Our Opinion: Don’t forget victimPublished 10:22am Friday, March 22, 2013
We were shocked and saddened by the actions of two high schoolers in Steubenville, Ohio, who earlier this week were convicted of raping a passed-out 16-year-old at a party. What is more shocking, however, is how little national media talked of the lasting effects those young men will have on their victim, and what that says about how far we as a society must evolve when it comes to rape.
Blaming the victim is one of the most common occurrences whenever a high-profile rape case occurs. In part, it happens because a victim’s right to privacy is protected by the court and, in most cases, by the media after suffering such a horrendous fate. The average person ends up knowing far more about the rapist than their victim.
That does not excuse the national media coverage focusing on the rapists, and whether it’s fair they must register as sex offenders and serve a year in prison. The question of whether their sentence is fair is beside the point: These young men made an inexcusable choice to rape a 16-year-old while she was unconscious, and the scrutiny she faces in her community while so many try to sympathize with her attackers is unimaginable at best, horrifying and unbearable at worst.
It comes as little surprise to learn two other teenagers were arrested for threatening the victim’s life on social media. It is one of many symptoms in a case like this, and it is a sad reality this will not be the last time a victim must suffer the scorn of people who can’t comprehend what she is dealing with. And the only way to prevent it is to clearly tell people what happened.
This girl was raped by two young men close to her age. We may not know her name, but if we can remember what she went through and teach our children how terrible a crime this was, we may prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future. At the very least, we won’t disregard the victim and we’ll acknowledge the hard, painful journey she must endure.