Posted by: CeCe | March 19, 2013

Dear Jane Doe

This is sort of an open letter especially for the 16 year old girl whose rape has become international news, but I think that there are many other Jane Does for whom this “letter” could be intended.

If anyone has been reading my blog for a while, they know that I was sexually assaulted myself almost 11 years ago.  I’m usually hesitant to share the details of what happened, mostly due to the fact that so many people have a bad habit of attempting to shift the blame from the imbecile who assaulted me, to me.  Right after I was assaulted, I was told by one friend to quit talking about it, that it happened and I needed to get over it.  Another friend told me that if I hadn’t been drunk it wouldn’t have happened.  Yet another friend asked me what I was wearing that night.  Another asked me if I had kissed the guy or led him on in any way (I had kissed him, yes, but that doesn’t mean that I welcomed what he did after that).  It took two years of therapy to finally get to the point where I stopped having nightmares almost every night, stopped having flashbacks, and stopped blaming myself for what happened.  Maybe it would have taken less time if I hadn’t had to endure two months of people trying to blame me for my own assault.

The worst part about it is that these weren’t older people; at least that could be excused, since those of older generations were more likely to attempt to blame the woman who was raped, rather than the rapist.  Unfortunately, however, these were my own peers.  I was 21 at the time, and they were about the same age.  Maybe older generations, still just barely removed from a time when women had no legal recourse and no political voice, have an excuse.  We do not.  We should know better by now.

This culture of blaming the victim for their own rape is much more prevalent than it should be in our modern society.  I keep thinking, it’s been almost 11 years since I was assaulted, the world has got to have moved on by now, people have to have stopped blaming the victim.  But no.  They’ve got to realize that a woman is only accountable for her own actions while drunk, not what anyone else does to her.  But no.  They’ve got to realize that it’s still rape even if no weapons are used, and even if the woman is not beaten, but no.

Some of the comments that I’ve seen regarding the Steubenville rape case have been disgusting, and the exact same sort of comments that I received when I was assaulted.  The vitriol and misogyny is astounding.

I keep trying to tell myself that these are just internet trolls trying to get a rise out of people, but how can a person be sure, especially when some of the people that I personally know think the exact same things when a woman is raped?

Oh, but they’re not trying to make excuses for the rapist, they’re just trying to hold women accountable for their own actions.  Of course, that has to be it, right?  What I’m wondering is, how many inches above a woman’s knee can her skirt be before she’s asking to be raped?  How many drinks is she allowed to have before she’s at risk?  How many men is she allowed to have sex with before she’s no longer allowed control over her own body?

And don’t even get me started on the media circus, such as the CNN reporters who talked about those poor young men, their lives are over, boo-hoo, it was so difficult to watch their lives being destroyed.  I wonder if they still would have been saying that if they had savagely beaten the girl, or killed her.  But I suppose since it was “only” rape, it’s no big deal, right?  The worst part is, these aren’t anonymous internet trolls, these are reporters.  Sure, there are demands for them to apologize for placing so much emphasis on the effect that the sentencing had on the “boys” rather than on the fact that they’re being held accountable for the actions that they specifically chose to take, but the fact that these remarks were made in the first place is yet another reflection of how prevalent rape culture really is.  When we have situations like this and where politicians believe they can get away with using terms like “legitimate rape”, it’s time to wake up and realize that maybe we aren’t as enlightened as we like to think we are, and the longer we take to protest against it, the more ingrained it’s allowed to become in our society.

It’s a sad world we live in when a 16 year old girl who goes to a party with friends is raped, and people attempt to shift the blame to her.  It’s called rape culture.  I’ve talked about this before, and I’ll talk about it again and again and again until finally the last person who attempts to shift blame to the victim or engender pity for the monsters who would rape someone becomes worm food.  Until finally any woman who is raped at any time is unafraid to face her accusers in court for fear of her past or how many drinks she had being used as an excuse for her rape.  Until finally men stand up and say that their default position is not “rapist”, and any woman is safe with him at any time, no matter what she’s wearing, and no matter what or how much she has had to drink.  Until finally statistics show that far less than 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted before they graduate from college.  It should be 1 in a thousand, or 1 in a million, or 1 in 3 billion.  One in four is just appalling.  And the worst part is, these are only the sexual assaults that are reported.  Considering how many women are convinced that maybe it wasn’t rape and maybe she did bring it on herself or she did want it after all, how many times do they just give up and decide to not pursue charges?  And why don’t more people realize how reprehensible this is?

To you Jane Doe, I have this to say:  Please don’t listen to the people who tell you that you’re to blame for what happened to you.  You should have been safe.  Someone should have stood up for you, covered you up, and made sure that you got somewhere where no one would force sexual contact on you.  Someone should have protected you when you were unable to protect yourself.  You did not in any way deserve what happened; the most that should have happened is awakening with a horrible hangover and being grounded until you turn 30 when your parents found out you were drinking illegally.  I hope that you’re able to trust again.  I hope that you’re able to understand that not all boys will ever do to you what was done that night, and that the “boys” who did force themselves on you are scumbags, because only scumbags would take advantage of a person who is unconscious and unable to consent to sexual contact.

I’m sorry for what you’ve had to endure.  I know how painful it is.  But above all, know this: You are strong, and you will get through this.  You aren’t alone, and there are millions of people out there who only know you as Jane Doe who would love nothing more than to hug you, wipe away your tears, and tell you that you are loved and admired for standing up to injustice.  Please don’t stop.  Be brave, and know that there are millions supporting you.  And I’ll tell you the same thing that my therapist told me:  You aren’t a victim, you are a survivor.  And don’t you ever forget it or let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Responses

  1. Well said. It’s sad that such compassion and insight has to come from a place of personal traumatic experience, but that’s what happens with rape culture. Women should have the right to drink and be safe. Women should have the right to wear what they want and be safe. Women should have the right to walk home alone and be safe. It’s time society understood this and stood by rape survivors instead of perpetrators!

    • I could not agree more, thank you!

  2. CeCe, when I read your words regardless of the topic it always touches my heart..This time it made me cry because it is so true that when a woman is raped so many questions are asked as to what she was wearing, or was she drinking…the fact is like you said it should not matter. When a woman is raped there is nothing she could have done to prevent it. The person who performed the act already knew what they were going to do that night in my opinion it is just a matter of who they target. I believe that giving someone a short amount of time for rape is ludicrous. This young man should be being treated as if he did murder someone, becuase when a person is raped so much is taken from them. CeCe thank you for your thoughts, and I wish I could hug you right now.

    • Thank you so much Becca! ❤

  3. Cece, you got to the heart of the matter with this comment: “They’ve got to realize that a woman is only accountable for her own actions…not what anyone else does to her.” If more people understood that thought, how much better off our world would be.

    You brought up a similar article, and it seems like justice continues the abuse of power. When an 18 year old male who is a star athlete is supposedly “vicimized” by a 13 year old girl, because she was raped and called him on the carpet….yet we would consider an 18 year old who has date (consensual) sex with his 16 year old girlfriend because she’s “jail bait”
    ….something is wrong.

    • Thank you Joye! And I agree completely!

  4. […] who read this blog may recall an instance where I spoke briefly about my PTSD, about waking up with nightmares almost nightly, about my social anxiety, about having flashbacks […]


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