A little over a year ago, a 7,200 word statement went viral. Every time someone shared it, 12 more people read it. It was written and read aloud in court by Emily Doe, who was raped by Brock Allen Turner, at his sentencing. Buzzfeed was the outlet that published the letter. And it was Buzzfeed’s Katie JM Baker who was handpicked to be the journalist to share Emily Doe’s victim impact statement with the world. Katie was selected because of her outstanding work on sexual assault, and how the system has been set up to disadvantage victims. And she keeps working.
A new Katie JM Baker piece was published at Buzzfeed yesterday:
Like Emily Doe’s victim impact statement, this is not an easy ready. But it’s a must-read. Megan Rondini died by suicide last year after doing everything she was supposed to do: she told her friends, she went straight to the hospital to report the rape, she went straight to the police, she came forward.
You know what they told her though? When she went to the cops to tell them what happened, they said it was hard for them to believe her story because she “never kicked him or hit him or tried to resist him”.
Ohhhhh… OK. So it’s not enough to tell your rapist that you want to leave, that you want to go home, that you are uncomfortable, that you don’t want to have sex. To be believed that you were raped, you have to fight back. Otherwise, you know, you probably wanted it. Never mind that there are so many reasons why victims of sexual assault don’t “fight back”, beyond being drugged and unconscious. Like fear of being hurt or killed, fear of being punished even more than they already have been. And, please, even then, even when victims do “fight back”, what are the chances that they don’t end up feeling like they’re the ones on trial?
Meanwhile, speaking of trials, one week ago today the Bill Cosby trial ended in a hung jury and yesterday his reps revealed that he plans on going on a town hall tour to educate young people on how to avoid being accused of sexual assault. Your eyes did not just bug out. That’s right, Bill Cosby wants to teach “any young person, especially young athletes today” (like poor Brock Turner!) how to not get accused of sexual assault. To be clear, Bill Cosby is not going to be talking to young people about consent and how to not be a f-cking asshole and stick your finger inside someone when they don’t want you to. Because apparently there are more people being falsely accused of sexual assault than there are actual victims of sexual assault? Obviously, no. But there are people out there who want you to think that false reporting rape is some kind of epidemic. For the record, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Centre, “research shows that rates of false reporting are frequently inflated, in part because of inconsistent definitions and protocols, or a weak understanding of sexual assault. Misconceptions about false reporting rates have direct, negative consequences and can contribute to why many victims don’t report sexual assaults.”
And then, when they do, like Megan Rondini, if it happens to be a powerful, wealthy, well-connected man in the community, well then they’re accused of lying. Andrea Constand and over 50 other women know about this as well. So, to sum up, if you get raped, make sure you are perfect – that is you’re as close to virginal as possible, and you were dressed that way as well and you’ve never made a mistake in your life; also make sure your location is perfect – like an alley or a deserted parking lot; and definitely make sure your rapist is perfect – not a Stanford athlete or a wealthy comedian/actor or a man whose family supported the big university in town, but someone poor, ideally with priors, and then, maybe then, someone will believe you.
Have a great weekend,