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January 07, 2013

Steubenville High School Alleged Rape: We Have to do Better

IStock_0fearllAs I watched the cell phone video of a boy laughing about a 16-year-old girl allegedly being raped by two 16-year-old football players in a nearby room, I could feel my anger rising.  I’m sickened that a girl could allegedly be raped while people in another room knew about it and made appalling comments, vulgarly laughing and -- horrifically -- doing nothing while a young girl’s life was being tragically changed.

This young girl wasn’t alone in an alley.  She wasn’t alone in a car.  She was in a place with a lot of people.  Isn’t there supposed to be “safety in numbers?”  I can only imagine that the 16-year-old girl thought she was safe going to a party with many other attendees.

When I was younger, I was repeatedly told that there was safety in numbers.  I was told not to go any place alone.  I was told to always bring a friend, never let your friends walk home alone, park where there are lights and on and on.  Looking back now, I’m saddened that most girls have to be told this.  I wonder how often boys are told: don’t walk alone, don’t leave your drink or someone might drug it, don’t dress provocatively, be careful not to lead a boy on, don’t jog alone, don’t go out by yourself after dark, always be aware of your surroundings.  I’m sickened that we are still warning our daughters to be careful in 2013.  I’m angry that the people we have to warn our daughters about are boys and men.  I’m horrified that the boys and men we have to warn them about aren’t just the creepy men in some side alley, but their friends, dates, fellow students, uncles, coaches, athletes, priests, ministers and those they trust the most and fear the least.

I’m angry that I have to worry about my daughter going to a high school party because she might be raped.  I can’t believe that she may not even be safe in a house full of countless people—many of whom she will know and will be friends with. 

Boys and men who rape give the entire male species a bad rap.  The men and women who support them, give all of us a bad rap.  Until we have men, women, boys and girls ALL standing strong against rape and crimes against women, we are hurting all of us.  Until we stop asking the victims what they were wearing, what kind of character they have and how many people they slept with, we will never tackle this problem.  It doesn’t matter if a girl is a virgin or promiscuous when it comes to rape.  It doesn’t matter if the rapist is your friend, child, father, coach or neighbor.  Care about the assaulted person—don’t condone the act, blame the victim, turn a blind eye or justify an absolutely unjustifiable act.

I’m shocked that even when everyone knows a girl was raped without a doubt, that parents, schools, sports teams, administrators, etc., have the audacity to blame the victim and justify and protect the rapists.  It is disgusting to hear adults claim to not want to ruin a boy’s life because of “one mistake.”  I have news for those adults--it is seldom one mistake.  Rape is about power—it is not about being a horny teenager.   And, did I forget to say that the moment a boy chooses to callously rape a girl her life is forever altered?  Forever altered; not for a moment, not for a day, not even for 5 years.  Forever.  Forgive me if I fail to have empathy for the rapist who gave her that life sentence.

Challenge: Go to this link, watch the video and commit to take a stand against violence.  Do not allow the bystander effect, peer pressure, fear or any other factor result in your silencing your voice.  Inherent in silence is acceptance.  Refuse to accept the unacceptable…and do your part to teach the young males in our society to respect and protect females not use and abuse them.

P.S: To the hacktivist group “Knight Sec,”…I thank you for your courage…and your voices.

NOTE: This post is about rape.  I’m aware that false accusations do occur in a small percentage of rape cases.  In those instances when a woman falsely accuses someone of rape, I believe she should be charged with a crime and do time in prison.  This post is not about those cases.


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So many of these types of problems over the years seem to be centered around the sports programs. I think it's time we eliminate these programs. Schools are for learning, not for playing sports. If kids want to play on a team, they should do it outside of the school. Why should our tax dollars go towards these rapist training camps anyway?

Dear Sherri,
I am so sorry about your rape. Far too many girls are going through and/or have gone through what you went through and it's not okay. I'm glad that you have received the help you needed...and I'm sorry your boyfriend put you in a position to need it. Thank you for sharing your story so others can learn from it.
Warm Regards,

Very good article. Thanks for writing this. I was date raped by my boyfriend in high school (I was a virgin at the time) and I wasn't even able to bring myself to call it that until after I had a woman's study course in college that taught us that any time we say no, it is rape, period. I even kept dating him afterwards, isn't that sad? Because I let him convince me that it wasn't rape. But now I've gotten the help I need and know the truth.

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