Tag Archives: sexual assault

What Happens When A College Rape Victim Posts Her Attacker’s Name to Internet

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 12.54.32 PMAfter months of inaction by local police and her university’s authorities, a 21-year-old college student decided to take matters into her own hands and post her rapist’s name and picture on the Internet. In her article, originally published on XOJane.com, the woman writes:

After my university failed to take immediate action against the student who raped me (despite having been provided with several audio recordings in which my rapist confessed to raping me) and after I became so socially ostracized that I contemplated suicide, it was suggested to me that I did not have to wait for the world to decide whether it would advocate for me or not.

In this young woman’s case, her rapist was also her boyfriend, which unfortunately may have contributed to authorities’ lack of urgency in moving the investigation forward. She nonetheless provided ample evidence of the man’s guilt and suffered the psychological effects of trauma for over a year afterward.

This isn’t the first time social media and the Internet at large have gotten entangled in cases of sexual violence. Some of the biggest recent scandals – from Rehtaeh Parsons’ tragic case to the much-publicized Steubenville trial  – have been exacerbated by leaked photographs and endless debates across social media platforms. The quick spread of information on these sites has also allowed the community at wide to think about and discuss these issues, which is perhaps one positive outcome of the phenomenon. It is also heartening to see that some victims are able to break through societal inhibitions and come out in the open to raise awareness about sexual violence. Too often are victims silenced, perpetuating an overwhelming culture of shaming and excuse-making.

On the other hand, our legal system is supposed to uphold fair trials and “innocence until proven guilty” – so is it fair to expedite this process by proclaiming guilt in mass dispersal via the Internet? The argument could be made that this man’s identity and privacy should be wholly respected until he is actually convicted. We’ll leave it to the cyber masses to judge.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: mislav-m

Rape Culture: Bay Area Teens Publish Exposé and End Up on NPR

1-art-verde-rape-culture-coverRape is a heavy topic for teenagers to take on in a school magazine or newspaper. Some might even say it’s too advanced or inappropriate in such a setting. The reality, though, is that 80% of rape victims are under the age of 30; and 44% are under 18. So perhaps the problem is that teenagers aren’t discussing this critical issue enough.

In the latest edition of Palo Alto High School’s Verde Magazine, several brave young journalists confronted rape culture head on, focusing specifically on two recent cases from their own school community. The featured piece, “You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped” by Lisie Sabbag, discusses at length the ways in which victims are often blamed for their attacks (and called names like “attention whore,” “liar,” and “slut.”) According to an online survey cited in the article, more than 25% of students questioned agreed that a woman who is raped while drunk is responsible for her assault. These numbers are deeply troubling. By silencing victims, protecting perpetrators, and ascribing to a “boys will be boys” ideology, Sabbag argues, both boys and girls – and society at large – perpetuate a culture of rape.

The nature of high school journalism, even in the largest of schools (Paly hovers around 1,800 students), is that the community is small. Those affected by a certain piece of news in New York City are bound to be dispersed and often anonymous. In a high school setting, almost everyone is affected in some way, and anonymity is not always guaranteed. Sabbag took measures to ensure the two girls included in the article remained anonymous, along with their attackers – also members of the community. But it is a delicate topic in the hands of an unpredictable audience, and too many victims have further suffered from the coverage of their attacks.

But as the students discussed this morning on NPR’s “Forum,” they believe it is essential to create public discourse around sexual assault and rape culture. We applaud these young journalists for confronting the issue courageously and tactfully, and hopefully their work will inspire broader discussion about rape in our culture.

 

Photo credit:  Paly’s Verde Magazine Staff

Breaking the Silence on Male Sexual Assault

 

My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quite, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. 
 
I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other victims know that they’re not alone and to help victims of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

 
For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope. 
My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at Amazon.com

 

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