N.C. (WITN) - U.S. Congressman Greg Murphy is receiving backlash for a tweet he sent and then deleted a few hours later.
The tweet read: “No one forces anyone to have sex” and was sent just days after the overturning of Roe v. Wade removed the federal protection of abortions.
WITN reached out to the congressman, who denied an on-camera interview, but gave the following statement:
“Sex is a term I’ve always used when dealing with consensual action. Intercourse when forced or nonconsensual is assault or rape, and that is abhorrent. I deleted the tweet when I noticed it was being misinterpreted or misconstrued. I regret any confusion this has caused.”
Murphy’s upcoming challenger at the voting polls responded to the deleted tweet and Murphy’s explanation.
“I am in agreeance that sometimes things can be misconstrued, but as a woman, I personally refuse to step back,” Barbara Gaskins, North Carolina 3rd District candidate said.
One victim advocate in Pitt County says the tweet could cause sexual assault survivors to be more fearful and keep them from coming forward.
“It just makes a person who has been victimized say, ‘well, if there are people out here who don’t believe that rape is real or forced sex is real, then why would I even come forward?” Deborah Sheppard said.
Sheppard not only works with victims of abuse daily, but she also has a special connection to their struggle. “I am a survivor of abuse, so I do understand the fear of speaking up.”
She also shared a message for anyone feeling that intense fear.
“It’s easier to say this than for someone to do it, so just be patient with yourself and know that there are people out here that will help you when you’re ready.”
There are national and local resources available for survivors of rape and sexual assault. In Pitt County, Sheppard’s team makes sure victims understand their rights and then they help them cope with the consequences of the crime, and work through some of the paperwork for court proceedings and compensation.
In Greenville alone, 27 rapes were reported in 2020, a 35% increase from the year before.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673. That number offers 24-hour confidential support to victims.
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