Trigger warning for talk of sexual assault, rape culture, etc.
Me at Take Back the Night, Oregon State University, 4/17/2013
I’m not sure how to put into words what Take Back the Night means to me. Leaving the march yesterday, I felt courage and strength that I haven’t felt in over a year when it was taken away from me on a summer night by someone who will go unpunished.
I am another tally mark, another statistic for the books on the realities of sexual assault. And I too have been failed by this society that is so blinded by rape culture that the truth cannot be seen.
Those I consider my friends asked if I remember it ‘right’, if I maybe was just too drunk and confused. They wanted to know if I had flirted with him earlier in the night. Eventually they didn’t ask anything at all, wanting it to be gone from their minds when it was the only thing that filled mine. My boyfriend found out months later and our relationship quickly shattered into a million little pieces. He didn’t know how, or frankly want to, deal with the baggage. The police questioned what I was wearing and how much I had to drink. They forgot about my case, calling me months later with no progress made.
And I began to blame myself. I lived with the shadow of sexual assault over my head for seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months.
Now, it’s been over a year. My life is forever changed by that night, but undeniably a part of who i’ve become. I am now a Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Peer Educator on my campus. I work to change the dialogue surrounding this issue. I work to educate my peers on what sexual violence looks like, and how it can be prevented. I believe that one act of sexual violence is one too many, and if my work can prevent even one act — then my job has been done.
That is why I set out to plan Take Back the Night. I wanted to educate my peers on the realities of sexual assault and empower them to feel safe in our community.
I didn’t know that looking out into the crowd of survivors and allies marching silently with their candles would make me feel so strong. I didn’t know that hearing everyone chant in unison through the streets would make me feel so liberated. I spent so much time after that night last summer feeling alone — but with a crowd of allies uniting together behind me, I finally felt the shadow looming over me break away. I finally had courage and strength that was taken away over a year ago. Last night, I reclaimed the night, but I also reclaimed myself.
I feel so strongly that sexual assault is an issue that affects everyone, whether you experience it or not. It is an issue that needs to be talked about in order for the culture to change, and because of that I broke my silence. I will continue to educate. I will continue to talk about it. I will continue to work towards ending sexual violence because one act is one too many.
First off…I’m bawling after reading this, because it’s like the original poster crawled inside my brain & these words are what came out.
Nobody should have stories like the one told above, but I hear them over & over & over. So many people are too scared to speak, because they know what may happen if they do. I only started talking about ‘it’ after I met & got support from some simply amazing human beings. (And yes, at least half of said human beings are people I met here in the world of Tumblr.) And I’ve gotta agree, that moment when you realize you’re not totally alone in a very special, shameful part of hell, something changes.
I talk about the things I talk about even when they are heavy/difficult because I always hope that somewhere, somehow it helps a person see they’re not all alone in their fight. And even if it only helps one person, it’s worth it.
I’ve gotten a lot of submissions about different aspects of the gang rape in Steubenville, OH that has become a viral news story. So I thought I would make a master post about what has happened, the rape culture behind it, and how the case has evolved. This is a summary of violent and disgusting behavior, so please be aware before you continue reading.
WHAT HAPPENED: On August 11th, 2012, a party was thrown by Steubenville teenagers, including several members of the beloved high school football team. One of the attendees, a sixteen-year old girl, became heavily intoxicated and passed out. Instead of helping this girl - either by getting her home to a responsible adult, getting her medical attention, or keeping an eye on her vitals - her peers carried her into a bedroom by her hands and feet and raped her. Eventually, it came out that this was not an isolated incident; this girl was talked into going to the parties by a perp’s girlfriend, targeted, drugged, and raped at multiple parties throughout the summer.
The victim was not aware that anything had happened until the day after the August 11th attack, when she saw tweets about and pictures of the incident, and went to her father about it. What happened from there is still being pieced together.
THE COVERUP: It seems that the perps are members of the Big Red High School football team, and high school football is a big deal in Steubenville. At least one of the parties in question is thought to have been held at an assistant coach’s house. Not only is it wholly inappropriate for an adult employed by the school to be hosting students in their house, it is even more inappropriate to allow them to drink underage and assault their peers.
Football is such a huge part of Steubenville that the prosecutor and multiple judges have recused themselves because they personally knew the perpetrators. The case is now being handled by the Ohio state attorney.
After the rape was reported, law enforcement pleas for witnesses to come forward were met with silence. The Tweets, photos, and videos that originally alerted the victim to the events of the previous night were deleted - or so the perps thought.
ANONYMOUS GETS INVOLVED: The Steubenville story was picked up by crime blogger and former Steubenville resident Alex Goddard before it made it to major media outlets. She catalogued the aforementioned Tweets, videos, and photos, which are now being used by police.
Meanwhile, two football players have been charged, while multiple others are suspected and have not been benched. Apparently, the football fans in the town are more invested in the players’ rights than siding with the girl who was drugged and assaulted so horrifically.
The famed hacker group Anonymous did not find this satisfactory. The group hacked into the prosecutor’s office, and published photos, videos, and accounts of the assault that have since been spread across major news networks. It’s unclear how this will impact the trial.
RAPE CULTURE REARS ITS UGLY HEAD: Of course, people are already victim blaming the unconscious minor who was brutally raped by her peers. Just the other day, some douchebag on Twitter described the situation to me as, “rape is bad but that girl showed up for it every week like it was her job in tell her dad found out then there was a problem.” What should be a story about the importance of encouraging teenage witnesses of crime to intervene and come forward, as well as a discussion about the entitlement complexes that led these football players to carefully orchestrate multiple horrific sexual assaults has become for some another excuse to shame a teenager whose greatest crime was giving in to peer pressure and attending parties. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t caved to peer pressure at one time or another, and the punishment for it certainly isn’t rape.
