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”

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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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”.

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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.

 

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