As Free as a Bird

Spreading my voice on the injustices of rape culture, misogyny, and human trafficking in an effort to educate others and empower like-minded women.

Archive for the tag “Jane Doe”

Cyber Bullying

I can remember when I was still in middle school and no one really associated bullying with kids being mean over the internet. Instant messaging was just starting to become popular, and kids were just starting to get deep into the online world of chat rooms. I was bullied online and it was almost completely dismissed by my school’s principal.

Most schools do not handle bullying properly – even at this point in time when bullying, and suicides resulting from bullying, is at a height. Bullying has always been around, but it has migrated to the online world at a rate that has been increasing at an alarming rate. There have been many recent cases where young girls have killed themselves as a result of online torture (many of these attacks started from the girls being sexually assaulted, or exploited over the internet).

As if victim blaming isn’t enough, teens have began to use victim shaming when girls come forward to report their rapists. Rape culture online contributes to the bullying when the media and society sympathize with the rapists.

Example 1:

Rehtaeh Parsons

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Rehtaeh was raped by multiple boys at a party when she was 15, and two years later she committed suicide after being bullied relentlessly. Even though there were photos of her rape that circulated around the community the Canadian authorities pushed her case to the side. She was bullied online and harassed constantly through messaging. enduring constant torment, she was made to feel as if no one believed her, until finally taking her own life. One thing is certain about this case: Rehtaeh was bullied and it resulted in her suicide.

Example 2:

Audrie Plott

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Audrie Plott was assaulted, when she was only 15, by three boys while she was passed out. Photos of the assault circulated online. Because of this Audrie ended her own life. She considered her life to be ruined; she was humiliated by the posting of the pictures online. The images went viral, but Audrie was not alive long enough to endure the torture that would ensue after the pictures were passed around online. She killed herself eight days after her rape.

Example 3:

Jane Doe of Steubenville

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Jane Doe was raped by two football players in Steubenville, Ohio. They were apparently sent to assault Jane Doe by her ex-boyfriend, who posted online saying that Jane Doe would regret breaking up with him. She was then harassed endlessly and threatened online by her peers, and even complete strangers, through Twitter and other social media outlets online. Here are some examples of the bullying she has endured:

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These are classic examples of rape culture, victim blaming, victim shaming, and slut shaming. As if the mental and emotional trauma from the online bullying wasn’t enough, some girls, as you can see above, threatened physical harm to Jane Doe. The cousin of one of the rapists threatened to kill Jane Doe for making her cousin cry in court.

Example 4:

Amanda Todd

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Amanda Todd was not sexually assaulted, in fact she was known for being promiscuous. She showed her breasts online to a stranger, who then stalked her relentlessly, even after she moved schools several times. Her bully would follow her where ever she went, posting the pictures online for everyone to see at each school she attended. She was harassed by her peers constantly. While she may not have been perfect, but nothing can excuse what her bully/bullies did to her. She was harassed, and she killed herself because of it. Amanda was slut shamed. The fact is that it is no one’s business to judge another person’s sex life or sexual preferences. No one deserves the torture that she received.

*Note: Amanda’s case is going to carry me into an article on slut shaming.

If you would like to read about similar stories about bullying, victim blaming, victim shaming, slut shaming, and sexual assault injustices, you can read about it at the following links:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/03/torringtons-rape-case/63386/

http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/05/social-media-gone-horribly-bad-teens-post-rape-on-facebook/

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/13/2003771/no-you-cannot-substitute-sex-rape/?utm_content=buffer21e93&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=Buffer&mobile=nc

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2321447/Braylee-Rice-Teen-girl-hangs-middle-school-bleachers-necktie-class-family-says-bullied.html

The point is that we need to do something about this, because these cases keep happening.

Victim Blaming and Victim Shaming

Victim Blaming: The act of insinuating that the victim of a crime is at fault for the crime. This is seen extremely often in rape cases. The victim is blamed for their own rape. In other words, society may accuse them of wearing “suggestive clothes”, drinking “excessively or irresponsibly”, giving “suggestive eye contact”, or acting “suggestively”, claiming that the victim caused the rape to happen because of “poor decisions” or “irresponsible/slutty behavior”.

Victim Shaming: When victim blaming goes a step further. Outside of blaming a victim for the crime committed against them, people may begin to bully the victim for the crime. They may call the victim derogatory names, threaten them for coming forward, gang up on them on the internet, slander them, attack them verbally and physically, and taunt them endlessly.

