Opinion

Reactions to rape as damaging as actions

Rolling Stone magazine recently published an article about the gang rape in 2012 of a freshman at the University of Virginia. After the brutal incident, Jackie turned, as most of us would, to her friends for help. Rather than sympathy and compassion, she was met with doubt, derision and concern for her social reputation. To call rape, one of her friends said according to an article in Rolling Stone magazine, would be social suicide. This, as she stood there battered, from the people who supposedly cared for her.

When she went to the administration for help, she encountered a similar reaction: more doubt, coupled with passivity and ambivalence as to whether she should file a police report and seek justice. This from the school that supposedly cared for her.

Yet as bloodcurdling as these responses may be, we must not dismiss Jackie’s friends and the UVA administration as mere monsters. To do so would ignore the fact that, while few of us would aim to harm another as viciously as Jackie’s assailants did, we are all capable of wreaking severe damage without intention.

In all likelihood, Jackie’s friends did not intend to isolate her in a crushing depression that nearly drove her to suicide. They reacted out of genuine concern for her social status. This is not to excuse their callous responses, but merely to illustrate that even concern, when misplaced, can prove as devastating as physical violence.

But they are, to an extent, correct. A lot more rape cases would be reported if victims weren’t forever labeled as “the girl who got raped.” Still, the instinct oftentimes is to assume she put herself into the situation – that she was somehow “asking for it” – or even that she made it up.

Simply condemning her friends, and the administration, and then moving on, hides our own portion of guilt. When we turn a blind eye to issues that unsettle our stomachs, we reinforce the idea that shame and guilt are justified reactions to violent sexual crimes. None of us do as much as he or she could to make victims feel welcome to speak up.

Certain organizations exist to help open this dialogue, including bystander education programs such as UM’s Haven. Also, UM has acted firmly in response to recent sexual assault cases, expelling two football players charged with raping another student.

Unfortunately, though, it is not enough to trust that somebody else will deal with issues you may not feel like handling. One in four women survived rape or attempted rape in 2014, according to a nonprofit called One in Four. We must all be prepared for sexual violence to impinge onto our own lives.

If one of your friends ever shows up on your doorstep battered and bruised, make sure your concern is in the right place: for her health. Otherwise, do what you can to make sure that concern for a woman’s reputation following a sexual assault will never be warranted even in the slightest.

Damage doesn’t only come from violent criminals and directly harmful action – when it comes from friends, from administrators, or from inaction, it can prove just as destructive.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

 

December 3, 2014

Reporters

Editorial Board

The Miami Hurricane


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

The Miami Hurricanes, still waiting for a starting quarterback to be named, are in the top 25 again. ...

Happy first day of school for everyone out there, including the University of Miami students. We jus ...

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? 'Dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. W ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.