domestic abuse.

“We had a waiting list as well, so there’s probably a couple 100 more people that we could have seen had we’d been fully staffed and been able to serve everybody,” Markgraf says.

And that only includes the victims willing to speak up.

“[Some] think nothing is going to happen and why should I bother because it won’t change anything,” says Markgraf.

That’s why the Executive Director hopes Taylor Swift’s case will spark a change in victims.

“To say ‘hey somebody else has done this, and this is something that I can do as well’,” she says. “Maybe not as in big of a fashion as Taylor Swift did, but maybe making small steps to talking to an employer or an HR department or some other thing.”

While Swift did win a symbolic one dollar from the case, Markgraf says, “I think she’s probably being believed more than some victims would because of her popularity, and because of the status that she has.”

Markgraf also wants similar victims to know all cases won’t end in this fashion, since sometimes there are no witnesses.

“That’s probably one of the more difficult things; is being believed that it happened.”

But she says that shouldn’t steer people away from standing up against violence.

“We often talk that we have so many brave people that we see coming through the doors because it really takes a brave person to say this happened to me and start taking steps to heal,” says Markgraf. “Anytime something like this happens where it becomes something that makes it kind of okay to talk about with each other is a good thing.”

In a statement, Swift thanked her lawyers “for fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by sexual assault”, and said she was planning donations that will help other victims defend themselves in court.


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