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Both victim blaming and victim shaming seem to be a current trend in our society. I’m not sure if these situations are just now coming to light in the masses, or if it was always going on. Something tells me it’s been happening for a very long time.

When I was sitting in the police cruiser on the night of my attack the police were grilling me to tell them about what happened and draw up a formal charge. I told them that I did not want to press any charges, and that I just wanted to go home. They acted like they had no idea why I would not want to press charges, but I quickly enlightened them (keep in mind this was much before the Jane Doe, Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and other related cases came into the light). I told them that I knew what people would say of me, that they would call me a slut, say I was asking for it, and I would just be the slut in the green dress. They tried to assure me that no one would think that about me, and though I knew that what they were saying was not true, I reluctantly gave my statement and spent the longest 2 hours of my life waiting in the police cruiser.

The police pretty much shamed me for not wanting to come forward, but I think people can see why at this point in time. Jane Doe and Rehtaeh Parsons endured endless bullying from their peers and society. The process of reporting is traumatic enough without rape culture being at a height and extremely public. The police tried to convince me by saying, “Don’t you want to stop him from doing this to anyone else?” If you say anything other than yes you look like a monster, and if you say yes you are damned for life for reporting. No wonder barely any women want to report. People always like to look down on women for not reporting, but I fully understand why they do not want to.

I want to change this society, but I can’t do it alone. We all have to work together to beat it.

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We Believe You

Finally, someone did what I have been trying to figure out how/what to do for so long. Tell Jane Doe she is strong, that we believe her, and that she is not alone. She’s my hero, because she stood up to say what even I had no courage to say. I AM INNOCENT and it was NEVER MY FAULT.

We Demand Justice

“Rehtaeh was fifteen when her mom says she was raped by 4 boys. She was 17 when she took her life this weekend, following over a year of being shamed for her own rape. Her mother’s friend Sherri started a campaign — www.change.org/rehtaeh — asking officials in her Canadian province to launch an investigation into why Rehtaeh’s alleged rapists were never charged.

Can you share this photo to spread Sherri’s call for justice for Retaeh even further?” – as written by Change.org

Her story is very familiar to that of Jane Doe in Steubenville, Ohio. She attended a party, was raped by multiple assailants, and then pictures of the horrific act were posted on social media websites for the world to see. She was bullied, threatened, and shamed for her own rape. Unfortunately there were never any arrests. Later she took her own life and never received the justice she deserves.

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People claim that women have made it a long way, but have we really? Sure, we can vote, we can move up to some positions of power, but we are still shamed for being a victim. We still do not receive the coverage, compassion, prestige, power, or paycheck that men do. I can’t even begin to understand why a woman should be shamed for her own rape. How is it that I live in a country where women are blamed for a crime committed by a man? This is another great example of rape culture. If we are going to have the justice system, media system, and the lack of moral fiber/humanity that we have in this country, then there needs to be a some sort of a system that can also protect girls like Jane Doe, Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and Audrie Plott. They need to have somewhere safe to go, a haven, where they can feel safe, heal from what they have gone through, and come out stronger than ever before (this is what I hope to accomplish some day with this blog). I want to start a bed and breakfast, or some sort of getaway, where women can go to stay to heal and move on.There is nothing wrong with running away to survive- I did it after what happened to me and it was the best thing I ever decided to do for myself. I went to stay with my parents on the coast of North Carolina. I was able to heal, forget, and move on in a tranquil and safe environment. Getting out of the situation and escaping the area where it happened- that is the best thing you can do for yourself. It is survival, and no one has the right to judge you for that. You have every right to do what you need to do to take care of yourself- that is self-love. In my personal opinion, if a parent has a daughter struggling with something like rape or sexual exploitation they need to help their daughter escape the situation so that they can heal and overcome it (which can be done after the incident is reported if the family decides that is what is best). They need to get out of the situation so that they are able to get away from any media, or social media, harassment. They need to be shown that life can go on after what happened to them, but there is a healing process that is absolutely vital in the mean time. This nation should be standing behind these girls, helping them, loving them, showing support, but they are condemning them and shunning them. More shockingly in regards to women who are trafficked, they oftentimes end up in jail rather than their oppressor, and even if the oppressor does go to jail their sentence is usually ungodly short. Where is the justice for these women?

*If you would like to help Rehtaeh Parsons fight for justice in death, you can do so by clicking here.

Anonymous speaks out for girls like Rehtaeh and Jane Doe, you can spread the word, too. Use hashtags on Twitter to get more attention.

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