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Advocate for sexual assault victims takes aim at 'rape culture and toxic masculinity' in New Zealand

A sexual assault support worker says the courts need to shift their focus from the victims' behaviour to the offenders' behaviour.

Yvonne Urry supports and prepares sexual assault victims before they go through the trial process and took aim at what she calls "rape culture and toxic masculinity" in New Zealand.

"We need to start looking at rape culture and toxic masculinity. The justice system has to stop looking at the behaviour of victims and start looking at the behaviour of the offenders. That's where we are going to see change," Ms Urry told TVNZ1's Breakfast.

Ms Urry says during the trial process defence lawyers "will dredge through anything to try and make it the victim's fault".

"It was what you wore, it was the fact that you knew them, you were a bit friendly that night," she says.

"She’s a sex worker so if you’re in that line of work you should just expect that to happen and it’s the same with Tinder - 'she used Tinder what did she expect' - Using tinder is not consenting."

Ms Urry says she feels "awful" for sexual assault victims and what they're faced with in the court trial process.

"I've done everything I can to prepare them for it but it's knowing that that is going to be their experience of the justice system and their experience of 'justice' and that's not justice."

She says it’s not just about the sexual violence that hurts, it’s about people's reactions and responses and the default response is to blame.

"[Victims] are left feeling devastated, upset, retraumatised and the reoccuring thing they say to me is how can they [defence lawyers] do this for a job? How can this person sleep at night after what they put me through?"

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    Yvonne Urry says courts need to shift their focus from the victim’s behaviour to the offender. Source: Breakfast