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 “Steubenville Ohio”

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

Image

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

AP37142267002_244x183

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

tumblr_mkfsyb5Fp21s8rpq7o1_500

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:

6f89727a33e695e65dbb9dbdf819c689_444x246

image

steubenville-71

steubenville-tweet-2

threat-to-beat-up-jane

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

amanda-todd

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.

tumblr_mkzvbmwDg11qaqasro1_1280

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.

320325_531694146866205_663816156_n

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.

Rape Culture

Rape culture is when the victim of the crime is blamed, demonized, and possibly threatened for speaking up. The media will downplay the victim, if the victim is mentioned at all, and sympathize with the rapist. This usually occurs when the rapist is someone who is famous, powerful, a pillar of society, or the “All-American male” (high school football players, someone in the armed forces, involved with a fraternity, etc). The media will downplay the crime and play up the prestige of the guilty parties. They may talk about the sudden loss of their bright futures, or in the case of someone in the military, claim them to be an “American hero”.

Image

Sometimes it is difficult for family members and friends to understand why a victim may not speak up for a crime, and let’s be honest, people look at you with a weird/judgmental grimace on their face if you say that you don’t want to report or that you don’t want to go to counseling. While I fully support women speaking up for themselves, and strongly believe that they should report the crime, I am the first to admit that I was a woman who did not want to report. Looking at the above chart, one can begin to grasp why. Many rapists will not even go to court. When I was going through the beginning processes of reporting the crime I was made to realize how daunting the process would be. The detective I spoke with said that the process can take at least 3-5 years, and that is if the District Attorney decides that your case is even worth going to trial over. Then even if the case does make it to court the rapist is often sympathized with rather than the victim. I was afraid to go to court because, frankly, I knew I would be treated like Jane Doe from the Steubenville case. Though her case came after I reported, using the case as an example has helped my family and friends understand my hesitation with reporting or carrying on with the case. Rape culture. That is why women do not want to report the crime-not to mention your raw emotions and most private life experiences are put on display for the world to see. The rapists are made to look as if they are heroes for withstanding trial. The real heroes here are the women who are brave enough to report, or even consider it, because, unfortunately, they will be the ones enduring hell on earth-accusations, threats, name-calling, shaming, court. If you made it out, you are the hero. You’re my hero, because I have barely been brave enough to report. I am here to tell you that if you do not want to report, or you are afraid to report, you are not weird and there is nothing wrong with you. You are not any less of the one who was forced to be a victim. The rapist/abuser is at fault. Always. You are never at fault. Even if you danced around naked you are not asking for it. You should be respected; you have value. Do not let yourself be defined by being the victim. Do not let anyone judge you for acting differently than what society portrays how a rape “victim” should behave. Do not let society force you to view yourself in any way other than beautiful.

 

Post Navigation