Sexual Assault: Think of the Victim

Sexual assaults are all over the news, which means they're also all over social media. Before you comment on a post, I implore you, think of the victim.I’m writing this from bed in the middle of the night with a broken heart. I woke up half an hour ago to a text that said a young woman from my high school was sexually assaulted by a boy from our brother school at a football game. 

Before I dive into the point of this post, let me give you a bit of background about the schools. I attended a private, Catholic school for girls. Yes, they have nuns on campus. No, the nuns don’t hit students with rulers. The brother school is across the street. Both schools share 4 of their 6 daily classes, plus the optional 0 period before school and 7th period at the end of the day. The schools also share morning break and lunch, and a theatre program, and the girls’ cheer and dance teams perform at games for both schools.

The community is very family-oriented. It’s not uncommon for a student to have siblings and cousins at both schools. Alumni love sending their kids to their alma mater. A few of my teachers from the 2000s actually taught my mom in the 1980s. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of the students are not from wealthy families. Many of them are only able to attend thanks to various scholarships funded through alumni donations. I worked in the art room to help pay for my tuition. Football is a huge deal. Someone actually wrote a book about the boys’ football team, and it was turned into a movie.

Last month, a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a 15-year-old boy at a football game. She told her principal about it 3 days later, and the boy was arrested yesterday. I cannot begin to imagine the pain she’s going through right now. She’s so brave. I’m sure her sisters, the teachers, the administration, and the amazing councilors are giving her as much love and support as they can.

After hearing about this assault, I saw an article about it on Facebook. Several of the comments seriously disturbed me. People were saying that it wasn’t surprising. They blamed spoiled rich kids with neglectful parents. One man asked if she was actually raped, or if he just touched her butt. They took the attention away from this young woman’s bravery and trauma with sarcastic comments about a community with which they are not personally acquainted.

I won’t say that all of the boys are perfect gentlemen. I absolutely knew many who were cocky and entitled. My first boyfriend was class president during our junior year, and he was verbally and emotionally abusive. However, a sexual assault like this is always a surprise.

How can you blame neglectful parents, when you know literally nothing about the young people involved? Because they’re both minors, neither of them have been identified. You don’t know that either of them are rich, or that their parents are neglectful. The boy’s parents could be perfectly loving and attentive. They could be hard workers with 3 jobs each who just want to send their son to the best school possible. They could be just as horrified by their son’s (alleged) actions as everyone else, and they could be cooperating with the police. How can you compare them to Brock Turner’s repugnant father when you know literally nothing about them?

How can you even ask if she was raped, or if the boy had just touched her butt? It’s still early in the investigation. Everything will come out during the trial. Sexual assault includes anything and everything from sexual harassment to rape. Any form of assault is incredibly traumatic for the victim. How dare you cheapen this young woman’s experience to “just” being touched on the butt?

When you hear about a sexual assault, I implore you to think about the victim. Don’t place the blame on anyone other than the assailant, until you have more information. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want the victim to hear. Especially on social media, you never know who is reading your comments. Don’t make light of her, or his, experience. You are perpetuating rape culture and victim-blaming.

To the young woman who was assaulted, my thoughts are with you, little sister. I’m in awe of your bravery. Lean on your sisters in this time of struggle and pain. We all have your back. Xo

  • Mrs Fancy-Pants

    I’ve decided that you can find the lowest forms of life in comment sections on social media. But I can’t stop myself from reading them!

    • You really can. The comment sections are like train wrecks. They’re disturbing, stomach-churning, and horrifying, but you can’t look away.

  • It’s basically trolls that say these sort of things. They have no idea of the situation and feel the need to place the blame on someone, the girl, the parent’s for not being involved with the child’s life. Even if adults raise their children up the best they can, the children can still turn out horrible… At some point in everyone’s life they start making their own choices without the parents knowledge. It was brave of her to say something. So many girls stay silent and then it continues to happen to other girls/women. She did the right thing by telling. It also goes to show that it can happen anywhere to anyone.