Regardless of what you think of underage drinking or partying, it’s clear that this was a deliberately premeditated crime. It’s also clear that this girl at no time consented, and could not legally consent as she was unconscious. It also bears reminding that the photos and videos taken are child pornography - another felony.
THE LESSON: This is a tragedy that will likely affect this young woman for the rest of her life. Hopefully the perpetrators will all be held accountable for their atrocious actions, and the adults who allowed it to happen will be punished as well. At the very least, they have no business working with children ever again.
But a particularly striking thing about this situation is the fact that the teenagers who witnessed at least some of the events, as well as the videos, photos, and Tweets did nothing. They didn’t tell a teacher, a parent, or a law enforcement officer. They didn’t intervene to try and stop it. They didn’t even say anything to the girl who was assaulted, except apparently through online taunts.
So let this be the message to all teens: if you see something, say something. Drunk, drugged, and/or otherwise incapacitated people CANNOT give consent. Look out for each other, come forward about disturbing things that you see. Err on the side of caution - don’t exacerbate a horrible crime by blaming the victim.
MORE LINKS: For more information, check out these stories about the rape and ongoing investigation:
Local Leaks Tipsters Allege Steubenville Victim Was Drugged
Steubenville High School Students Joke About Rape In Video Leaked By Anonymous
Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City
Rape charges against high school students divide football town of Steubenville, OH
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) won two more socially conservative backers for his senatorial bid on Wednesday when former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced their endorsements.
I’m shocked!! SHOCKED!!! (not really).
Senator Claire McCaskill nailed it in her debate with Rep. Todd Akin late last week -> http://bit.ly/QIl8o4
Awright, let’s keep it moving.
Me, with others at the UW Slut Walk 2011. I’m wearing sunglasses and the olive hat. Thanks to Safe Pokes for taking a great photo! There was a turnout of roughly 100 in Laramie. The group was also quite diverse. Afterwards, we came back to campus and enjoyed live burlesque and vocal performances.
The reaction was fairly positive - we even elicited cheers and clapping when we walked by a barbecue at St. Lawrence Catholic Church. I was thrilled to see so many people come out to support it. Women’s Action Network organized Slut Walk partially in response to an ASUW Senator Noah Hull’s remarks in reference to sexual assault. I wrote a letter condemning his remarks, as did others, and he apologized. He references a comment, since deleted, written about me on the website within his letter:
Comment: “Looks like Meg Lanker wasnt getting enough attention lately so she had to make up a rape story. I want the Branding Iron to publish the entire police report and any medical documents. She should proove it because theres nothing but her word and you know how liberals/terrorists lie about everything. Its so co-incidental that theres nothing to fact check huh. I heard she said she got raped on campus. So wheres the news story. I couldnt find anything. UW police said they havent heard anything. its not like anyone would want to rape her anyway, shes a wildabeast. She should be glad someone supposedly wanted to touch her. I like how she changed her name, probably so she wont be assocated with a terrorist. Noah is right. If you dont want to put yourself at risk, dont go out to smoke. You wont put yourself at risk of cancer either. If you dont want to get raped dont act like you want it. I can control myself but some guys cant. You cant control breathing in second hand smoke at all. Go Noah. Stand up to the people who try to whine about smoking being taken away. Maybe if we cant smoke on campus people like Meg Lanker will go away and leave our state alone.”
Yeah, a little over the top, bro.
So if nothing else, the comments made by Noah Hull, and comments like this one above, provoked a long-needed discussion on the UW campus. I hope to see this dialogue continue.
CARO — The lawyer for former Caro High School softball coach Mickey T. Gotwalt — sentenced to prison Thursday for sex crimes against a 14-year-old female student — told a judge that the victim will “have forgotten all about this at some point.”
“I mean (Gotwalt) didn’t kill this girl,” Thomas A. Warda, the Flint lawyer representing the former coach, told Tuscola County Circuit Judge Patrick R. Joslyn, according to a transcript of Gotwalt’s sentencing obtained by The Saginaw News.
“I mean this isn’t — I don’t think she’s gonna have psychological injury the rest of her life,” Warda said. “I mean he’ll be in prison, but, you know, she’ll have forgotten all about this at some point.”
Thomas A. Warda: Mother. Fucker.
Seriously, read through the defense attorney’s comments throughout the article. Unreal.
I love his point that men don’t just start becoming pedophiles at age 51. That’s true, sir. I’d be looking into this guy’s background very carefully, not blaming the girl, blaming meds, or blaming anything else.
But we’re all supposed to feel okay about this because the victim will just forget all about it someday. Yeah, that’s how it works. Whew! Words cannot describe how much I’d like to scratch this man’s eyes out right now.
|—||DSK Rape Case Takeaway Number Five: You Have to Be the Perfect Victim | Akiba Solomon | COLORLINES (via ethiopienne)|
From the article:
According to a study by the University of Chicago Law School, there were over 10,000 reports of police misconduct in the years from 2002-2004. Only 124 of these cases were investigated at all, and shockingly only 19 resulted in any sort of meaningful discipline for the officers involved.
In other words, less than 0.2 percent of reports of police misconduct carried repercussions for the officers involved.
In these two years, there were 111 cases reported of sexual harassment, abuse and rape by Chicago police officers. Of these 111 cases, only two resulted in disciplinary action for the officers involved.
Repeat offenses seem to be the norm—Officer Clavijo’s case is far from unique in this way. From 2001 to 2006, there were 662 cops who received 11 or more complaints against them, 33 cops with 30 or more complaints, and four cops with 50 or more complaints. Astonishingly, these officers were all allowed to continue to serve in the same positions, without repercussions, after multiple cases of misconduct had been brought against them.